The First-Year Seminar cannot be double-counted with other requirements. First-Year Writing Seminar and Second-Year Seminar can also count toward an elective in a major/minor and/or as meeting an Explorations requirement.
First-Year Seminar: Diving In
(Block 1 and Student Success Component in Blocks 1-3)
All students with less than 7 credits will enroll in a First-Year Seminar. Credits granted to students from examinations cannot be counted towards the total credits needed to exempt a student from a First-Year Seminar.
This First-Year Seminar (FYS), which has a common syllabus across sections, encourages creative and critical thinking about works from a variety of disciplines and provides students with a shared foundation for their educational experience at Cornell College. This course will focus on cultivating providing opportunities for growth alongside the support to achieve this growth.
The student success component extends our focus on students’ transition to college, emphasizing personal well-being, social connectedness, and academic preparedness across 3 blocks.
View the 2019 FYS schedule to get a feel for the pace.
- Students will encounter works from a variety of academic disciplines and will practice critical reading and thinking skills. (Knowledge, Inquiry)
- Students will be introduced to key terms and concepts central to the essential abilities of writing, intercultural literacy, and quantitative reasoning, and to disciplinary/interdisciplinary explorations. (Knowledge)
- Students will distinguish between opinion, reasoned judgment, and evidence to evaluate arguments and ideas. (Inquiry, Reasoning)
- Students will be introduced to the importance of academic honesty and integrity. (Ethical Behavior, Inquiry)
- Students will practice writing and revision to develop and communicate ideas. (Communication)
- Students will practice oral communication by effectively preparing for and engaging in civil academic discussions. (Communication, Citizenship)
- Students will become familiar with and use the academic, career, and co-curricular support services available on campus, including the Center for Teaching and Learning. (Vocation, Well Being)
- Students will develop strategies for effective time management. (Well Being)
- Students will be introduced to key terms and concepts central to civil discourse and intercultural literacy. (Communication, Intercultural Literacy)
Student Success component
Block 1 focuses on time management with an emphasis on helping students manage their academic responsibilities, campus involvement, and personal well-being. Block 2 emphasizes civil discourse and intercultural literacy. Block 3 focuses on academic planning and future opportunities.
The First Year Experience committee will continue to oversee the development of the first-year experience program (including the FYS) and will support program development, faculty development, and assessment.
Intended as a common course for all entering students, with a common syllabus and shared assignments, this FYS will require regular review and revision of materials, assignments, and stated learning outcomes. As designed, the course is intended to change incrementally from year to year, normally at a rate no greater than one change in significant course materials per year, so that, over a four year period, no more than half of the course content will vary. This enables us to maintain a large degree of continuity across classes over time, enabling dialogue between different cohorts of students and faculty with a largely unaltered set of common texts, and establishing mentor/mentee relationships between faculty members as they rotate through FYS teaching responsibilities.
To sustain the course, we propose that, starting with the course as offered in 2019-20, we begin an annual cycle of revision. In the fall of each academic year, each division of the college, as a part of its regular work, will be asked to submit recommendations of two “works” to replace a work in the most recent iteration of the course. “Works” might include books or other readings, objects of art, music, theater, or dance, or equations, experiments… Recommendations should include a rationale (how would they contribute to the course?), suggestions about types of assignments that might be valuable, and candidates for leading summer workshops on the material. A review committee consisting of the First Year Experience Committee supplemented by three additional members of the faculty with experience teaching the FYS will consider those recommendations for inclusion in the following fall’s version of the course. That committee may choose either to use one of the recommended works, or request additional recommendations, or choose to sit pat. Recommendations not used will be set aside for future consideration. The review committee will submit its decisions about revisions to the whole faculty for further review before settling on its final decision about course material.
The review committee will arrange for faculty to lead summer workshops on course materials. It will also consider and revise as appropriate common assignments and other course content, and examine grading practices across sections to ensure consistency. In addition, the committee should regularly assess learning outcomes and adjust these based on course evaluations, instructor feedback, and programmatic changes. The review committee will also consider opportunities for large scale campus events (lectures, performances) involving all FYS sections
- The educational goals of the course and their fit with other materials.
- Maintaining balance across divisions by regular rotation of course materials. interdisciplinary significance.
- Representativeness of linguistic, geographic, and temporal diversity.
- Appropriateness for first year students.
- Potential for provoking class discussion and reflection.
- Length (shorter is better).
- Suggestiveness of assignments that test and develop academic skills.
First-Year Writing Seminar—1 Credit
Topically based courses, with some common elements, taken in a student’s first year, and focused on the further development of academic writing skills. Through both informal and formal writing, students will focus on the process of writing, explore writing techniques and strategies, reflect on their work, and use the revision process to develop and communicate their ideas more effectively. Students are only allowed to earn credit for one first-year writing seminar.
- Students will experience guided practice in critical reading. (Inquiry, Reasoning)
- Students will understand writing as a process that involves multiple stages. (Communication)
- Students will write appropriately for a given audience, purpose, and context. (Communication, Intercultural Literacy)
- Students will gain practice in developing and sustaining an argument with evidence. (Inquiry, Reasoning, Communication)
- Students will evaluate, cite, and document sources appropriately. (Inquiry, Reasoning, Ethical Behavior)
- Students will learn to incorporate feedback and revision. (Communication)
- Assign formal and/or informal writing so that students are writing regularly throughout the course. Informal writing assignments (e.g., journals, blog posts, reading responses) are low-stakes, often non-graded assignments, that assist students in exploring and understanding course material. Formal writing assignments are high-stakes assignments that students use to develop their own arguments or ideas about course material.
- Longer assignments should be staged, allowing for faculty feedback throughout the process.
- Devote class time to the writing process (which includes prewriting, drafting, revising, and editing). Writing instruction should focus on discussing assignments and rubrics, writing techniques and strategies, approaches to particular types of papers or writing problems, and students’ work-in-progress. Assign writing so that students are writing regularly throughout the course.
- Provide timely feedback, both in writing and in person, through individual or small-group writing conferences.
- Require students to employ feedback in a subsequent draft, paper, or assignment and to reflect on their work, process, and goals.
- Intentionally discuss metacognition in class and provide students with tools for effective reflection that will help them with transfer in future classes.
- Utilize a common vocabulary in class.
- Common writing instructional text
- Required: "They Say, I Say" (Graff & Birkenstein).
- Required: The Transition to College Writing (Hjortshoj) Purchased for both FYS and FYW).
- Common assignments—Throughout the block, students should:
- Write in at least 2 or 3 different genres (Examples: essays, podcasts, posters, storyboards, lab reports, etc.).
- Write for at least 2 or 3 different audiences.
- Write at least two major (4+ pages) evidence-based argument papers.
- Revise their major writing assignments.
- Write regular reading responses (low-stakes).
- Reflect on their writing process and progress throughout the block.
Proposals for new courses that will be designated as FYW will be reviewed by both the Academic Programs Committee and the First Year Experience Committee. Existing courses that will be designated as FYW only need to be reviewed by the FYE Committee. The role of the FYE Committee is to work with faculty to ensure that courses meet the expectations and address the learning outcomes.
Second-Year Seminar: Citizenship in Practice (Block 1)
All students with less than 14 credits will enroll in a second-year seminar. Credits granted to students from examinations cannot be counted towards the total credits needed to exempt a student from a Second Year Seminar.
Topically based courses encouraging citizenship in practice by focusing on informed, creative problem-solving of real-world issues through disciplinary or multidisciplinary approaches. These courses may include community engagement and/or hands-on experiences such as field trips, off-campus study, service learning, simulations, performances, installations, exhibits, or lab work. SYS courses do not have prerequisites.
- Students will acquire knowledge of a contemporary or historical issue, or set of issues, facing communities, regions, nations, or the world. (Knowledge, Citizenship)
- Students will understand the context of the issues or questions that could include time, geography, culture, impact on communities, etc. (Knowledge)
- Students will use creative and critical thinking skills to identify, propose, and evaluate strategies for addressing issues/questions. (Inquiry, Reasoning)
- Students will develop skills for collaboration with and within diverse groups of individuals including the cognitive skill of perspective-taking.. (Communication, Intercultural literacy, Citizenship)
- Students will develop research and information literacy skills. (Inquiry, Reasoning)
- Students will demonstrate communication skills through the oral presentation of their findings. (Communication)
The SYS creates an experience in the second year that builds on the first year and provides a basis for advanced disciplinary, interdisciplinary, and experiential learning. It introduces students to issues beyond the college classroom and encourages them to think about their role as a citizens in addressing problems. This course is also intended to reinforce sophomores’ connection to their cohort and to strengthen retention.
Proposals for new courses that will be designated as SYS will be reviewed by both the Academic Programs Committee and the First Year Experience Committee. Existing courses that will be designated as SYS only need to be reviewed by the FYE Committee. The FYE Committee’s role is to work with faculty to ensure that courses meet the expectations and address the learning outcomes.