New Interdisciplinary Science Course for First-Year Faculty of Science Students: Overview and Preliminary Results from the Pilot Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • Transitioning to university can be a daunting endeavour, with student success dependent on a myriad of effects (Pascarella & Terenzini, 2005). Understanding how to navigate university systems, who to meet, how to get help, how to study, and what goals to set can be hard to grasp (Valle et al., 2003). We provide an overview of the new interdisciplinary foundations course, which piloted in fall 2014, for first-year Faculty of Science students at McMaster University. This course provides a taste of research-based learning (Healey, Jenkins, & Lea, 2014) and develops essential skills that are important for an undergraduate degree and future academic or career plans, exposes students to a wide range of departments and programs in the Faculty of Science, and invites students to reflect on their academic journey and how it may be changing as a result of the course. This customized approach intentionally teaches students how to locate and use institutional resources and the expectations that the institution has of its students, while offering opportunities to create networks of support essential for student success and retention (Kuh, Cruce, Shoup, Kinzie, & Gonyea, 2008), and speaks to a number of considerations highlighted in the literature (e.g., Ambrose, Bridges, DiPietro, Lovett, & Norman, 2010). Other factors considered include balancing the needs of the Faculty, the resources available, and the goals, demands, and interests of the students. In this paper, we describe the course’s design, structure and implementation, key components of the course, support from upper-level science students, and preliminary pedagogical results, which assess its impact on and perception by students.

publication date

  • June 20, 2016