Background of First-year Programs at WWU

History of First-year Interest Groups

The First-year Interest Groups program at WWU was the result of a task force formed in 1998 to study the freshmen year experience and make recommendations for improving it. The task force was encouraged to formulate ideas that would improve Western's freshmen year experience, including curricular and co-curricular dimensions. The task force looked for programs and interventions which would construct an integrated experience for freshmen to enhance their skills of inquiry and academic success through some of the following elements:

  • Increased opportunities for small group interaction;
  • Improved articulation and coherence of GURs;
  • Improved connection to support services already available;
  • Increased common linking experiences to create a sense of community;
  • Enhanced living/learning environment; and
  • Faculty development opportunities for working with freshmen.

Besides strategies for strengthening current programs and structures, the task force recommended new initiatives:

  1. Restructuring GUR program to enhance meaning and connection
  2. Initiating a Freshmen Interest Group (FIG) Program (See First-year Interest Groups program)

History of First-year Experience

First-year Experience (FYE) courses at Western were developed in response to the general education requirements that were approved by the Academic Coordinating Commission on April 27, 2004:

"We will endeavor to establish a number of courses that will provide freshmen with a comparatively small class of academic merit which will also provide an introduction to the University and academic life. Some of these will be altogether new courses, some of them will be special offerings of existing courses. These courses will not be required, but many of them will contribute towards satisfaction of existing GUR requirements, e.g., an offering of Liberal Studies 121 limited to 25 students available to freshmen only."