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About the Program

Connection to Bold Aspirations

The development of a first-year seminar program is part of a set of recommendations in Bold Aspirations, KU’s strategic plan, to invest in first-year intellectual experiences to strengthen the undergraduate experience for KU students.
Goal 1: Strengthen recruitment, teaching, and mentoring to prepare undergraduate students for lifelong learning, leadership, and success.
Strategy 1-C: Invest in first-year intellectual experiences
Preparing KU graduates for success in the 21st century requires a transformation of the undergraduate experience for students and faculty. An essential part of this transformation is the development of high-quality first-year experiences that promote early and frequent student engagement in the intellectual life of the university and lead students to opportunities for experiential learning in the second year and beyond.

Seminar Format and Requirements

First-Year Seminars are discussion-based courses limited to 19 students each. These 3-credit hour seminars are organized around stimulating and innovative content areas and are designed to satisfy the critical thinking learning outcome for the KU Core. The seminars are also designed to improve student writing through sequenced writing assignments that culminate in an integrative assignment used to measure student critical thinking. Faculty teach First-Year Seminars as part of their regular teaching responsibilities.

Program Learning Outcomes:

Critical thinking. Students will be able to analyze and evaluate assumptions, claims, evidence, arguments, and forms of expression; select and apply interpretive tools.
Information literacy. Students will demonstrate information literacy skills by identifying the credibility and authority of various information sources; students will recognize libraries and librarians as valuable resources in this process.
Communication. Students will be able to more effectively develop and articulate critical analysis and application through writing, media, and/or oral communication.
Experiential learning. Students will become aware of experiential learning opportunities and ways to extend their learning outside of the classroom.

Course Development Workshops:

Faculty who are new to the First-Year Seminar program participate in a 3-part workshop series in the semester prior to teaching their seminar. These workshops familiarize faculty with the FYS program, best practices for teaching first-year students, and provide opportunities to work on course and assignment design. Faculty receive a $500 overload payment for participating in the workshops.

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