There are numerous areas on campus that students can find support, ranging from Academic support, health, and well-being. Likewise, students often find support from their peers in the form of affinity groups, halls, and study groups.
In a typical year students might come across these support centers serendipitously and student groups might form naturally in a residential setting. However, the potential isolation that students might face this Fall(especially in a scenario where students are remote) poses challenges to introducing (and reintroducing) students to support areas on campus and fostering the growth of support groups.
A modular online experience, starting in the Summer, geared at achieving multiple purposes:
-Introducing students to campus support areas
-Connect students to support groups (i.e. hall groups, health and wellness support groups)
-Provide a venue for developing new student support groups and networks
These online modules would connect students early to staff, peers and resources by providing interactive introductions to each of the services and resources provided by each support area on campus, such as Career Development, Center for Teaching & Learning/Tutoring, Health Services, Library, etc. Each of these modules could include a low-stakes activity (e.g. a discussion forum, virtual group meeting with a support staff/peer). In this sense, it would be a similar model to Davidson 101, albeit with some key differences. First off, this online experience would not be credit-bearing, as that can produce the sense of it being a burden to students. Secondly, these online modules would center specifically on connecting students to support groups and building relationships with support area staff.
There are several ways this online experience could operate to create a foundation for support groups on campus. One would be to structure the experience so that students explore the modules in pre-defined cohorts, such as RLO Hall assignments. These cohorts would engage in the interactive components of these modules, which would foster connection within the cohort.
Another way this online experience could also encourage growth of student support groups is by providing a venue for new support networks. For instance, one idea explored in the Student Support Services Design Team centered on connecting small student groups with peer mentors, who in turn would be trained by Holistic Advisors. These peer mentors could lead weekly sessions focused on educating fellow students support services. Such sessions could be hosted through the framework of this proposed online experience.
During the Summer this online experience could be tied to orientation (or a re-orientation, for returning students), but could also extend into Fall Semester. Additional modules could be included that focus on timely topics. Before midterms this online experience could host a module about coping with stress, that various support areas on campus could contribute to and perhaps in collaboration with peer mentors.
-Support area staff
-Orientation planning group