Duration of FIG mentor seminar classes increases

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Future FIG mentors study on Tuesday afternoon. The new course is more intense than previous training but now offers course credit and a more diverse curriculum.

Photo Credit: Zen Ren | Daily Texan Staff

The first-year interest group mentor seminar class that trains new FIG mentors each spring semester now requires more work, but offers course credit to make up for the time increase.

The length of UGS 104 will be increased from five weeks to eight weeks, and will now offer one hour of credit instead of zero, said FIG program coordinator Lisa Valdez. The FIG program is for first semester freshmen, a program that places students into small groups with the purpose of aiding their academic and social transition from high school to college. FIG training occurs only in the spring while the FIG program is carried out only during fall semesters.

With the three additional weeks, Valdez said the future mentors will receive more training on student development theory, group management strategies and cultural awareness. Valdez said there are no additional costs with these changes, as the FIG budget has not grown or decreased.

“We are a university of a lot of people,” Valdez said. “We wanted to make sure we were giving our mentors the tools that they needed in order to facilitate discussion and have their students meet other students who come from a different background.”

Valdez said when the FIG program started there was no Facebook or Twitter and the needs of students have changed since the rise in use of social media. Valdez said students now want to see more study groups and academic-related topics discussed in the FIG.

“At the time FIG started, there was a need for students to have a way to build a social network on campus,” Valdez said. “Students don’t necessarily need that social network built up anymore, they kind of come in with it. As they meet people here on campus, they can easily add the person on Facebook.”

Kyrstal Parsons, public relations and German senior, said the FIG program needs both social and academic resources for students. Parsons, who has been a FIG mentor for two sessions, said the FIG group she mentored in the fall of 2011 did well both academically and socially.

“I think they made better friendships than they might have made if they didn’t do the activities we did,” Parsons said.

Valdez said the additional training mentors will have will include reading assignments about the millennial generation, those born in the late ’80s and early ’90s. These readings will help mentors understand their students and the relationship with the FIG group facilitator, Valdez said. Every FIG group has a facilitator, which is a University staff member who helps in the FIG group.

“We wanted to be able to give students information about a better understanding of themselves and their generation, and then also possibly working with someone like me, who is Generation X, and has a very, kind of different view on the way things work,” Valdez said.

Valdez said she hopes these classes will better empower the FIG mentor.

“If they have a great understanding of who they are and how they learn, the mentors are able to then really teach it to other students,” Valdez said.

Textiles and apparel junior Anne Lawrence said topics about the millennial generation and readings on student development theory makes her feel more qualified to be a FIG mentor.

“I think it exposes you to a more deeper level,” Lawrence said. “I think the class makes you focus on more individual traits.”

Valdez said the changes are permanent and will apply to UGS 104 in future spring semesters.

Printed on Wednesday, February 15, 2012 as:FIG mentors receive credit for training