Washburn Women's Venture Partners: Proposal for Grant Funding: the iRead Common Reading Program
The iRead common reading program at Washburn University was developed to enhance the educational experience of the students and the greater Washburn/Topeka community.
• Common reading programs merge the curricular and cocurricular components of college and reinforce the message that learning occurs both inside and outside the classroom.*
• Such programs help students understand that reading, critical thinking, discussion, and other activities are expected in college and contribute to learning.*
• Reading can promote more meaningful learning. According to results from the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE, 2004), students who spend more time reading outside class score higher on the deeper-learning scale.*
• It encourages interdisciplinary connections.
• It creates "environments and experiences that bring students to discover and construct knowledge for themselves, and helps make students members of communities of learners that make discoveries and solve problems," according to researchers Barr and Tagg (1995).*
The program began in 2007 and was primarily funded by the Center for Undergraduate Studies and Programs (CUSP), the Washburn Student Government Association (WSGA), and the Office of the Vice President for Academic Affairs (VPAA). A campus-wide committee formed, selected a book, marketed it across campus and especially to the freshman students and instructors, and celebrated the culmination of the project by bringing in the author for a speaking engagement. In 2008 we were able to bring in some additional donors with the help of the Washburn Endowment Association. Then the economy fell into recession, and all departments on campus were asked to give back sizeable portions of their budgets to the general operating fund. Since that time, those funds were not replaced and further budget cuts were made. In short, much of the money for the program was gone. A book was selected for 2009 and used in some courses, but we were unable to bring the author in for a speaking engagement (the primary cost of the program). Each of the previous years cost approximately $15,000. The small amount of funding still available for the program was just not adequate to provide for bringing in the author.
• Develop a cohesiveness between students (especially the entering freshman class). No matter what classes they are taking or various activities in which they participate, they will...