University Senate Committee on General Education

FIRST YEAR EXPERIENCE PROGRAM

Information for Faculty

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Rationale
The Integrated First Year Experience program is based on the concept of First Year Seminars, both as they have been implemented on this campus (PSY120) and how they are implemented at other institutions. First Year Seminars are generally defined as “discussion-based courses {with}… a strong emphasis on creating community within the classroom” . Literature indicates they can be very effective in fostering a sense of belonging, and in encouraging critical inquiry.

Description
Regularly taught 100-level general education courses throughout the curriculum become First Year Experience (“FYE” or “FY”) courses, much like the current “W” courses. Faculty propose to teach these courses on a section-by-section basis and students would be required to take at least three (3) of these courses within the first 30 credits. Ideally taught by full-time faculty, the sections would enroll first year students only and be capped at 22 students per section. Additionally, the sections would include some elements from two categories – Academics Skills and Methods, and University Success Factors (see below).

Anticipated benefits of the FYE Program*

  • Students better manage the transition from high school to college.
  • Students develop an excitement and enthusiasm for learning.
  • Students develop effective study skills.
  • Students see the relationship between what they learn in the classroom and the world beyond the university.
  • Students appreciate that learning extends beyond the classroom and is a lifelong process.
  • Students gain a heightened appreciation for the relationship among various academic disciplines, and an understanding of how knowledge in one discipline can inform our view of other disciplines.
  • Students become more successful in their first year, making them more likely to persist to degree completion.
  • Students and faculty have the opportunity to interact in at least one small-section class each semester of the first year, to facilitate the sorts of relationships and learning activities not often possible in large, introductory classes.
  • Students are socialized into a community of scholars who prize active learning, community engagement and immersion into the world of ideas.

*Borrowed from the First Year Experience web site at Western Illinois University

Academic Skills and Methods
Academic skills and methods are those course-related elements which have been identified as contributing significantly to the development of an Educated Person . An FYE course must contain a minimum of three (3) of these elements. They are:

    a. Critical thinking
    b. Writing
    c. Information literacy
    d. Primary research
    e. Oral communication
    f. Ethics

University Success Factors
Defined as the course elements that will contribute not only to the development of an Educated Person, but also to the development of creative, well-rounded students who are connected to the university community and become responsible, concerned, productive global citizens. Each FYE section must contain a minimum of two (2) of these elements. These are:

    a. Co-curricular involvement
    b. Support services
    c. Organizational skills
    d. Technology skills
    e. Working in groups
 

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