UW-OEA Updated11/17/2010

UW Freshman Interest Group (FIG)


The UW Freshman Interest Group (FIG) program offers clustered courses for entering freshmen. Since its inception in 1987, FIG program enrollment has grown from about 5% to 54% of the incoming 2009 freshman population. Currently a FIG cluster typically consists of two courses in unrelated disciplines linked by a FIG seminar (GS 199), although there are variations (e.g., residential, exploring the environment, service learning) on this model and students are allowed to sign up for additional classes. The 135 FIGs scheduled for fall quarter 2009 were comprised of 75 unique courses (excluding GS 199). As many courses are included in multiple FIGs, this resulted in 280 course offerings.

The GS 199 seminar, led by an undergraduate peer leader, has traditionally been an "extended orientation" seminar that covers such topics as student transition to college, academic support resources, health and wellness, time management, career planning, and campus involvement and citizenship. In addition to completing online GoPost assignments on these types of topics, 2009 FIG students were also expected to complete a mini-research project involving the UW Common Book, attend an academic event outside the classroom, visit a cultural center or performance, explore a new UW club or civic experience, and finally to reflect on their fall quarter experience.

  In spring 2009, Dean and Vice Provost Ed Taylor asked the Office of Educational Assessment (OEA) to partner with First Year Programs to conduct an evaluation of the FIG program. The FIG program has routinely gathered and used information on student satisfaction; however, a formal assessment by external reviewers has not been conducted since the 1993 comprehensive FIG program evaluation conducted by Vince Tinto and Anne Goodsell. Dr. Taylor asked that an assessment of the FIG Program identify what was working, as well as what was not working, and include an investigation of the goals the university has for students in their first quarter and year at the UW. Table 1 shows a timeline for all the assessment activities involved in this project.
Table 1. FIG Assessment Activities and Timeline

SU 2009 AU 2009 WI 2010 SP 2010 SU 2010

Summer 2009
a) Literature review
b) Internal interviews of present/past UW FIG administrators
c) External interviews of new student program directors and learning community scholars
d) Pattern analysis of 2009 FIG course offerings
e) Development and support of FIG leader peer observation system (SUM09-AU09)

Autumn 2009
f) Pre- and post-quarter surveys of FIG students
g) Post-quarter survey of FIG leaders
h) Post-quarter survey of EnviroLink participants
i) Post-quarter surveys of Academic Learning Link (ALL) students
j) Pre- and post-quarter surveys of non-FIG/ALL freshman students
k) Ongoing assessment consultation (AU09-SU10)

Winter 2010
l) Demographic/academic analysis of FIG, ALL, and non-FIG/ALL students (WI10-SPR10)
m) Conversations with UW faculty, staff administration about FIG program goals (WI10-SPR10)

Spring 2010
n) Survey of all Fall 2009 transfer student admits
o) Analysis of peer observation and FIG program goals conversations (SPR10-SUM10)
p) Quantitative/qualitative analysis of nine student surveys (SPR10-SUM10)

Summer 2010
q) Final assessment reporting


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