Appreciative College Instruction & The First Year: Creating A Culture Of Empowerment To Help Our Students Succeed


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Appreciative College Instruction & The First Year: Creating A Culture Of Empowerment To Help Our Students Succeed


Appreciative College Instruction (ACI) involves creating a positive classroom culture that empowers students and teachers to build on their strengths and experiences, realize their full potentials, and meet specific learning outcomes. Based on the theory of Appreciative Inquiry, ACI is the practical application of six phases - Disarm, Discover, Dream, Design, Deliver, and Don’t Settle - providing a positive framework for college level courses. This session will demonstrate how ACI can be used in student success courses such as first-year seminar courses, specifically highlighting how ACI has been used to teach a University 101 Academic Recovery course.

The webinar will include:

  • An overview and definition of Appreciative College Instruction
  • The theoretical infrastructure of the six phases of ACI
  • Practical application of ACI in first-year seminar courses
  • Suggested assignments, resources, and active learning strategies
  • An overview of data and lesson learned

By presenting an overview of ACI, attendees will be able to understand the framework and mindset of teaching first-year courses using a positive, appreciative approach.

The first section of the presentation will emphasize how ACI is defined and rooted in theory. An overview of the six phases will be provided along with specific examples of what instructors can do to implement this instructional approach. For example, the Disarm phase will be discussed both as theory and practice. Instructors will consider why disarming students is crucial to success of the course, how instructors may be perceived by students, and what particular things instructors can do to disarm their class.

The second section will highlight a particular University 101 Academic Recovery course taught by both of the presenters. This course enrolled 19 students who were placed on academic probation and who mostly all failed University 101 the previous fall. Specific course assignments, exams, papers, videos, in-class activities, and active learning strategies will be shared. Student quotes will be used throughout this presentation revealing the impact of these teaching strategies.

Finally, the instructors will share an overview of data collected and recommendations for future implementation. Attendees will leave the session understanding both theory and practice of ACI and specific tools they can use for application in their first-year seminar courses.


  • Understand the theoretical infrastructure behind Appreciative College Instruction
  • Understand and apply the six phases of Appreciative College Instruction: Disarm, Discover, Dream, Design, Deliver, and Don’t Settle
  • Learn specific ways of incorporating hands-on practical exercises based on the six phases into their student success courses
  • Learn how to use verbal and non-verbal immediacy behaviors that can put students at ease
  • Explore potential adaptations of the model in participants’ specific working environment

Who Should Attend?

  • Academic advisors
  • Advising administrators
  • Retention coordinators
  • Student affairs leaders
  • Student Affairs professionals
  • University 101 instructors
  • University 101 coordinators
  • Vice-Presidents of Student Affairs