At Trent, faculty and staff work together to ensure first-year students start their academic journey on the right foot. With over 300 in-person first-year classes at Trent’s two campuses as well as courses online, collaboration across Trent's colleges, departments, and disciplines is key to ensuring a strong framework of support for students, as well as for the faculty and staff that work with them.
One of the ways Trent works to ensure a positive experience for first-year students is by learning from each other. Each year, the Centre for Teaching and Learning brings together instructors, lab demonstrators, senior leadership, and student support staff for biannual First-Year Caucus meetings. The goal of the Caucus is to discuss and share observations, challenges, and successful strategies in first-year teaching.
“First-year courses are often large, foundational classes and the Caucus allows instructors to swap tips and review evidence-based strategies for engaging students during lectures, tutorials, and labs,” says Dana Capell, senior education developer at the Centre for Teaching and learning.
The December caucus meeting focused on Indigenizing courses, adapting assessments for AI, and incorporating insights from the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL). Over 30 instructors, lab demonstrators, and student support staff were in attendance.
Trent University offers a variety of programs and services for students. For incoming and first-year students, programs include:
- The Bridge Program: a transition to university program where students can earn 0.5 credit in an online, small group setting with wrap-around supports before the September start date.
- Academic Skills’ Transition to University and Learning Labs: resources and programs for students to learn and practice the skills they need for academic success.
- Ishkodehwin Indigenous Peer Mentorship Program: supports incoming Indigenous students with their transition to university life through mentoring and cultural engagement.
- Rebound: a peer mentoring program that pairs first-year students with upper-year mentors.
- Orientation programs: a week of activities to help new students navigate the social, extracurricular and academic realms of university life.