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FAQ’s - Teaching FY Courses

Teaching your first-year course

1.

What kind of students can I expect?

  • Traditional first-year students today are part of the millennial generation.  Confident and optimistic, they tend to respect authority and appreciate educational success. They also tend to be technologically savvy, socially oriented, and interested in community service.
  • At WCU, a relatively large percentage of our student body (approximately 13%) are first-generation college students. Most graduated from a high school in North Carolina and headed straight to Cullowhee.          

2.

What is the difference between a first-year seminars and a Transition course?

  • The first-year seminar is a three credit hour course with content drawn from a particular instructor‘s expertise. It is designed to serve as a gateway to other content-based courses as students progress through their undergraduate studies.
  • Transitions courses, offered for one or two credit hours, are designed to introduce students to the academic, procedural, and social elements of their new community, to maximize opportunities for a successful transition to college. 
  • WCU offers four types of Transition courses: 
    USI 130 – the University Experience
    USI 101 – Honors 
    LEAD 143 – Western PEAKS, a living learning community
    COUN 140 – Study skills
  • Although highly encouraged, not all students take a transition course, while the first-year seminar is a requirement for completion of the Liberal Studies Program.

 

First-year Seminars (FYS)

Transitions Courses

3.

What is a first-year seminar (FYS)?

  • First-year seminars are core courses in the liberal studies program that are taught in a variety of disciplines. As the name suggests, these courses are designed specifically for first-year students. 
  • First-year seminars are smaller than most classes, with the enrollment capped at 30, and are always numbered 190-199, e.g., THEA 191.
  • The primary goal of the first year seminar is to introduce students to intellectual life at the university level. The first-year seminar's focus is the development of academic rigor and intellectual dispositions.
  • The use of a common text or theme provides students with an opportunity to see faculty modeling intellectual learning habits by considering a topic that might be outside of the faculty member‘s area of specialization.

What is a first-year transition course?

  • Transition courses are designed to introduce students to the academic, procedural, and social elements of their new community, to maximize opportunities for a successful transition to college.  Transition courses vary in focus within five different categories.  However, they all share the Core Elements as the central learning outcomes. Some courses are thematic-based, others project-based, and some are connected to residential components to form a living-learning community.  Transition courses are not discipline specific, but may integrate elements of degree paths such as Leadership, within their overall curricular design. 
  • Transition courses are smaller than most classes, with the enrollment capped at 22-25, and are always numbered as above.
  • The use of a common text or theme provides students with an opportunity to see instructors modeling intellectual learning and collaborative practice.
  • Transition courses are 1-hour credit courses, except for LEAD140 and 143, which are 2-hour credit courses to allow for additional focus on leadership topics.

4.

What are the University guidelines for  FYS?

  • The first-year seminar objectives are to: 
    o Teach students the importance of liberal studies in a university education.
    o Discuss how reasoning & communication skills are the foundation for life-long intellectual and professional growth.
    o Demonstrate that cultural, social, economic, and political issues of a global society are not limited to one academic discipline or profession.
    o Discuss serious ideas and develop rigorous intellectual habits.
  • The liberal studies program has its own learning goals (for more information: liberalstudies.wcu.edu).

What are the University guidelines for a first-year transition Course?

  • Although Transition courses vary in focus and instructional approach, all share the Core Elements as the primary learning outcomes.  These elements are integrated in all courses.

5.

What is the grading schema for a FYS?

  • Grading schema for all first-year seminars: 
    A, B, C, I (incomplete), W (withdrawal) or U (unsatisfactory). 
  • Students who receive a ‘U’ do not need to make up the 3 unearned FYS credits.  However, they must still earn sufficient credit hours for their degree program.

What is the grading schema for a transition course?

  • Grading for all first year transitions courses follows the standard scale: 
    A, B, C, D, F with a +/- scale or I (incomplete) or W (withdrawal). 

6.

Who is required to take a first-year seminar?

  • Students with 0-15 credit hours are required to take this course;
  • Students with 15.1-29.9 credit hours are eligible to enroll, but it is not required;
  • Students with 30 or more credit hours are not eligible to take a first-year seminar.
  • Transfer students with greater than 15 credit hours are not required to take the seminar. 
  • When a student is not required or eligible to take the first-year seminar, it is considered waived, and the liberal studies hour requirement will be reduced from 42 to 39 (total hours for the degree are not reduced). The first-year seminar cannot be repeated and, therefore, it is not possible to replace a grade received in this course.

Who takes a first-year transition course?

  • Most incoming freshmen are enrolled in a transition experience, based on student selections in Catwalk, the on-line orientation.

7.

How do students select their seminars?

  • In most cases, incoming students prioritize three seminars from a list of topics distributed in Catwalk, our online orientation. They rank their top three seminars in order of preference, and they, with assistance from their advisor, register for one of their preferred selections.
  • The FYE web-site offers rich descriptions, provided by the faculty members for each seminar offered.

How do students select their courses?

  • Incoming students select from a list of sections described in Catwalk, our online orientation. With assistance from their advisor, they register for the section that matches their academic needs and area of interest.
  • The FYE Web-site offers rich descriptions and links to each focus, provided by the Transition coordinators for each category.  http://www.wcu.edu/25698.asp

 

8.

When are first-year seminars offered?

  • The FYS may be taken in the fall or spring of the students’ first year.  In an effort to balance faculty loads, students now register for either a FYS or English 101 during their first semester, with the reverse during their second semester.
  • FY Seminars are offered a variety of times, as best fits departmental schedules.

When are first-year transition courses offered?

  • The first-year transition course may be taken in the fall or spring of the students’ first year, although most are taught in the fall.  Transition courses are offered at a variety of times, as best fits instructional schedules.

9.

Why teach a FY Seminar and why is the first-year seminars important?

  • Your course will impart habits that encourage students to be life-long learners.
  • Your course will establish the foundation for your students to succeed and to excel.
  • You will impact a life and as such, the very future of the global community.

Why teach a first-year transition course and why is it important?

  • Your course will impart habits and skills that foster academic success.
  • Your course will introduce the social and co-curricular connections that enrich learning.
  • Your course will help students adjust to a college environment and resources available.
  • You will impact a life and as such, the very future of the global community.

 

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