By Raymond Pun


In February, I had the opportunity to attend the FYE conference for the first time. It was my first higher education conference where I was able to engage with many professionals in the field from student affairs to advisors, to faculty to fellow librarians. Many sessions focused on common reading programs, peer mentoring, student success assessments and high impact practices in student retention and transition.


There were many sessions I attended during the conference but here are a few sessions that stood out:

  • A session on flipped classroom: research has shown that both traditional and flipped classrooms have the similar impact on student learning. Flipped classroom requires more innovative effort from the instructors.
  • “Common Reading” programs work well when there are inputs from students. In one university, at the end of the academic year, first year students nominate common reading books for the next group of entering freshmen. The Library can also play an important role in identifying and providing access to online texts.
  • A session on “peer-mentoring” and “university 101.” Some universities such as the University of Maryland have peer mentors (sophomore) co-teach university 101 (equivalent to U1) to first year students. The student impact of peer learning is noticeable here. They are funded from various sources.

The conference offered many opportunities for my own professional development too. I was invited to give a presentation on my work with international students and library instruction and assessment. I also presented a poster on social media outreach services in China and I will be serving as a proposal reviewer for next year’s conference to be held in Atlanta.


I would encourage anyone interested in the first year experience to attend this conference. We had some great author talks including Angela Lee Duckworth (“Grit”), Azar Nafisi (“Reading Lolita in Tehran”) and Brandon Stanton (“Humans of New York”). Overall, it was a productive experience and allowed me to preview Orlando before ALA Annual 2016!


The highlight of my trip included having lunch with Ven Basco (current executive director of APALA from UCF), Ying Zhang (CALA member from UCF) and Sai Deng (CALA member from UCF), and we were able to catch up and discuss our projects and upcoming opportunities. It was really nice of them to drive out to see me in Orlando and have lunch with me!

From left to right: Ray Pun, Sai Deng, Ven Basco and Ying Zhang.
From left to right: Ray Pun, Sai Deng, Ven Basco and Ying Zhang.

Raymond Pun is the first year student success librarian in California State University, Fresno.

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