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Engaged Learning and Co-Curricular Support Initiatives

Action Item (as stated with DEI strategic plan launch in 2016)

The university will increase the capacity of U-M Student Life’s First Year Experience curriculum through the course “Making the Most of Michigan” and other programs aimed at equalizing access to resources, removing perceived organizational obstacles to seeking help and decreasing barriers to academic and social pursuits for all students. These efforts will also enlarge wellness and educational programs that foster identity and cultural enrichment and will expand partnerships with student affairs professionals in schools and colleges.

Progress update 

During Year Five, Student Life (SL) invested in its successful Thriving in the First Year framework to connect and engage first-year and transfer students as they navigated a traditionally residential campus from predominantly virtual spaces worldwide. In Fall 2020, Student Life Assessment and Research led two data collection efforts to support planning and decision-making for the Winter 2021 semester. These included a survey of all degree-seeking students and a set of five focus groups consisting of undergraduate housing residents. Findings highlight a variety of student concerns including extreme stress, loneliness and isolation and lack of engagement in course material, with all concerns heightened among underrepresented students. In response, SL prioritized key student engagement initiatives such as early communication, Welcome to Michigan and educational and community-building opportunities that foster identity and cultural enrichment. 

Early welcome programs are essential in bringing critical information and community-building opportunities to students as they begin their educational journey at U-M. In Year Five, the International Center engaged 1,434 students in Pre-Departure Orientation sessions, peer-to-peer meetings, workshops, office hours and a self-enrolled Summer Orientation Canvas course. Both of the Multi-Ethnic Student Affairs (MESA) Early Welcome Programs were also conducted virtually and attracted a total of 74 participants. For the first time, MESA collaborated with the student organizations UAAO and NASA to co-create similar opportunities addressing issues relevant to Asian American and Pacific Islanders students (28 participants), Native American Students (3 participants) and others.

Our First-Year Experience (FYE) quickly shifted critical in-person programs such as Relationship Remix and Change it Up! into a student-developed webinar focused on healthy relationships and bystander intervention. In Fall 2020, 6,014 incoming first-year and transfer students completed the webinar. FYE also created a new Community Matters Cohort Program to provide an opportunity for students to build community in small groups, practice relationship skills, connect with upper-division student facilitators and meet others with similar interests. SL’s signature Making the Most of Michigan course enrolled 114 students in Fall 2020 and 54 students in Winter 2021. We also initiated an FYE Student Advisory Board made up of 11 first-year and transfer students to provide new opportunities for direct student feedback and engagement on topics ranging from resource access to the impacts of COVID-19.

Welcome to Michigan 2020 was delivered primarily through a Canvas course that organized various programs and resources into eight experiential areas: Spaces & Places, Community Building, Get Involved, Civic Engagement, Campus Resources, Arts Engagement, Spirit & Tradition and Health & Wellness. All new students were automatically enrolled in the Canvas course in the week preceding move-in. Of the 8,327 participants, 6,911 were new students and 1,321 were transfer students. At the conclusion of Welcome, 76.9% (6,334 students) had logged into Canvas to view the Welcome course.

In the lead-up to Election Day 2020, the Voting Challenge team broadened and strengthened its coalition to provide students with up-to-date information and the opportunity to vote on campus via the City Clerk’s satellite office. We worked with our on- and off-campus partners to ensure the rights of our eligible student voters in a year unlike any other and established an infrastructure to carry our successes forward. A tri-campus collaboration—which was a key element of our 2020 efforts—will continue with the joint hosting of educational events and a strategic planning process as Sl works to involve students in our democracy, year round and at all levels. 

Through the Trotter Multicultural Center, the Intercultural Development Inventory reached 272 first-year students from two sections of Nursing N-196 and as part of the M-STEM programs (M-ENGIN and M-SCI). To help connect students with resources, the How to Flourish at Michigan wellness and identity series hosted eight programs for 150 students, and the Interfaith program presented a student panel and launched a video titled “Students’ Experiences Finding Community” that was viewed 89 times. 

Looking ahead, Student Life will expand on the success of its Thriving in the First Year framework by including second-year students. We will also prioritize Student Engagement Task Force projects to assure an engaging residential experience that connects students with resources, services and programs available to them.

Responsibility: Division of Student Life