Bitonte to pilot intro course

The Bitonte College of Health and Human Services will pilot a course this spring to help incoming freshmen better transition into life at Youngstown State University.

The one-credit course, Introduction to the Bitonte College of Health and Human Services, will be required for undecided majors and students in need of developmental coursework.

Tammy King, associate dean of Bitonte, said 75 percent of colleges offer similar courses, and the one she and five other Bitonte advisers developed is similar to those at Slippery Rock University and Kent State University.

Cathy Brinjak, head of the first-year experience program at Slippery Rock, said orientation courses help students acclimate to campus life.

“We’ve had students say it’s been one of the most helpful things for them, because it’s helped them meet other students and become integrated into the college campus,” Brinjak said.

King said she and her staff plan to work with the Internal Review Board at Youngstown State University, which reviews research projects on human subjects, to evaluate the success of the course.

They intend to track the course completion and success rates at YSU of 100 students who took the course versus 100 students who did not.

“We want to make sure that this is truly having an impact,” King said.

King said they aren’t requiring the course for students in majors like nursing or dental hygiene because of the volume of coursework already involved for those students.

The Student Success Committee, put together as part of the 2020 strategic plan, hopes to propose a similar course to be implemented by colleges across all of YSU.

Travis Battiest, a graduate student on the committee, said the committee will propose the first-year experience course at the end of fall semester.

King said she and the Bitonte advisers met with the Academic Quality and Student Success Committee earlier this year to present their version of the course.

“Our college has already said we’ll share the materials,” King said. “Nobody will have to reinvent the wheel. Any professor is more than welcome to use the materials.”

King said they will continue tweaking the intro course to make sure it is an effective introduction to YSU. Coursework for the spring semester will include assignments like visiting the Center for Student Progress, identifying personal learning styles and attending a free YSU event.

“Each college could design it and make it as specific for their disciplines as they like,” King said. “We decided to keep it a little more broad and general.”

The course, HAHS 1500, will have four sections in the spring with a maximum of 50-60 students per section.

“During orientation, they get hit with a lot of information all at once, so this way [students] have an orientation course,” said Kellie Mills-Dobozi, an adviser for Bitonte. “They’re getting an entire semester of orientation services.”

King said that, though the course is primarily designed for Bitonte students, students from other colleges can register if seats are available.

King said she and the Bitonte advisers have been developing the course for about nine months; it was approved at the YSU Academic Senate meeting in September.  

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