The General Education Taskforce (GETF) and the General Education Council (GEC) members agreed that a first-year seminar (FYS) course will provide an intimate educational experience, integrating knowledge and skills within an academic discipline and connecting students to UCA. Further, students would be introduced to the intended outcomes of the UCA Core, and the expectations of their performance as they progress through the university. A variety of courses could be used for the first-year seminar. Any course proposed as a first-year seminar must address the goals and outcomes of the appropriate academic area in the lower-division core (e.g. Sciences, Social Sciences, Humanities, Responsible Living, etc.)
FYS courses are specially designed and address Communications outcomes, including written communication and collaboration, and either the Critical Inquiry, Diversity, or Responsible Living outcomes. Faculty members are chosen by their department chairs on the basis of teaching effectiveness and willingness to adapt their course and approach to fit the FYS guidelines (listed below). Since allowing an FYS to count in place of a lower-division communication course would run counter to the GETF’s recommendation that we increase student requirements in communication, an FYS could be offered in any area used to fulfill one of the lower- division Core requirements except communication requirements.
Required content of the FYS includes the following:
- Written discourse, which will be assessed using the writing rubric Communication Rubric B (Written)
- Collaboration, which will be assessed using the collaboration rubric Communication Rubric C (Collaboration)
- An orientation to the UCA Core mission, purpose, and general learning outcomes, which will be integrated into the course and assessed (The assessment rubric title is FYS Rubric – Knowledge of the Core)
- A focus on the basic principles of the discipline, which will allow the course to fulfill one of the lower-division Core requirements other than communications.
Assessments in these areas will be required for a course section to receive the FYS designation. Obviously, not all sections of a particular course will be offered as an FYS. Only sections which meet the specific requirements would be included in this category.
Additional considerations for first-year seminars include the following:
- Class size must be small (25 students or fewer);
- Faculty must be selected by the department chair and have demonstrated an aptitude for high impact teaching;
- FYS faculty will agree to participate in more thorough assessment and additional development as it is made available (e.g. in teaching writing skills, developing collaborative assignments, etc.)
While the recommendation would be that FYS be taken in a student’s first semester, it is expected that some students will need to take it the second semester. Transfer students with more than 30 hours of transfer credit would not be required to take an FYS.