Strong Start Initiative

How can we ensure that students begin their GVSU career with a strong start? This initiative focuses faculty attention on best practices for engaging students in first-year and second-year undergraduate courses. If you are interested in learning more about the initiative or would like to strengthen your courses to best engage incoming students, do not hesitate to contact us. 

May 2024 Strong Start Teaching Institute

Registration Closed for 2024

Monday, May 6, 2024

127 Cook-DeVos Center for Health Sciences (CHS)
Health Campus Grand Rapids

How can we ensure that students begin their GV career with a strong start? The strong start Teaching institute focuses faculty attention on best practices for engaging students in first year undergraduate courses. Together, we will explore resources and examples around four themes:

  • Clarity of academic expectations.
  • Fostering a sense of belonging (at GV and in our classrooms)
  • Familiarity with available student resources.
  • Active learning strategies that promote student engagement, motivation, and achievement.

Whether you are teaching a course for the first time or are looking to strengthen a course to beat engage students, we invite you to participate. The in-person and asynchronous components of this Institute will apply to a range of instructor experience levels and disciplines. Preference given to adjunct, affiliate and visiting faculty.


What is involved?

The institute begins with a modest amount of pre-work, including an interactive learning module and several short readings (~2hr commitment). The in-seat time will be spent in large-group discussions and small-group exercises, modeling learning activities to apply to your classrooms. Following the session, participants will have the opportunity for a follow-up individual consultation to review syllabi, course materials, and/or Blackboard sites. 

Participants are eligible for a $500 stipend upon completion of the full program and another $500 for completion of the post-Institute course materials review consultation. Participants will also earn a digital badge. 

Who can participate?

The Institute is intended primarily for instructors teaching courses with high first-year student enrollment. Preference will be given to non-tenure-track instructors: affiliates, visitors, adjuncts, and those new or relatively new to university teaching.

The Institute is limited to 40 participants. 

How do I apply?

Registration is closed for the Strong Start Teaching Institute for May 2024. If you have any questions, please contact the Pew FTLC at [email protected].



Are there additional opportunities to learn?

Yes! The Strong Start Institute will be offered again in August 2024. Semester-long Strong Start Initiative faculty learning communities are also being planned as well as monthly drop-in lunch conversations on topics related to first-year (and beyond) student success. 

What if I have questions?

Please do note hesitate to contact Christine Rener, Pew FTLC Director ([email protected]; 616-331-3499) 


GVSU Resources

  • Tips for Teaching First Year Students at GVSU - a document prepared as part of the Strong Start Initiative
  • My Laker Success - a website that was developed as part of the Student Success Network that helps students navigate their first year in college – encourage your students to bookmark this page

General Resources

Page last modified April 29, 2024