All First-Year Seminars have the same five common goals:
- expand and deepen students' understanding of the world and of themselves
- enhance their ability to read and think critically
- enhance their ability to communicate effectively, in writing, speech, and other appropriate forms
- develop the fundamentals of information literacy and library research
- provide the opportunity for students to work closely with a faculty mentor
Read & think critically
Students should improve their skills in evaluation, interpretation and analysis of texts and other forms of expression. Types of works that might be appropriate include, but are not limited to: movies, structures, paintings, theatrical performances, essays, journal articles, and books. When possible, the readings should come from primary sources. Readings should not come from disciplinary textbooks except in cases where students need to use this type of material for essential background information that might aid in their understanding of concepts related to the primary materials assigned.
The term "writing intensive" is common in the field of rhetoric and composition, but the FYS Committee takes it to mean not simply assigning lots of writing but paying attention to the process through which writers generate ideas, shape them in words, and revise them in response to others. This process should be done in a way that provides students practice and also guidance in and outside of the classroom. All students will benefit from a developmental approach to writing in which assignments are relatively simple initially, but gradually become more intellectually challenging over the course of the semester. In addition, students will benefit from frequent feedback from faculty as well as trained student Writing Consultants (formerly known as Writing Fellows) who will be assigned to each first-year seminar to assist faculty in reviewing and responding to drafts. All faculty will participate in a summer institute focused in part on developmental writing pedagogy before teaching the seminar.
In order to create an approximate parity in the writing requirements for first-year seminars, all seminars should include 5000 words (approximately 20 double-spaced pages) of academic writing.
Spoken communication is essential to student success. All seminars will include frequent class discussion and, where appropriate, oral presentations. As with writing, students will benefit from a process through which discussion guidelines are shared and students have frequent opportunity to practice and to develop their communication skills both within and outside the classroom. Students will benefit from frequent feedback from faculty as well as trained student Speech Consultants, who will be available to work with specific seminars, as requested by the faculty.
In other appropriate forms
Each seminar will have its own focus and its own appropriate forms of communication. These may include students composing their own music; creating sculpture, paintings or drawings; designing theatrical sets; choreographing or performing dances; making videos; designing webpages, etc. When these forms are central to the course, faculty members will include guidance and standards for evaluation in their seminar development.
"Information literacy forms the basis for lifelong learning. It is common to all disciplines, to all learning environments, and to all levels of education. It enables learners to master content and extend their investigations, become more self-directed, and assume greater control over their own learning. Students should be able to:
- Determine the extent of information needed
- Access the needed information effectively and efficiently
- Evaluate information and its sources critically
- Incorporate selected information into one's knowledge base
- Use information effectively to accomplish a specific purpose
- Understand the economic, legal, and social issues surrounding the use of information, and access and use information ethically and legally"
(Information Literacy Standards for Higher Education developed by the ACRL (Association of College & Research Libraries))
To that end:
- All students will attend an information literacy lab session as part of their FYS which will incorporate the objectives covered currently in LIB 100 and 101. There will be an assignment from each FYS tied to these labs, based on the agreed-upon outcomes (library liaisons will work with faculty to facilitate using a common assignment framework, with customization based on the seminar topic).
- All FYS will incorporate at least one session of information literacy/library research in their seminars - building on the information covered in #1, and tied specifically to the subject matter of the course.
- All FYS will incorporate at least one assignment requiring library research.
Adopted by the University Faculty on September 24, 2009