TWU provides free writing tutors, peer guides and extra support for first year students
Trinity Western University is developing new and innovative ways to bring students the full TWU experience this fall, regardless of where students are globally.
“Your safety and health is our priority,” says Dr. Laurie Matthias, TWU Associate Provost, Teaching and Learning, “We are also focused on giving you the quality education that is transformative. That is what we’ve always been known for.”
Delivering high-quality education while protecting health and safety
Trinity Western is committed to providing high-quality education in a Multi-Access format this fall. Dr. Matthias is leading the way. She and her team are committed to ensuring that the quality of students’ education remains exceptionally high.
“Multi-Access education is at its heart about focusing on how we can deliver, the full, rich, Trinity Western experience in multiple ways, so that you can access it, no matter what your personal situation or choices may be – while keeping you safe,” Dr. Matthias explains.
Building community and a sense of belonging
One of the programs that Dr. Matthias oversees is the new First Year Cohort. It is a special program that intentionally groups incoming students together into teams of 15 people who experience a core set of courses together, build friendships and receive mentoring support.
“Everything in this cohort bundle is being planned deliberately to welcome you into the TWU community, to help you feel and experience all that we are – so that you know that you belong here,” says Dr. Matthias.
Because each cohort is made up of 15 students, “You’re going to have 14 instant friends, plus a coach or a guide who’s going to facilitate the group.”
Introducing a Christian liberal arts education
The First Year Cohort is designed to deliver the essence of a Christian liberal arts education, by inviting students to explore the Christian faith and to discover how faith impacts learning and relates to all of life.
Moreover, the program delivers the intangibles of a classroom experience and the sense of community that TWU is known for. “We provide the mentoring experience that you would want, that guidance and shepherding,” says Dr. Matthias, “Our faculty are committed to doing that.”
Friendship and belonging within a shared educational journey
The First Year Cohort course bundle includes three courses that every student in any major will take as part of their Trinity Western journey. This includes Foundations 101 (an introduction to Christian liberal arts education), a foundational English or Writing course, plus Introduction to Philosophy.
Every course in this bundle comes with either specialized peer support or a tutor who will lead discussions, help students gain better understanding, and assist students in research and writing. These peer coaches and tutors are “experienced guides” who help first year students navigate their TWU journey.
“We have deliberately embedded peer tutors into this bundle,” says Dr. Matthias. “You’re going to have a guide who’s been there and done that, to guide and direct you.”
As such, every First Year Cohort group will have up to 15 students, plus three peer guides, three faculty members and one staff leader. This group experience provides community, a sense of belonging, and boosts students’ success during their first year at Trinity Western.
Exploring personal identity and life purpose
When Dr. Matthias and her team considered the foundational courses that first year students take, they found that certain core themes were naturally connecting. One theme is that of identity and purpose.
“What you’re going to experience in the First Year Cohort is multiple ways of looking at that theme, through various perspectives, with different professors,” says Dr. Matthias.
“Having those conversations and learning activities will allow you to explore what your identity is. And we believe your identity is rooted in the fact that you are created in the image of God, for a purpose.”
Putting students first – designing courses with learners in mind
Since the spring semester, faculty at TWU have been busy redesigning their courses and adapting them for Multi-Access teaching. Faculty have been attending training sessions, gathering in focus groups, and proactively learning and adopting best practices in online education.
Dr. Matthias is impressed by their efforts, “It is so exciting to me what has been happening this summer.”
Dr. Matthias and TWU faculty are putting the needs of students first. To new students, she says, “We’ve been thinking about you. We understand how difficult this must be for you to start your university journey at this time.”
“We want to prepare you for the post-COVID world,” she affirms, “And we believe coming and experiencing the community and support here at TWU will better prepare you for whatever life is going to bring you.”
About Trinity Western University
Founded in 1962, Trinity Western University is Canada’s premier Christian liberal arts university dedicated to equipping students to find and fulfill their purpose in life. It is a fully accredited research institution offering liberal arts and sciences, as well as professional schools in business, nursing, education, human kinetics, graduate studies, and arts, media, and culture. TWU emphasizes academic excellence, research, and student engagement in a vibrant faith community devoted to supporting godly leaders seeking to have a transformational impact on culture.
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