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Wise 101 at Wesleyan

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“The skills students learn through IF can change how they see all their classes.” —Wesleyan Faculty Member

Wesleyan College just wrapped up the third year of WISe 101, a mandatory first-year seminar that was recently revised with the help of the Interactivity Foundation. Every Friday students work in student facilitated discussion teams to explore the course content. On “IF Fridays” students learned how to facilitate their own discussions. As faculty members report, “students loved it.”

At the 3-year mark of the Wesleyan-Interactivity Foundation collaboration, about a quarter of the Wesleyan faculty have taught with the IF process in WISe 101. Faculty members have begun to introduce IF discussions into other courses, and they have used the process for faculty meetings. Students report using the IF discussion process outside of classes as well, for example in student organizations. With help from IF, a pair of faculty members are working on developing senior capstone courses that integrate the IF process. The courses will be piloted in 2015, when the first Wesleyan students to use the IF process will enter their senior year.

Each year of the class has seen new innovations. This year the peer mentors (one per class section) worked together to model an IF discussion for the new students. Together with the students, the faculty are developing a growing body of resources, including discussion activities and discussion “cards,” that help students enhance their facilitation plans.

The Interactivity Foundation continues to work with Wesleyan College to learn from this experience of integrating the IF discussion process into a first-year seminar course. We hope to learn more about the ways this approach to teaching can enhance the development of soft-skills that are vital for student success. In their self-ratings, for example, students indicate improvements in things like their ability: to frame issues from multiple perspectives, to resolve conflicts within a group, to communicate across cultures, and to share ideas during collaborative work. As we look to the future, we’ll continue to explore ways to assess and share the impacts of this course.

For more information contact Jeff Prudhomme, [email protected].