Iowa State University

Inside Iowa State
Apr. 03, 1998

Report shares ideas for improving student experiences

by Linda Charles

The experiences of new students during their first six weeks at Iowa State generally determine whether or not they will stay, says associate provost Ed Lewis.

"Most have decided by the end of six weeks whether this is the place for them," Lewis said. "We need to work hard to get students off to a good start."

Iowa State also needs to strengthen student learning, bring the offices of Academic Affairs and Student Affairs closer together and encourage faculty interaction with students beyond the classroom.

These are the main conclusions from an intensive look at how to improve the undergraduate learning experience, said Lewis, who coordinated the project. The project began with a 16- month study of various aspects of undergraduate education by five task forces and was followed by input from the university community on the task forces' recommendations.

Several initiatives will be implemented as a result of the study, including:

There also will be continued emphasis on creating learning communities for students, Lewis said. Fall semester, ISU had 42 learning teams involving 530 students. Another 200 students were involved in learning teams through programs such as the Honors program and the program for Women in Science and Engineering.

A Center for Writing Across the Curriculum also is being studied, Lewis said. Center staff would help faculty and students from all disciplines incorporate good writing into every aspect of their academic experience.

"We also are seeking ways to encourage faculty to interact with undergraduates outside the classroom, including expanded faculty development support," Lewis said.

"These new initiatives will help us reaffirm what has always been a cornerstone at Iowa State -- excellence in undergraduate education."

The full report, Commitment to Undergraduate Education, is available in the Provost Office.

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