Education - Page 11 - Students, from page 4

- Page 11
Students, from page 4
many students would arrive without reading the book.“We did not want a student’s first academic experience to be seen as a failure,” says Alexander (Sandy) Pope, co-director for Public Affairs and Civic Engagement (PACE) and assistant professor of education at Salisbury. “The great thing about civic reflection is that there is no preparation needed, and there is not a ‘right’ answer to the questions.”

During orientation, students are broken into small groups, and a current Salisbury student and either a faculty or staff member is present. “After a couple of ice breakers, students are given three short texts – usually a two-minute read for each text – and for one hour, the texts are discussed. A facilitator helps ensure that meaningful conversations happen, but the real goal of the facilitator is be as invisible as possible and allow the students to speak,” explains Pope. In addition to encouraging meaningful conversations, the program allows for quiet reflection, which is a nice break from the large amount of information to absorb at orientation such as housing and financial matters.

“We found that 92 percent of students agree that they felt welcomed at Salisbury, 90 percent felt that they were heard by others, and 90 percent felt that they had listened to others well,” says Pope of some of the school’s internal polling on the civic reflection program.

Pope notes that the program at Salisbury was developed by Elizabeth Lynn at the Center for Civic Reflection, which is affiliated with Valparaiso University. The Center for Civic Reflection came to Salisbury’s campus to help train PACE staff, which, in turn, went toValparaiso’s campus for workshops designed to “train the trainer,” providing PACE staff the necessary training so that they can train facilitators to lead discussion during orientation. •

PHOTO DESCRIPTION: Right: Community College of Baltimore County employees wear T-shirts promoting the College Promise program during Welcome Week.