First-year students and faculty members agree: FYS 129 seminars are a change from ordinary. Students enjoy small-group learning while transitioning to college. Professors enjoy engaging with students on topics of mutual interest while receiving $1,500 for research support.
These one-credit courses are offered on a satisfactory/no credit basis, with enrollment capped at 18 students. You may adapt your teaching specialty to this format or develop a freshman experience in an area of expertise that you rarely, if ever, teach. Focus on making it fun for both you and your students.
If you are looking for ideas, consider topics that are consistent with the Ready for the World initiative. Or think about building on themes from this year’s Life of the Mind book: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. Topics include health, race relations, poverty, science, and more. Read a review from the New York Times here. Other university areas of focus such as civility might also engage freshmen.
You might be concerned about interacting with students who are notoriously both highly intelligent and digitally distracted. Consider including practices such as inquiry-based problem solving, service learning, and peer-to-peer learning. Many successful seminars engage students in areas related to a faculty member’s research.
The second semester of the freshman year is often a challenging time for students. The opportunity to engage with a faculty member and a small group of students can be a major factor in helping students with the many transitions they are experiencing in their lives. The university is committed to continuing this program as part of our focus on becoming a world-class university that graduates leaders and life-long learners.
With the end of stimulus funding, we are looking for ways to make this program more efficient and effective. One way to do this is to try to encourage maximum enrollment in all sections. We will publicize the classes and strongly encourage freshmen to sign up. Another thing we will be doing is “pro-rating” payment for classes that have small enrollments. If your class does not attract 18 students, we will work with you individually on making the decision about whether to pro-rate your research support or cancel the class.
To submit a 129 seminar proposal, or for more information on the seminars, please visit the Freshman Seminar website at http://www.utk.edu/freshmanseminar/. The deadline for seminar submissions is October 14, 2011.