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First-Year Courses (FYC) are a special set of small limited enrollment courses or sections of courses open only to first-year students. Each First-Year Course will be a Writing-Intensive (WI), Quantitative and Symbolic Reasoning (QSR), or Speaking Intensive (SI) course.

Purpose

  • To provide an introduction to a liberal arts education
  • To support students’ transition to and immersion in college academic life
  • To develop students’ critical thinking skills by preparing them to read and communicate ideas at the collegiate level
  • To engage students around an academic discipline or topic
  • To encourage students’ close interactions and develop strong relationships among faculty and students

The focus of the proposed program is on facilitating students’ adjustment to new standards of work, including learning how to access the many resources that the College provides and encouraging students to seek out these resources and faculty assistance with learning. New college students may be hesitant to pursue these opportunities if they are viewed as remedial rather than as valuable learning resources that are integral to the curriculum and the success of all students. The courses may include first-year-only sections of courses also available to other students.

The Committee on Academic Policy reported in Spring 2017 that the FYC program has provided considerable benefit to first-year students, and that students who take these courses have a significantly higher retention rate than those who do not.

Faculty members interested in participating in the FYC program should contact their department chair. The department chair requests the FYC designation from the CAP through the usual course request process.

Program Goals & Expectations

  1. Courses are discipline-based, not generic “Introduction to College” courses.
  2. Courses introduce students to being a scholar within a discipline.
  3. Courses represent most academic divisions.

  1. Highlight the expectations for the WI, QSR, or SI components of the FYC by being explicit about learning goals, rubrics, and feedback.
  2. Incorporate an introduction to college-level academics along with strategies for success. For instance, faculty might devote time in the course to foster information literacy skills, including the ability to:
    1. construct arguments based on evidence
    2. adopt different perspectives
    3. evaluate and understand evidence supporting an argument
    4. use research tools and indicators of authority to determine the credibility of sources
    5. give credit to the original ideas of others through proper attribution and citation
  3. Raise awareness around and begin developing proficiency in skills in writing, speaking, and information literacy as identified by appropriate professional organizations. Table 1 provides a brief overview of competencies for college level writing, speaking, and information literacy skills as recommended by national organizations. These standards are general recommendations and may be adapted for Hamilton’s audience.

Recommendations for First-Year Students in Writing, Speaking and Information Literacy

Writing

Hamilton’s FYC writing objectives have been adapted from the Council of Writing Program Administrators 2014 outcomes statement for first-year composition courses. These objectives focus on skills in three areas: 

  • Critical Thinking, Reading, and Writing
  • Writing Processes
  • Knowledge of Conventions
Oral Communication

Hamilton’s FYC speaking objectives have been adapted from the 2012 the Educational Policy Board of the National Communication Association’s standards for oral communication competencies for college students.  Most relevant for Hamilton students are the basic communication skills for: 

  • Identifying Appropriate Purposes and Topics
  • Organizing Support
  • Enhancing Messages with Delivery
Information and Digital Literacy

Information literacy is defined by the Association of College & Research Libraries as “the set of integrated abilities encompassing the reflective discovery of information, the understanding of how information is produced and valued, and the use of information in creating new knowledge and participating ethically in communities of learning?.” In addition, the International Society for Technology in Education Standards “...provide a framework for learning in-depth, digital age skills and attributes with learning that is amplified, even transformed, through technology.” First-Year Information and Digital Literacy objectives focus on skills in the following areas:  

  • Inquiry
  • Evaluation
  • Attribution
  • Digital Citizenship

See Appendix 3 for a fuller description of these information and technology skills or visit http://www.ala.org/acrl/standards/ilframework? and http://www.iste.org/standards/standards/for-students-2016 

 

  1. Consider the motivations for their choice of study in the absence of the tighter pedagogical structures of high school
  2. Recognize that they are producers, and not just consumers of knowledge, and cite the contributing work of others in their own work
  3. Identify their strengths and potential, recognize their challenges and limits, and seek out resources to help them succeed (faculty, academic advisor, resource centers, & peers).
  4. Learn about support services available at the academic resource centers and the library.
  5. Learn to work collaboratively with peers.
  6. Assist students in bringing their perspective and life values into learning

  1. Serve as formal and informal academic advisors for their students. (If a faculty member’s advising load permits, some number of students enrolled in a FYC will be assigned as academic advisees.
    1. FYC faculty should provide an introduction to the advising system and the college’s educational goals.
    2. Faculty should also provide guideposts to put their disciplinary practice and course activities into the broader liberal arts context
  2. Raise meta-cognitive awareness about the work in the class
    1. In addition to practicing the discipline, faculty might lay out what makes their disciplinary perspective unique. For example, clarify how the course activities relate to the College’s educational goals and the liberal arts

  1. Implement innovative pedagogies to promote engaged learning and quality interactions. For example,
    1. Experiential learning opportunities such as field trips or service learning activities and research collaborations.
    2. Cross-course collaborations such as meetings around a common book, topic, or campus speaker.
    3. Explore with students unique or creative avenues to engage in a specific topic or discipline

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