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First time full time freshmen are exhibiting the desire to get involved on campus, yet much apprehension still remains. This may be attributed to the recent return of in person instruction after the impacts of the global coronavirus pandemic, as well as the palpable distance that lingered with remote learning. As such, students’ transition from fully asynchronous / web-live synchronous instruction back to in person education has been tumultuous to say the least. Freshmen continue to express written interest in campus involvement; however, several are anxious and hesitant when it comes to actually committing to group interactions, public speaking, and other extracurricular engagements. Perhaps this is due to a combination of factors: recent lack of socialization, heavy reliance on technology for communication, distressing loss of middle adolescence years due to the shutdown, and an increase in mental illness symptoms via subsequent isolation / disconnection, health scares, economic stress, and unprocessed grief. With all of this in mind, as well as the awareness of the somewhat debilitating pressures of newfound adulthood, my first year seminar course embraces the simplicity and happiness that is often reminisced on childhood. The topic is entitled “revisiting your inner child,” as my students are encouraged to bring the joys of “being a kid again” not only into our classroom, but also into their daily lives. After instructing this course for two semesters - both hybrid and fully in person - with the emphasis on drawing upon a child-like perspective, I have noticed within the first few weeks of the term that student engagement has increased. Additionally, well into the conclusion of the semester, attendance has been consistently high, and self-expression has blossomed as students dabble in identity exploration and create lasting friendships.

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student engagement; student success; sense of belonging; identity exploration; academic persistence; academic achievement; campus field trips; balancing autonomy; resource sharing; campus collaboration; first-year seminar; first-year experience; first-year students


Education | Higher Education | Scholarship of Teaching and Learning

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Revisiting Your Inner Child: Increasing FYS Students’ Engagement and Sense of Belonging