First Seminar Program Courses at TCNJ
FSP courses are courses taken primarily by entering first-year students in their first semester of college. Unlike introduction-to-college courses at many schools (often called “first seminars”), at TCNJ, the First Seminar is a primarily academically focused course that also has many elements built-into it to promote student success in college. FSPs will vary greatly but share the following common properties:
- Students live in living-learning communities. In most FSPs, the students will live in the same residence hall, usually spread out on two or three adjoining floors. The other students on the floor will often be from other FSPs on similar subjects. The goal is to create an environment for intellectual conversations about the FSP course content outside of the classroom. Studies have shown that students have higher retention and success rates in college when they are enrolled in classes with students who live near them.
- FSPs are writing-intensive courses. The type of writing will vary depending on the instructor, but the expectation is that students will write the equivalent of 20 pages of polished prose during the semester. For at least one of their writing assignments, students should turn in a draft, receive comments, and then revise the assignment before receiving a final grade from the instructor.
- Promote discussion and oral presentation skills. FSPs are distinguished from “regular” TCNJ courses by an increased emphasis on discussion and oral communication projects. Faculty have complete freedom to design their FSP course as they wish, but past instructors have found increased opportunities for students to discuss the readings and create oral presentations beneficial to achieving the course goals.
TCNJ First Seminar Program Academic Learning Goals (Fall 2013)
- To foster intellectual curiosity in the students;
- To introduce students to college-level assignments and college-level expectations in terms of writing, reading, research, and oral presentations;
- To improve the students’ ability to think critically about their world, their culture, and their own beliefs;
- To foster a student culture of intellectual engagement outside the classroom,
- To encourage students to take greater responsibility for their own learning;
- To introduce students to the concept of a well-rounded education based on a breadth of knowledge that goes beyond their immediate professional or academic field; and
- To accomplish the appropriate Liberal Learning domain goals and any appropriate interdisciplinary concentration goals for the course.
Goals for Living and Learning Communities (Fall 2013)
- To assist first-year students in forming peer communities and healthy social bonds,
- To create an academically supportive residential environment,
- To encourage socializing around academic interests and unmoderated intellectual discussions in the residence halls,
- To foster intellectual community as an integral part of the peer communities formed by first-year students,
- To encourage students to take greater responsibility for conditions in their community and their nation,
- To encourage the presence and involvement of faculty in the residence halls,
- To promote cooperation between faculty and Student Life staff, and
- To make group work, study sessions, film screenings, writing workshops, field trips, and other similar learning activities for the FSPs easy to organize and effect.