Colleges and universities of all types understand the importance of transitioning new students into the rigors of higher education. Cengage Learning sponsored many events at the recent Conference on the First Year Experience (FYE) in Dallas, Texas, where 1,800 attendees discussed how to facilitate student success. Colleges sent faculty, first-year experience program managers, directors of student success and academic services staff. The conference ran sessions on topics including seminars, orientation and common read programs for incoming freshmen, transfer students and military veterans.

Attendees could choose from among many sessions over the two and a half days. Innovative presenters talked about engaging first-year students with social media, reinventing seminar courses to teach students how to think, research and present at the college level, and crafting orientation programs for first-generation college students. Cengage Learning authors also presented a number of sessions throughout the conference including one on creating a powerful syllabus and one that considered whether mindfulness is something that can be taught.

Engaging with You at FYE 2015

Cengage Learning’s booth in the exhibit hall offered many chances for interaction between attendees and the company. Our cozy reading areas and “kitchen table” provided a warm environment in which faculty could explore our learning solutions, such as MindTap for College Success—a learning solution designed to engage students and energize the first-year course. Meanwhile, a scrolling Twitter group feed in our booth helped attendees keep up with all of the #FYEpassion—and visitors could also use colorful pens to leave messages on the table. Furthermore, faculty could check in with our authors Christine Harrington, Constance Staley, and Steve Staley during their friendly and informal “Ed Talks” on student success.

During focus groups, we spent time listening to faculty as they ideated the future of the College Success course. Every attendee agreed that creating a sense of community, allowing students to collaborate, and most importantly, helping them think critically about their own success are KEY factors that will shape this course for years to come.

Greg Rivera, Senior Professional Educator with Cengage Learning’s TeamUP Peer-to-Peer Faculty Development group, also led the session “Engage and Save: Quick Methods For Engaging Students with MindTap in College Success,” which explored best practices for the organization, development, and effective utilization of the MindTap platform within face-to-face, blended, or online courses.

Other fun events—such as our “Tweet-up/Meet-up” cocktail hour and our ”Ticket to Success” scavenger hunt – gave us all a chance to interact and have a good time around the topic we all feel passionate about: college success!

Recognizing and Rewarding Faculty Success

During the conference, we were also pleased to sponsor and present the 2015 “Outstanding First-Year Student Advocate” Awards. Ten educators received this award, which recognized their commitment to supporting and sustaining student success efforts on their campuses.

The FYE conference showed that colleges around the world understand the importance of helping new students prepare for their college education. In his Plenary Address, George Mehaffy (Vice President for Academic Leadership and Change at American Association of State Colleges and Universities) said that it is time for action on a grand scale and that institutions need to create a culture that commits to building programs for the first year. The First-Year Experience Conference is a great way to prepare for that change.

Did you attend this year’s FYE Conference? We’d love to hear your experiences and take-away points! Please share them in the comments.

Enjoy photos from this year’s event below! To keep up with Cengage Learning’s College Success team, follow them on Twitter @1stYRSuccess


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