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First-Year Seminar for Faculty: FYS Goals

FYS Goals

Students will…

  • Become engaged in intellectually challenging and interesting questions and problems.
  • Develop strong mentoring relationships with faculty in and out of the classroom.
  • Join the community of scholars at Xavier University.
  • Establish a solid foundation on which subsequent Core Curriculum courses will build.
  • Engage with a common theme across all seminars: The Greater Good.

Students will become engaged in intellectually challenging and interesting questions and problems.

Unlike every other course in the Core Curriculum, CORE 100 is not departmentally specific. You are a member of a department, but FYS is not. The designation CORE 100 (as opposed to ENGL 100, HIST 100, or POLI 100) signifies that all FYS sections directly and exclusively serve the Core.

This unique orientation makes your CORE 100 course different than any you have taught previously at Xavier, and that difference can be liberating. You are not bound by discipline-specific constraints in this class; in fact, you are expected to incorporate multiple disciplines into your approach. Furthermore, because CORE 100 counts only for Core credit and not for any major/minor programs, there can be no departmental expectations that your course cover certain discipline-specific content. Instead, your CORE 100 course will be entirely driven by intellectually challenging and interesting questions and problems.

The possible topics are limitless. Here are some factors you should consider:

  • Is this question or problem sufficiently challenging and interesting to sustain an entire semester’s worth of study?
  • If this is a subject that you have taught before for your department? How will you revise your content and approach to teach the subject outside your department to non-majors?
  • Is there a question or problem that lies outside your disciplinary expertise, or that you have been curious about but never before had the opportunity to explore in depth? If so, a CORE 100 course might provide you with an ideal opportunity to educate yourself more about this question or problem, learning alongside your students.
  • If a topic lies outside your current expertise and previous teaching experience, are you sufficiently conversant in the subject to guide students through the course? Are there other experts and resources you might draw upon to supplement your instruction?
  • Keep your audience in mind: mostly 18 year-old first-year students who are not majors in your field. Do the guiding questions and problems of this course seem likely to interest that demographic? Is the degree of intellectual challenge appropriate to that age and level of academic experience?

Students will develop strong mentoring relationships with faculty in and out of the classroom.

Mentoring relationships are crucial to the retention and success of undergraduates. According to the authors of How College Works, “a single meeting with a professor to work through a paper could have a decisive effect on a student’s writing, and...just a single visit to a faculty member’s home could significantly shift a student’s entire vision of the college experience.” A Gallup Poll finds that graduates who said they had a "mentor who encouraged my hopes and dreams," "professors who cared about me" and at least one professor who "made me excited about learning" are three times more likely to be thriving and twice as likely to be engaged at work. As mentors, faculty create a space for students to take risks, explore, and experience setbacks and frustration so that they develop grit and resilience.

Central to CORE 100 seminars is the development of mentoring relationships between faculty and students. While it is typical for faculty to meet with students during office hours, particularly when students are in need of assistance, it is not uncommon for some students to take the initiative while other students do not. CORE 100 requires that faculty take the initiative to meet with students individually beyond the scheduled class with the aim of developing over the semester a mentoring relationship. While this kind of relationship can organically develop over time, faculty can also foster the possibility for mentorship through some of the following:

  • Holding individual meetings with students about their writing and course work.
  • Encouraging students to discuss their experience as a first-year student and their transition to university life at Xavier.
  • Attending events outside of regularly scheduled class.
  • Having lunch or dinner with students on campus.
  • Inviting students over for dinner.
  • Holding individual meetings with students about their vocation and aspirations to contribute to the world.
  • Engaging in service activities as a class.
  • Connecting students with faculty and staff across the university who can address their interests and concerns.

Being a mentor to FYS students is not the same as being a faculty or major adviser. You are not required to advise students on courses relevant to their major or the Core.  

Students will join the community of scholars at Xavier University.

CORE 100 sections will introduce and welcome students to the community of scholars at Xavier University. While this introduction will occur first and foremost in the classroom, instructors should invite, encourage and require students to participate in events across the university. While the specific nature of the scholarly engagement remains at the discretion of the instructor, it may include:

  • Attendance and follow-up discussion on Spark: The FYS Call for the Greater Good, a panel conversation on the greater good and on finding one's vocation.
  • Attendance and follow-up discussion on talks, debates, films and other events that take place on Xavier’s campus or elsewhere in the Greater Cincinnati area. First-Year Seminar instructors are encouraged to take advantage of the multitude of existing resources and scholarly initiatives that are readily available to Xavier students, such as the E/RS lecture series, the John W. Rettig lecture series, Constitution Day events, Sustainability Day events, and relevant events sponsored by Goa. You might also take the opportunity beforehand to discuss the etiquette of attending a talk.
  • Participation in events and activities that engage the seminar topic from an alternative disciplinary perspective. 
  • Participation in a field exercise, a service-learning activity, or undergraduate research project. Instructors are also encouraged to incorporate events and activities sponsored by the Eigel Center for Community Engagement, the Center for Faith and Justice, the Center for Teaching Excellence and other Xavier University offices and organizations.
  • Participation in events that are particularly linked to Xavier's mission.

The list of events above is not exhaustive. Please contact the Director of the First-Year Seminar if you would like to add an event or opportunity to this list.

Students will establish a solid foundation on which subsequent Core Curriculum courses will build.

CORE 100 sections need to be intentional in their acknowledgment of the course as an introduction to the Core. Early on, you should situate your section in the context of Xavier’s Core and pose questions relevant to the Core’s purpose. For instance, you might discuss:

  • Why is this course called CORE 100? What does the term “Core Curriculum” mean?
  • Why does any university have a set of courses required of all students, regardless of major?
  • In broad strokes, what is Xavier’s Core Curriculum? Why do we have the Core that we do?
  • How do the aims of the Core both differ from and complement the aims of a student’s major?
  • Why is CORE 100 required? Why should this particular section of CORE 100 matter to a student, regardless of major?
  • How does this CORE 100 course introduce, in an integrated way, various parts of the Core Curriculum?

The precise questions and format for addressing them are left to individual instructors, so long as each section meets the common FYS goal to establish a strong foundation on which subsequent Core Curriculum courses will build.

Students will engage with a common theme across all seminars.

The theme for all CORE 100 seminars is “The Greater Good.” The Jesuit tradition of Magis invites us to work in a spirit of generous excellence--to consider the greater good in all that we do, including our academic work. Faculty from across the university are encouraged to interpret this theme from their disciplinary and personal perspectives. For instance, you might consider:

  • Attend a campus talk or event, and discuss afterward the speakers' interpretation (whether spoken or unspoken) of the greater good.
  • Assign texts that raise different ethical, intellectual, social, political or cultural approaches to the greater good.
  • Assign a project in which students apply their understanding of the greater good to specific issues.

Every few years the theme will be reevaluated and a new broad theme relevant to Xavier’s mission and Core Curriculum could possibly be selected.