To assist those students who are still undeclared regarding a major at the end of their first semester of enrollment at UT Martin, a Peer Academic Coach (PAC) will be assigned to these students. These PACs will extend the institutional support from the FYI into the second semester of enrollment for these undeclared Freshmen (e.g., accessing online and vis-a-vis tutorials, exploring degree/major options, etc.). The interactions between the PACs and their assigned students will be intentional and highly prescriptive and closely supervised by the advisors assigned to these students through the SSC. This extension of the FYI will challenge the undeclared students to assume responsibility for their academic success.
To exploit the power of peer interaction on student self-efficacy, UT Martin will integrate Student Leadership Challenge, a well-established, well-researched program, into the current Student Orientation Leader training. The Student Leadership Challenge “is about leadership that creates the climate in which challenging opportunities are transformed into remarkable successes” (Kouzes & Posner, 2008, p. 1). PACs will benefit from additional leadership training. According to Kouzes & Posner (2008), “student leaders exhibit an identifiable set of practices, which vary little from campus to campus … There are shared patterns to the practice of leadership. And these practices can be learned” (p. 4). Through this leadership development, UT Martin will strengthen the influence of both the Student Orientation Leaders of the current FYI and the proposed PACs on freshmen students at UT Martin.