“What I Learned at the First Year Experience Conference” by Kim Henige

April 16, 2012

The First Year Experience Conference in San Antonio was an extremely practical conference for me, and a couple of sessions stood out to me.

By far, my favorite session was “Teaching with Panache: The Creation of a Memorable Experiences that Engage Students as Active Partners in Learning”. I couldn’t write down ideas fast enough! The presenter, Brad Garner was great. He has many clever, yet simple ideas to keep the students awake and active during class time. Brad has a website and free online newsletter with teaching and learning resources so I can continue to learn from him forever! You can also access past newsletters on the website at: www.sc.udu/fye/toolbox.


Things like:

  • Get them talking at the beginning of class and the momentum will continue
  • Add entertaining pictures to PowerPoint slides (not just diagrams and graphs)

I also took a lot away from “The Science of Motivation: Using Research & Theory to Influence Student Learning”. The presenter talked about research in this area and learned helplessness. Some of these things I already knew, but it’s nice to hear them again because sometimes I forget and get caught up in other things. I learned:

  • Teacher expectations affect student performance. I am now more conscious about the way I talk to students in and out of class.
  • To focus on effort, not ability and not to give false hope.
  • The importance of building students’ self-efficacy and its role in motivation.

There are other great things in my notes, but I’m not sure which session they came from. Here are some other useful tips I’ve learned:

  • On the first day, arrive early and stand at the door and welcome the students as they enter. I’m going to do that!
  • When I walk around campus, I should have my head up (not in my phone) so that I can say hi to students. I have already done this.
  • In class, I should tell students that when they see me on campus, please come up and say hello.
  • I also learned about a website, www.wordle.net where you can input a list of of words and it creates “word clouds”. One way to use this is to have students write down answers to a question or thoughts at the end of a lecture and then use them to make a word cloud that you post on Moodle. There are endless ideas and resources out there!

Kim Henige is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Kinesiology at California State University, Northridge, teaching Freshman Seminar as well as lower and upper division Kinesiology courses. Henige has been instructing at California State University, Northridge for four years and has been with Building Connections for Success since Fall 2010.