Interdisciplinary: Undeclared students

Organizing idea

The Sky is the Limit is a group of four learning teams designed for Open Option (undeclared) students at Iowa State University. Our aim is to help Open Option students explore and choose from the wide variety of majors at ISU, create a sense of community, and to make them aware of the diversity of career opportunities available. 
The Sky is the Limit Learning Community is a full-year program. In the first semester the students are involved in specific learning communities that focus on career exploration, problem solving and team building experiences. In the second semester students will be involved in projects associated with the Freshman Research Initiative (FRI) at ISU. Sixty-three first-year and transfer students are participating in the fall of 2015.

Good Practices

Our goal is to engage open option students in academic, personal, and professional decision making within a small group format with the support of peer mentors, group facilitators and faculty mentors.

Activities and projects in the first semester will require students to define problems and propose pathways towards solutions.  In the process they will learn about interdisciplinary careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

Success in the learning communities will consist of:

  • Creating a strong leadership team of peer mentors, group facilitators and faculty mentors.The leadership team creates lesson plans with desired outcomes for each class meeting. Meets frequently to source ideas, re-define goals, assess progress, and get feedback on effective strategies.
  • Incorporating a variety of team building activities that help students learn how to work effectively and solve problems in small and large teams.
  • Helping students become more aware of the resources and opportunities available to them at the university.
  • Participating in a service learning project, getting students actively involved and engaged.
  • Career exploration opportunities to help students start thinking about majors at the university and related careers.
  • Performing assessments to investigate the effectiveness of these activities and projects. These will inform future planning and programming.

Courses Involved

LAS 103 D, Section 1:  Save Planet Earth

LAS 103 D, Section 2:  Helping People: The Healthcare Career Spectrum

LAS 103 D, Section 3:  Seeking Solutions to the Challenges of Climate Change

LAS 103 D, Section 4:  Engaging Multidisciplinary approaches to today’s problems

Presentation/publication

News article: http://www.gdcb.iastate.edu/the-sky-is-the-limit-new-science-learning-communities-for-open-option-students/

News article: https://www.las.iastate.edu/students-tag-monarch-butterflies-to-track-migration-to-mexico/