College 1 Professional Development Workshop

Virtually all incoming UC Santa Cruz frosh enroll in sections of their college’s "Core" course in their first (Fall) quarter. All read the same books, attend the same plenary meetings, grapple with the same complex ideas, and engage with the same set of foundational academic practices. The ten residential college’s Core courses are thus crucial transition-to-college courses: by addressing big ideas in small, demanding classes, and by introducing students to practices and approaches common in the academy, they knit a college together, ensuring that students have a shared community of ideas that maps onto a shared residential experience, and set of skills that will contribute to their academic success. 

The transition to college is particularly important to underrepresented, first-generation, and low-income students. The ten residential colleges' "Core" classes at UC Santa Cruz are especially important to these populations. Overlapping and shared intellectual and physical geographies, together with the intimacy of small classes, contribute to sense of belonging. A well-developed sense of belonging, we know from research, is especially valuable in contributing to retention of first-year students.

While retaining their relatively small size and their physical location at the ten UC Santa Cruz Colleges, Core classes are poised to undergo a major conceptual change in Fall 2018, shifting from first-quarter writing courses to first-quarter reading and critical thinking courses. Called “College 1,” these classes will become the first part of an articulated critical literacy curriculum that continues, after Core, with a sequence of writing courses. This shift recognizes the significant challenges the majority of college students face in encountering the demands of reading assigned at the university, challenges especially acute for students from under-resourced high schools. College 1 will teach students about genres of reading, strategies for reading, and attaining a sense of belonging in the academy (“academic ethos”)—core skills that contribute to students’ success in subsequent classes in and out of the majors.

Lecturers who teach Core have focused for years on the teaching of writing. With the shift in focus to “Academic Literacy and Ethos,” lecturers must rethink how they teach Core in order to be able to teach their students effectively. The shift in emphasis will entail significant changes in how instructors conceptualize the class, plan class time, design assignments, assess student progress and more.

Funds were used to convene a professional development workshop in September, 2017 for college Core lecturers preparing to teach College 1 for the first time in fall 2018. The workshop provided instructors with a framework for thinking about the new Core model and enabled them to begin developing sample course materials. 

Collaborators: Provosts of all undergraduate residential colleges and lecturers from Crown, Merrill, Kresge, Porter, Cowell, Rachel Carson, Stevenson, Oakes, College Nine, and College 10

Lead Contact Name: Elizabeth Abrams
Lead Contact Email:
Theme: Transforming Classroom Pedagogy