First-Year Seminar, Guidelines for Faculty

Guidelines for Faculty

  1. First-year Seminars focus in depth on a question or topic in a disciplinary or interdisciplinary context. By means of its specific focus, the seminar explores the thinking, research, and writing practices in a particular field and the ways in which ideas are communicated across fields or to wider audiences.
  2. Each seminar uses a sequence of readings to develop the intellectual focus of the seminar and provide material for discussion. The readings should challenge students without making excessive demands on their time in preparing for class. The readings should:
    • demonstrate the genres and conventions of writing in the field of study
    • offer models of clarity, rigor, and style
    • afford opportunities and cues for further investigation on the seminar topic
  3. Each seminar provides instructional support for research by asking students to engage in some form of structured investigation beyond the common sequence of readings, often in collaboration with reference librarians. Research may involve:
    • opportunities to find and evaluate primary and/or secondary sources
    • opportunities to engage with scholarly arguments in the field of study
    • instruction in the forms of appropriate citation, including a review of Sources
  4. Each seminar provides instructional support for writing, using an array of different writing assignments typically including at least three formal assignments totaling about 6000 words. Students should write regularly, though not all writing need be graded. The 6000 words may include drafts that students submit for comment. Writing instruction in the seminar should include
    • discussion of writing in class workshops, small groups and/or individual conferences with the instructor
    • attention to and opportunities for revision
    • attention to conventions of grammar, spelling, and punctuation
  5. Each seminar provides structured occasions for students to take an active part in shaping discussion. These may involve
    • the assigned responsibility to initiate and facilitate discussion on a particular reading
    • individual or small group oral presentations or debates
    • the use of interactive or presentational technology

Administrative Guidelines

  1. Enrollment in First-year Seminars is restricted to first-year students and limited to 16 students per seminar. First-year Seminars are closed to non-first-year students. First-year students are permitted to enroll in a second seminar within the limit of sixteen per group after all students who have not yet met the requirement have had a chance to elect one.
  2. First-year students must take a First-year Seminar in the term following their Writing 5 (or Writing 2-3), i.e.:
    • First-year Students enrolled in Writing 5 fall term must elect a winter seminar.
    • All Writing 2-3 students and those enrolled in Writing 5 winter term must take a spring seminar.
  3. An instructor shall be free to schedule a seminar in any regular timetable hour.
  4. A First-year Seminar may serve in satisfaction of specific General Education requirements (Distributive and World Culture), provided that the individual seminar has been approved for this purpose, and for the specific year and term, by the Committee on Instruction.
  5. Students are not eligible to participate in Off-Campus Programs until they have satisfied the First-year Seminar requirement.
  6. First-year Seminars cannot serve for major credit or as a prerequisite to the major.

Resources for use in preparing syllabi for First-year Seminars:

Scroll to the top of this page for a list of basic guidelines for faculty for First-year Seminars.

First-year Seminar Outcomes

Checklist for First-year Seminar Syllabi

DCAL Syllabus Template available on the DCAL website

Contacts

For questions concerning the seminar's goals, and for discussion of the methods you might employ to meet these goals, contact Christiane Donahue, Director of the Institute for Writing and Rhetoric.

To arrange library instruction, contact the Subject Specialist for your discipline.

Also, Writing Assistants are available to enhance your students' writing and revising processes. Tutors are available to students who require one-on-one help with writing. Students should also be made aware of the on-line materials on the Institute for Writing and Rhetoric's web site. We encourage all instructors to take advantage of these services.

To request a Writing Assistant, please contact Nick Van Kley, Director of Student Support Services.