This is the mother blog for the course through which all students’ blogs will feed. These blog posts include the students’ reflections on the course texts and discussions.
First, a housekeeping note: this is the master page for UNIV 291-001, taught by Stephanie Tignor. We meet on Wednesdays at 2:00. If you’re looking for UNIV 291-002, taught by Annia Dowell-Wiltshire, visit that section’s page.
About The Course
In fall 2016, VCU launched its first ever freshmen success module targeted at first-year students who express an interest in studying abroad. The course was designed to help sustain student interest in study abroad at its peak: in the first year. Taught by Education Abroad professionals, the semester-long 1-credit course successfully enrolled over 40 first-year students in the pilot semester, is currently being taught in spring 2017, and will be offered again in fall 2017.
Although successful pre-departure courses are offered at other institutions to prepare students for an upcoming study abroad experience, those courses are typically taught to students who are already registered for an education abroad experience. In contrast, VCU’s freshmen module introduced in fall 2016, UNIV 291-Maximizing Your Study Abroad, is a 1-credit topics substitution for the university’s UNIV 101-Introduction to the University courses which aim to introduce new students to the expectations of a university education. UNIV 291-Maximizing Your Study Abroad is designed to expose first-year students to the concept of study abroad and to walk them through the logistics involved in study abroad program selection, application, and preparation. The course introduces students to global education experiences available at VCU including the global education living-learning program, VCU Globe, as well as opportunities to engage with the university’s rich international student population.
The course prepares students for cross-cultural engagement and includes an assessment of intercultural development using the IDI. Students learn how to successfully navigate the logistics of study abroad including program and funding opportunities. Students gain skills to prepare them to live and study in a country and culture other than their own. Students who successfully complete the course receive $500 towards the cost of a study abroad experience.
About The Blog
Students are required to write weekly blog entries as a part of the course. After reading the assigned weekly texts which include videos, articles, and online resources, students are prompted to reflect on what they read. The weekly exercise is an opportunity for students to flex their ever important writing muscles which prepares them for the writing they will continue to do throughout their academic and professional careers.
About The Instructor
Stephanie Tignor has worked in the field of international education for over a decade. During her time in the VCU Global Education Office, she has held a variety of positions and currently serves as the director of Education Abroad. Stephanie oversees administration of the university’s study abroad and exchange programs including a large portfolio of faculty-led programs.
She is an alumna of VCU, at which she earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Music and English. She first discovered her passion for international education and cross-cultural exchange while on a semester study abroad program in Edinburgh, Scotland, through the International Student Exchange Program (ISEP). As a graduate student in English, she studied abroad in Peru and spent time volunteering in Ecuador as a teacher of English as a foreign language. She has also co-led service and study abroad programs to Mexico and Malaysia, and has led a program in the U.S. for students from VCU’s Partnership institutions in China.