Director: Associate Professor Peter Vantine
The writing-intensive First-Year Seminar introduces students to writing as a process, writing as a mode of learning, and academic writing forms and skills. Entry-level writing proficiency is assessed through the First-Year Seminar courses, and each seminar also partially fulfills the Written Communication requirement in the Liberal Studies Curriculum. First-Year Seminars have a cap of 15 to allow the instructor time to respond to student writing each week and meet individually with students to discuss their writing.
Through reading, writing, and discussion, First-Year Seminar courses use a wide range of topics to explore broad, interdisciplinary questions in the liberal arts and sciences. The small class size also encourages students to work cooperatively, creating a community of learners. By emphasizing engaged participation, the seminars help students learn how to take responsibility for their own education.
- First-Year Seminars focus on various topics, but they are all similar in their emphasis on discussion and their extensive use of writing.
- Topics encourage examination of large questions, have an interdisciplinary dimension, and provoke reflection on diversity.
- Courses require frequent writing, at least twice a week. This includes:
- Various kinds of informal writing designed to encourage active reading and discussion (e.g., freewriting, journals, reading questions or summaries, commentaries, annotations, question-and-response).
- Preparatory stages of writing for formal papers (e.g., topic-generating exercises, reading notes, proposals, outlines, drafts).
- Formal papers: a minimum of 3, totaling 10-20 pages. Formal papers must include at least one analytical/persuasive essay, but may also include other prose forms.
- Courses provide clear, written criteria for assessment and discussion of writing and must make use of texts and student models demonstrating those criteria.
- Courses include weekly opportunities for feedback on writing, from peers and the instructor (e.g., written comments, small-group discussions, workshops, individual conferences).
- Courses include revisions involving feedback.
- Courses introduce research skills and citation forms, in collaboration with Library staff.
- Courses address academic integrity, plagiarism, and the College’s polices in this regard.
First Year Seminar Learning Outcomes:
Students will demonstrate:
- The ability to engage in active learning at the college level.
- The ability to use writing as a tool for reflection, learning and the effective expression of one’s ideas. This includes:
- An understanding of what makes effective writing for a general academic audience.
- The ability to manage the writing process (prewriting, drafting, feedback, revision, editing, and proofreading) to produce finished products.
- The ability to generate a thesis on their own and support it with convincing evidence and reasoning in a formal academic essay that has cohesion, coherence, and voice.
- The ability to use feedback to revise, as well as to give others constructive feedback on their writing.
- The ability to apply basic research skills, including the ability to integrate and cite sources.
- An understanding of academic integrity