First-Year Seminars and Experiences

Definition

First-year seminars have been found to increase student persistence and retention, with the work of George Kuh (2006) and the AAC&U LEAP report revealing the characteristics of the highest quality first-year experiences (characteristics bolded for emphasis): Many schools now build into the curriculum first-year seminars or other programs that bring small groups of students together with faculty or staff on a regular basis. The highest-quality first-year experiences place a strong emphasis on critical inquiry, frequent writing, information literacy, collaborative learning, and other skills that develop students’ intellectual and practical competencies. First-year seminars can also involve students with cutting-edge questions in scholarship and with faculty members’ own research.

In Five High-Impact Practices: Research on Learning Outcomes, Completion, and Quality, Swaner & Brownell (AAC&U, 2010) found that the following outcomes can be attributed to students’ participation in first-year seminars as high-impact practices:

  • Higher persistence rates,
  • Higher graduation rates,
  • Short-term positive effects on grade point averages,
  • Gains in commitment to social justice/multicultural awareness,
  • Greater academic and campus engagement, and
  • Greater faculty and peer interaction.

First-Year Seminars and Experiences at UNCG

The following UNCG courses are specially designed to support first-year students, with more than two-thirds of first-year UNCG students participating in at least one of these courses annually:

  • ART 105: Foundations Seminar
  • BIO 100: Orientation to the BIO Major
  • BUS 115: Blueprint for Personal Development
  • FYE 101: Succeed at the G
  • HHS 125: Design Your Life I: What Could I Do with My Life?
  • HHS 135: Design Your Life II: Redesign a Life You Love
  • HSS 198: Honors Colloquium
  • RCO 155: Rhetoric of the College Self

Additionally, General Education courses offered within the course shells of the College of Arts & Sciences Freshman Seminars Program (FMS), the Honors College (HSS), and the Residential Colleges (RCO) deliver academic content scaffolded for students early in their academic careers.