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About the Program

KU’s First-Year Seminar program was developed in 2012 as part of a set of strategies to enhance student learning and strengthen the undergraduate experience for KU students.  First-Year Seminars contribute to student success by connecting new students to outstanding faculty, promoting academic skill development that extends to a range of KU courses, and fostering early connections to experiential learning.

First-Year Seminars are discussion-based courses limited to 19 students each. These 3-credit hour seminars are organized around stimulating questions and topics that introduce students to the practice of critical thinking and inquiry within the faculty member’s discipline.  Students develop their critical thinking and communication skills through sequenced assignments that culminate in an integrative assignment used to measure the following 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.

Faculty Involvement:

Faculty teach First-Year Seminars as part of their regular teaching responsibilities. The Office of First-Year Experience has a limited amount of instructional funds to provide departments where teaching capacity issues might otherwise prevent a faculty member from teaching a First-Year Seminar. To request instructional funds, please complete the funding portion of the chair endorsement form.

Faculty who are new to the First-Year Seminar program participate in a series of workshops (two in the spring and one in August) 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 workshop series.


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