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Wednesday, June 18 • 3:30pm - 4:00pm
CON3.08 – The Effects of a First-Year Seminar on Student Use of Research Resources (Room A232)

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First-year seminars (FYS) are one means by which universities are addressing the challenges of large impersonal classes, lack of student engagement, and increased skills development rather than content delivery. One question that is frequently asked is whether student learning outcomes merit the higher costs associated with delivering an intense small group experience compared with the large, cost-effective lectures that dominate first-year course delivery at many Canadian universities. This study examines the types of research sources first-year students access before and after taking a first-year seminar. It seeks to reveal if the FYS experience leads students to consult more reliable, scholarly sources after completing a FYS. Approximately 916 students who were enrolled in an FYS at the University of Guelph from September, 2011 to April, 2013 completed a research resources questionnaire at the beginning of the seminar and again upon completion. Results were assessed to identify any change in students’ selection of research sources between the pre- and post-seminar surveys. Comparisons were also made between the results of FYS students in their first semester and those who took an FYS in their second semester. This study addresses the question of the benefits and learning outcomes of small classes in the first year. It concludes that all students, irrespective of being enrolled in semester one or semester two, report consulting enhanced research resources. Moreover, comparison between semester one and two students finds that students who completed an FYS in semester one have better research resource use than students who begin to take an FYS in semester two. In other words, the improved results are not attributable to the normal transition and maturation process experienced by all students in their first semester. Thus, interdisciplinary First-Year Seminars, which focus on engagement, skills development, and active learning, are shown to enhance student learning beyond general first-year courses.

Wednesday June 18, 2014 3:30pm - 4:00pm
A232 McArthur Hall

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