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Class of 2014 - The Middle of Everywhere

​Common Text Pilot Program Intended to Acquaint Freshmen with College

Providence, R.I.—Providence College freshmen enrolled as majors in the School of Professional Studies recently took part in a pilot common text program during New Student Orientation.

The program was paid for through a mini-grant issued by the College’s Student Engagement Advisory Committee, which promotes student engagement on campus, and through support from the Office of Academic Affairs.

Funds for the mini-grant were provided by the Davis Educational Foundation, which awarded the College $250,000 in 2009 to support continuing efforts to promote and enhance student engagement in learning.

The effort was a pilot for a potential common text program that would include all new students in the future. A “One Campus/One Question" committee was appointed this past January to determine the feasibility of instituting a common reading for all new students and to explore how the program may be linked to New Student Orientation.

Book about diversity chosen

Approximately 100 students, who are majoring in elementary/special education, secondary education, music education, social work, and health policy and management, received Mary Pipher’s The Middle of Everywhere at their orientation meetings in June.

In the book, Pipher descriptively analyzes Lincoln, Nebraska’s recent experiences with immigrants from war-torn areas around the world.

The students were asked to read the book over the summer and post their reflections online. During the first week of the new academic year, the students gathered in Feinstein 400 with upperclassmen and faculty members to discuss the book and share their reactions. There will be follow-up events throughout the academic year.

“We chose the book because it specifically deals with diversity issues that these freshmen are likely going to need to address in the helping professions they have chosen,” said Dr. Marcy B. Zipke, assistant professor of education.

Zipke said including the common text program in the School of Professional Studies’ orientation proved to be a new and effective way for students to become acclimated with college life.

“The program was fantastic, in terms of creating an interesting and successful meeting with the new students,” she said. “Most of the students had written something about themselves and their culture, so everyone came prepared and comfortable with the material. Sharing those projects was a great way to get to know one another.”


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