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Achieving Harmony: Tuning into Practice
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Thursday, June 18 • 3:00pm - 3:30pm
CON07.03 - Tuning into the practice of first year foundations courses

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In recent years, increasing attention has been paid to student transitions and the first year university experience (Crisp et al., 2009; Nelson, Smith & Clarke, 2012). Innovative pedagogies designed to ease transition, promote engagement, and help students develop foundational skills have been implemented with varying degrees of success (Levy & Petrulis, 2012; Nelson et al., 2011). This 30-minute presentation will tune into practice that supports transition by engaging participants in interactive discussion about one innovative course aiming to improve the first-year experience. Social Sciences 1T03 is a blended (online & face-to-face), Foundations Course that was introduced at McMaster University in September 2014. The course aims to provide students with an overview of Social Sciences fields and the learning skills needed to succeed at university. Among the key skills that students develop in the course are critical and reflective thinking, study habits, time management, and conflict resolution. The small size of tutorials and the learning activities employed facilitate connections between first-year students and the Faculty, University, and broader Hamilton communities. A longitudinal research project has been launched to explore the impact of Social Sciences 1T03 on participating students and to determine whether the course is meeting its objectives. Students’ academic achievement, skill development, and perceived integration into the McMaster community are assessed through online surveys, focus groups, and academic data (such as course and term GPAs). Attendees will learn about preliminary findings from this study and discuss potential applications for curriculum design related to easing first-year transitions and developing foundational skills. 


Crisp, G., Nettelbeck, T., Sarris, A., Palmer, E., Ward, L. Strelan, P., Turnbull, D., LeCouteur, A., & Schneider, L. (2009). First year student expectations: Results from a university-wide student survey. Journal of University Teaching & Learning Practice, 6(1), 13-26.

Levy, P., & Petrulis, R. (2012). How do first-year university students experience inquiry and research, and what are the implications for the practice of inquiry-based learning? Studies in Higher Education, 37(1), 85-101.

Nelson, K.J., Smith, J.E., & Clarke, J.A. (2012). Enhancing the transition of commencing students into university: an institution-wide approach. Higher Education Research & Development, 31(2), 185-199.

Nelson, K.J., Quinn, C., Marrington, A., & Clarke, J.A. (2011). Good practice for enhancing the engagement and success of commencing students. Higher Education, 63(1), 83-96.

avatar for Elizabeth Marquis

Elizabeth Marquis

McMaster University
Beth Marquis is an Assistant Professor in the Arts & Science Program and the McMaster Institute for Innovation and Excellence in Teaching and Learning (MIIETL).

Thursday June 18, 2015 3:00pm - 3:30pm PDT
Mackenzie Room

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