Redefining FYE (First-Year Seminar Content)

On October 28, 2004, Noelle Call from Utah State University wrote to the list looking for works that discuss the value of including particular lessons, such as study skills, in FYE courses. Judy Villa responded with an FYE course syllabus from Quinnipiac University. Paul Gore from Southern Illinois University mentioned an emerging body of literature concerning the inclusion of career development and exploration activities in FYE courses, and Melody Kilcrease of San Diego State University responded in agreement with Paul's findings. Marc Dearstyne from SUNY Cortland also responded to Paul, inquiring into the role that age plays in his findings. Beth Oakley from the University of Windsor suggested subscribers read an article by Schutt & Malouff that discusses incorporating emotional skill development into FYE courses. Mahara Sinclaire of Langara College suggested the On Course series by Skip Downing. John responded in agreement and supplied the web address where this series can be found.

Noelle Call (read FYE post or send email) noellec@CC.USU.EDU
Judy Villa (read FYE post or send email) Judy.Villa@QUINNIPIAC.EDU
Paul Gore (read FYE post or send email) Paul.Gore@ACT.ORG
Melody Kilcrease (read FYE post or send email) kilcreas@MAIL.SDSU.EDU
Marc Dearstyne (read FYE post or send email) DEARSTYNEM@CORTLAND.EDU
Beth Oakley (read FYE post or send email)
Mahara Sinclaire (read FYE post or send email)
John (read FYE post or send email) charlesscolly@YAHOO.COM

October 28, 2004 11:46am
Original Message: Redefining FYE

Hello from Utah,
We are in the process of redefining the curriculum in our FYE course. The course had a large component in the area of study strategies. The administration feels that this approach is "remedial" and we need to be focusing on areas that engage the student in connecting to the campus community, academically and socially. I would like to ask the following questions:
Is there a body of literature that focuses on the value of particular lessons in FYE courses?
For example, is there evidence that "study skills" are measurable? And that such measures reliably differentiate retained/non-retained students? And, that particular exercises or lessons have a demonstrable positive effect on such measures?
Any responses or referrals to literature will be appreciated.

Noelle Call
Director Academic Resource Center
Utah State University
0120 Old Main Hill
Logan, Utah 84322-0120
435-797-1154 fax

October 28, 2004 2:38pm
Re: Redefining FYE

The following is taken from a late draft of the FYE course being piloted this semester at Quinnipiac University. QU 101 will be followed by two additional seminar courses in subsequent years.

QU 101 Freshman Core Seminar: The Individual and Community?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />

This course will explore age-old questions about the concepts of “the individual” and “community”, and how they have been theorized and discussed in literature, history, the arts and social and physical sciences. What is an “individual”? How can we define “community”? Are these concepts cross-cultural universals? In what ways do individuals and communities transform themselves and each other? What kinds of “communities” have we participated in? This course will focus on students' own life experiences and will connect these to inquiries and analyses about individual and community. This small, seminar-style class will emphasize writing about and discussion of these issues, and students will have the opportunity to conduct fieldwork or experiential research projects related to questions that arise during the semester.

Boyer's article from the book Orientation to College
article about looking at everyday experiences by Robert B. Smith
essay “What's So Good about a College Education?” by Andrew Mills
readings on experiments by Milgram, and Zimbardo (Stanford);
“Essay on Triage” by Hardin
Quinnipiac Student Handbook
Declaration of Independence
United States Constitution.
The Trial of Socrates, I. F. Stone
The Name of Identity by Amin Maalouf
The Burning of Bridget Cleary by Angela Bourke
The Laramie Project
Christopher Browning, Path to Genocide
The Plague, Camus

Dramatization of The Trial of Socrates
Sound and Fury
The Laramie Project

Judy Villa
Quinnipiac University

October 28, 2004 12:00PM
Re: Redefining FYE - Career Interventions Work

There is a growing body of research that suggests that career development and exploration activities provided in a class environment are effective in promoting positive career outcomes (e.g., more confident in one's ability to make a sound career decision, perceive fewer barriers to making a career decision). There is also another body of research that shows that positive academic outcomes are related to intermediate career outcomes. For example, college retention is related to the congruence between a students'
interests and his or her choice of academic major. We have also observed higher rates of retention among students who seek career counseling services relative to a matched (matches on achievement, race/ethnicity, entering cohort) group of students who did not seek career counseling. My colleagues and I have an ongoing research program in an FYE seminar that corroborates the broader literature on the effectiveness of career
interventions (e.g., class-based, individual counseling, computer-assisted guidance, group workshops). We have found that our 4-5 class period career module promotes college self-efficacy, encourages higher levels of career exploratory behavior, results in fewer perceived career barriers, and promotes decision-making efficacy, and vocational identity.

Paul A. Gore, Ph.D.
Director, Career Transitions Research, ACT, Inc.
Co-Director, University 101
Southern Illinois University, Carbondale

October 28, 2004 5:31PM
Re: Redefining FYE - Career Interventions Work

Your research seems to verify the same findings we see at SDSU. I would be very interested in learning more about what you put in your module, since we too include a career explorations option in our FYE seminar. I wonder if you could share your module, or if you have written it up someplace that I can access?

Melody Kilcrease
San Diego State University

October 29, 2004 10:29PM
Re: Redefining FYE - Career Interventions Work

Thanks for the submission. I am interested in any methodology that shows promise at breaking down barriers people perceive to be present. Applying individual attention to students (which really is what we are talking about here) provides a sense of belonging and self-efficacy that translates to the student/person wanting to stick around for more of the same. Retention will naturally rise as more individual attention is paid. I have a question for Paul's research design… Can you control for age? My thought is that the interventions you mention become more productive with increased age. For instance, the junior will be more receptive to these interventions than will the freshman. Thanks for your thoughts.

Marc Dearstyne
Academic Program Counselor
SUNY Cortland

October 28, 2004 1:02PM
Re: Redefining FYE

I've recently done some research into different topics covered in FYE courses and found a good article that might help you in terms of the possibility of incorporating some lessons on emotional skills development in an FYE course. To summarize the article.... Schutte & Malouff (2002) examined in two similar FYE courses but each with different themes Two sections included themes and incorporated assignments related to emotional skills development through readings, lectures, discussions, and journals. The other sections of the course focused on themes such as those related to college and life as a journey. The goal was to teach students how to recognize emotions and apply emotional skills to their academic experiences. Students involved in the emotions themed course showed an increase in their emotional skills level compared to the other group. This section of students also showed an increase in their rate of retention. Here's the reference: Schutte, N. & Malouff, J. (2002). Incorporating emotional skills content in a college transition course enhances student retention, Journal of the First-Year Experience & Students in Transition, 14(1), 7 -21.

Beth Oakley
Student Development Specialist
Transition Support Educational Development Centre
Room 117 Dillon Hall (Lower Level)
University of Windsor
401 Sunset Ave.
Windsor, ON N9B 3P4
(519) 253-3000 ext. 3461
Fax (519) 973-7095

October 28, 2004 2:35PM
Re: Redefining FYE


The On Course series by Skip Downing has lots of reflective ideas on emotional beliefs- e.g. victim behaviour/language vs creator language/behaviour, self responsibility, motivation, e.i. etc.

Mahara Sinclaire, M. Ed.
Faculty Instructor
College and Career Access Program
Langara College
Vancouver, BC Canada

October 29, 2004 2:15PM
Re: Redefining FYE

Hello Colleagues,

I agree with Mahara that Skip Downing's On Course website, workshops, free newsletter, and text all offer plentiful resources that are perfect for FYE classes. Check them out at

Best wishes,