When we make our final recommendations to Senate next month, the General Education Task Force will be recommending that incoming first-year students at Millersville be placed in small, supportive learning communities during their first semester. It is expected that many of these learning communities will include new Gen Ed first-year seminars - three-credit, theme-based, intellectually rich courses linked to a Fundamentals course (Engl 110, Comm 100). In order to move in this direction, we are asking that a pilot-test of about 10 sections of these new seminars be undertaken in fall 2005. We propose that they be taught as sections of UNIV 179 on an experimental basis with 20 students per seminar. The sections involved in the pilot-test will involve Exploratory (undecided) students only (now being served by UNIV 101 linked to a learning community). Incoming students would receive letters informing them of the opportunity and asking that they indicate their top five choices of seminar topics. Students would be placed into seminars on a first-come basis until the various seminar offerings are filled. It is expected that these would be living-learning communities.
Rationale for the First-Year Seminars and Learning Communities
This proposal builds upon the success of our own growing experience with first-year programming for both Exploratory students and students with a variety of majors. It is also consistent with National trends to enhance the engagement of students early in their college careers to promote their retention and eventual success. A draft of the course proposal for First Seminars (distributed at the last Senate meeting) provides further specification and justification for these courses. This proposal is now being amended to more fully incorporate some missing elements from UNIV 101.
What is being asked of Senate?
Action is needed now on this proposal in order to recruit faculty for the pilot-test, to get the courses on the books, and to properly coordinate with the linked courses and residential life.
Appearing below is a listing of sample first-year seminar topics that have been proposed by Millersville faculty or by faculty at similar institutions.
Why We Hate? (based on a book by the same title by Ross Dosier)
Guardians Of The Dream Of America
Breath In The Air: The Science And Social Impacts Of Air Pollution
Why Do I Buy? Media, Marketing, And Identity
Brown Vs. The Board Of Education
Romantic Visions: Wordsworth, Keats & Coleridge
Humanity's Quest For Meaning And Justice
Mastering Nature: Humans And The Ecosystem
Information Technology: Ethics And Issues
Literary Voices From The Middle East
Geometry, Topology, And The Shape Of The Universe
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