March 29 faculty-led workshop: Helping first-gen students

By Richard Miller, Academic Outreach & Innovation

first-generationPULLMAN, Wash. – Two of every five students at Washington State University are the first in their families to attend college. Half of those first-generation students are ethnic minorities.

To help them succeed, the next faculty-led workshop will offer ideas for providing “cues and clues,” and share research on “stereotype threat theory.”

“First-Generation Students on the College Campus” will be 12:10 p.m. Tuesday, March 29, in CUE 518 and will be live-streamed. Lunch will be provided. Please register here.

The workshop will be led by Eva Navarijo, program coordinator for WSU’s first scholars program, and English faculty member Anna Plemons, director of the critical literacies achievement and success program.

Cues and clues, they said, means making procedures explicit, eliminating ambiguity and projecting a supportive presence.

The goal, Plemons said, is to let “students spend their time thinking deep thoughts and not wondering about how to log on to Blackboard or how the library works.”

Stereotype threat theory means that if students feel like they may be negatively stereotyped, their ability to perform is diminished – regardless of whether that stereotyping actually exists.

Faculty can help, Plemons said, by simply explaining the theory to the class.

“People will realize that this is an experience they’ve been having, but they didn’t have a name for it,” she said.

The university’s efforts, Navarijo said, reflect its land grant mission to increase the number of first-generation students.

“WSU wants to continue to be a premiere institution for access,” she said. “We want to give first-gen students both the opportunity to come to college and the resources and support they need when they get here.”

This workshop series is sponsored by the WSU Provost’s Office, Teaching Academy and Learning Innovations. For more information, please visit the Learning Innovations trainings page.