Campus reading programs to change

Starting in May, the Tech Center for Academic Enrichment will be changing the First-Year Reading Program into a new freshman program called Project One. The new program will focus on select forms of media and short readings that will accompany online discussions among faculty and staff.

“The goal is for students to see the amazing Yellow Jackets who will become their community and for students to get a taste of the interdisciplinary and creative possibilities that await them. Faculty and student leaders will join the first years in the online discussions that will then be put together into discussion groups when they arrive on campus,” said Director of Academic Transition Programs, Nirmal Trivedi.

While any solid media and text has not been officially selected, Trivedi wants to broaden the focus of the first year program in order to engage students. In addition, students will be encouraged to participate in online discussion and potential assignments, such as short videos and interaction with peer and team leaders.

“The project begins in the summer when the students receive short readings which broadly means videos, websites or music. Students will get access to an interactive website where they will see how to create a profile and introduce themselves to each other and then will be asked to share a response to the readings.”

Trivedi believed that the former program lacked engagement and enthusiasm, and by revamping the program, he hopes to make the program less like an assignment and more as an introduction to faculty and students in different fields on campus.

“While the reading program was successful in some areas in the sense that it engaged a number of students and the people that expressed a lot of enthusiasm for it didn’t really reach the range and breath of interest and excitement that I thought this program merits,” Trivedi said. “For many schools with common freshman reading programs, it feels almost like a high school assignment. It’s less personal and less about engaging peers with each other.”

In addition to media of focus in Project One, Trivedi plans to add more fictional works into the program instead of nonfiction works, such as past assigned novels The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks and Living with Complexity. He states that many scientific fields are interdisciplinary, and with works, such as science fiction, students can engage in discussion over the contemporary issues or ethics in scientific fields.

“Right now, we have a committee of faculty from all over the campus who are viewing a series of novels,” Trivedi said. “I’m trying to lead the committee to a science-fiction work and then tie that science-fiction work to contemporary questions and issues in science and technology which are interdisciplinary in nature.”

The program for first-year students will also be influenced by a committee from different areas of the campus, and students will be guided by fellow student leaders through the website and GT1000.

“While this program will be called Project One, I want mentors third and fourth years to be able to participate and be a part of these moments,” Trivedi said. “The idea to reform the program came from me, but it has now grown to have partners all across the campus, such as the Library, EdTech, OIT, faculty members from every college and student focus groups.”

Along with GT1000, the new program is also being considered for use in introductory English classes in order to enhance their focus on WOVEN.

“The freshman class will be the base and I want to involve their peer leaders and team leaders as participants in a way that is similar to role models,” Trivedi said. “For example, students could meet team or peer leaders who are interested in robotics virtually and start a relationship before they even arrive on campus.”

Future announcements on the program and its selections are expected toward the end of May.