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First-Year Seminar for Faculty: FYS Student Learning Outcomes

FYS Student Learning Outcomes

Students will…

  • Core 1b: Apply the approaches of multiple disciplines to a significant issue.
  • Core 6b: Articulate the evolution of their vocation and aspirations to contribute to the world. In FYS, this includes:
    • Introducing students to the idea of vocation 
    • Guiding students in thinking about how vocation and career might overlap  
    • Discussing vocation as part of mentoring conversations and in the context of our Jesuit identity and focus on solidarity, kinship, and service
  • Core 3a: Identify and critically assess multiple dimensions of an ethical issue in an attempt to reach a conclusion. In FYS, this includes:
    • Interpreting challenging readings.
    • Employing effective library research and information literacy skills.
    • Constructing arguments supported with evidence.


The FYS Committee will be assessing each of the SLOs yearly on rotation.. Faculty teaching CORE 100 should be prepared to provide student assignment descriptions and artifacts of student work which demonstrate achievement of each of the SLOs. 

Core 1b: Students apply the approaches of multiple disciplines to a significant issue.

CORE 100 courses should introduce, at a basic level, a multi-disciplinary approach to the seminar topic. At least two disciplines should be incorporated through reading and discussion in a substantive way. You may do so through collaborations, events, or your own expertise. The precise nature of the multi-disciplinary approach is left to the discretion of the instructor. For example:

  • Students will attend talks on or off campus delivered by experts in other disciplines, and then discuss them as a class.
  • Readings will come from at least two disciplines.
  • Faculty from other disciplines will be occasional guests in the course.
  • The course will sometimes meet with a course from another discipline.
  • The course will involve the analysis of multiple cultural forms, such as poetry, drama, film, novels or music. Note: it is not sufficient to merely present material in a variety of cultural forms (such as showing a film). The course must analyze these forms using the appropriate methods.
  • The faculty instructor will foster a deep conversation about the various disciplinary perspectives offered in the Core Curriculum.

Core 6b: Students will articulate the evolution of their vocation and aspirations to contribute to the world.

“Vocation” is broader than preparation for a major or a job. A key part of the Xavier mission is to challenge and support students as they cultivate lives of reflection, compassion and informed action. Accordingly, in CORE 100, students should consider how the study of the seminar topic connects to the larger world. In addition, First-Year Seminar students should also be given the opportunity to engage in questions about how their scholarly endeavors--in the seminar and at the university more generally--speak to their own sense of purpose and their ability to contribute to the betterment of society. We might ask them, in a number of ways, "Who are you now?" At an introductory level, the articulation of vocation and aspirations to contribute to the world might involve:

  • A series of classroom conversations about vocation.
  • Mentoring meetings with faculty.
  • A series of reflective essays, journal entries, or portfolio items.
  • Guest speakers from university offices or from outside the university.
  • Encouraging students to reflect on the purpose of their college education and how it will contribute to their vocation.
  • Discussion of the Core Curriculum, including E/RS.

Core 3a: Students will identify and critically assess multiple dimensions of an ethical issue in an attempt to reach a conclusion.

CORE 100 supports students’ ethical reflection and growth and prepares students for their further intellectual and ethical development through E/RS. Therefore, in all CORE 100 seminars, students will critically assess an ethical issue--more specifically, an aspect of the theme of “the greater good.” At an introductory level, this means that seminar discussion and assignments should help students to articulate:

  • Their own perspective on the course topic and the relevant ethical issues.
  • Multiple dimensions of the course topic, such as historical, political, economic, short-term and long-term dimensions.
  • Multiple interpretations of the course topic, including ones that fundamentally disagree.
  • The fact that there is not necessarily one correct answer to the questions posed by the course topic.
  • The evidence or standards that they or others use to support their positions.

Students will interpret challenging readings.

We live and work in an era where the concepts of “texts,” “reading,” and “interpretation” are understood very broadly. Interpreting challenging readings may involve reading words on a page, discussing them orally in class, and responding in depth by producing a written interpretation. However, acceptable texts for FYS may also include paintings, sculpture, music, songs, films, graphs, maps, reports, computer programs, etc. Likewise, acceptable forms of interpretation may extend beyond writing papers to any number of interpretive exercises: oral presentations, visual displays, creative performances, etc. It may also be useful to provide a variety of secondary texts to supplement your study of primary texts. For instance, an album by Bob Dylan is likely to be interpreted in very different ways by musicians, rock critics, literary scholars, philosophers, sociologists, and theologians. Invite students to see how different perspectives can yield substantially different interpretations.

What makes any of the above “challenging”? It could be the level of difficulty. Unpacking a dense passage from a philosophical tract and teasing out its various meanings would be one such example. Articulating the many broad issues raised in a text would be another.  Tackling a complex mathematical theorem and understanding its various premises and calculations would be yet one more example. But sometimes a deceptively simple text can be rendered challenging if examined carefully and critically enough. Analyzing panels from a graphic novel to see how the juxtaposition of specific words and images create an effect greater than the sum of its parts would certainly count as interpreting a challenging reading. Examining a series of sexually provocative advertisements to reveal the gendered assumptions behind their marketing message would be another such example. Texts that are not only challenging to interpret but are also likely to challenge pre-existing student assumptions are especially useful.

The selection of texts and the methodological approaches to them are left to individual instructors, so long as interpreting challenging readings is an important facet of every CORE 100 section. See "Teaching Difficult Texts" box under the "Assignment Ideas" tab.

Students will employ effective library research and information literacy skills.

One of the goals of CORE 100 is to help students learn how to conduct college-level research. We encourage you to contact the library liaison for your department and invite them to provide library research instruction and assist with the creation of assignments that incorporate research and information literacy skills. These skills should be used with at least one specific assignment, rather than a general skills overview. While the assignments are left to the discretion of the instructor, we strongly recommend the following:

  • Enroll the Library Liaison into your Canvas course
  • Discuss assignments with the Library Liaison
  • Assign XUTutor modules
  • Bring the class to the library for instruction and to work on a tailored assignment

The following resources can help instructors design assignments:

An assignment may include:

  • Research using library databases
  • A critique of internet searches
  • Pre-tests and post-tests of information literacy
  • Media projects and/or presentations instead of or in addition to research papers

The Library is offering a prize for the student paper that makes the best use of library resources. Please see the prize announcement for details.

Students will construct arguments supported with evidence.

Keep in mind that many students taking CORE 100 will not yet have completed Composition or Rhetoric. In fact, many will be enrolled in ENGL 101 or 115 at the same time they are taking your class. Therefore, unlike most other classes you teach at Xavier, you cannot assume that students in this class have had much instruction or practice in university-level writing. In other words, you will need to provide more explicit and more basic writing instruction than you are probably accustomed to if you expect students to write well in CORE 100.

One key element of academic writing that should be emphasized across all CORE 100 sections is argument. While not every assignment in your course needs to adhere to this SLO, every CORE 100 should provide, in one form or another, some attention to constructing arguments supported with evidence. Here are some suggestions for meeting that expectation:

  • Understanding Argument: Emphasize that the academic sense of “argument” is not about engaging in a hostile debate in an effort to defeat the opposition. Rather, academic argument makes a well-reasoned claim (or “thesis”), based upon careful reflection and supported by appropriate evidence, in an effort to persuade an audience (for most assignments, an audience of one’s peers).
  • Crafting Argument: Depending upon the kind of assignment, some combination of the following criteria will likely be important to crafting a convincing argument:
    • Strength of Claim: How well reasoned is the thesis?
    • Treatment of Opposing Views: Has the student considered competing claims and taken them into account in reaching his/her own conclusions?
    • Audience Awareness: Is the kind of argument being advanced appropriate to the rhetorical situation?
    • Organization & Style: Does the student make effective points in the best possible sequence to build momentum for a persuasive claim by the end? Does the student write in clear prose and observe appropriate rhetorical conventions so that he/she establishes credibility as a writer?
  • Supporting Argument with Evidence: Depending upon the kind of assignment, some combination of the following criteria will likely be important to supporting a convincing argument:
    • Finding Evidence: What kinds of support are appropriate to this argument? Where would one find that evidence?
    • Evaluating Evidence: What kinds of sources are reliable? What kinds of sources are suspicious or illegitimate? How can one tell the difference?
    • Selecting Evidence: Once one has collected primary and/or secondary evidence, how should one determine which evidence to include and which to exclude?
    • Incorporating Evidence: How does one appropriately cite outside sources within one’s own essay? What style sheet is appropriate for this class or assignment?
    • Acknowledging Evidence: What is plagiarism? Why is it such a serious offense? What conventions must be observed to properly acknowledge sources and avoid plagiarism?

Sole authority for specific assignments resides with individual instructors. Just remember to pay attention to constructing arguments supported with evidence in each CORE 100 section.