Faculty Resources

For Prospective Instructors of First Year Seminar

First Year Seminar (UCO 1200, HON 1515, WRC 1103) introduces first-year Appalachian students (freshmen and transfers*) to rigorous academic study at the University level through interdisciplinary engagement with a broad topic or question. Experienced faculty engage FYS students in a shared process of inquiry in small seminar-style classes. (The average class size is 22.) The faculty help students make the transition to academic life at Appalachian by introducing students to a variety of library research tools, making connections with faculty and other students, introducing the wide range of resources Appalachian provides its students, and involving the university and local community. Teaching FYS also requires explicit communication with students about the University's General Education learning goals to help students build competencies that will take them through their college career and beyond.

All of Appalachian's First Year Seminars (including the WRC and HON equivalents) share in common the following learning goals, which are the foundation of the University's General Education Program: developing creative and critical thinking abilities; cultivating effective communication skills; making local-to-global connections; and understanding responsibilities of community membership. Appalachian's First Year Seminar course serves as a designated Global Learning Opportunity ("GLO" for short) because all FYS courses cultivate intercultural competence by examining a single issue from multiple perspectives. All FYS courses also include a library research component around the individual topic to build students' information literacy skills.

First Year Seminar courses are taught at universities across the nation, but there are many different types. Some FYS courses are extended orientations, some introduce students to a specific discipline or profession, and some are basic study skills seminars. At Appalachian our First Year Seminars are not these types. At Appalachian every First Year Seminar is designed by the individual faculty member proposing the course on their topic of choice that integrates the aforementioned objectives. As such, Appalachian's First Year Seminars are first and foremost academic seminars based on the unique content of an instructor's scholarly expertise, taught so as to meet the shared goals of our FYS program. Teaching a First Year Seminar can be a rewarding, fun, and enriching experience for the instructor and their students.

Prospective instructors propose their topic and describe how their course will meet the common learning goals to an elected faculty committee which reviews each proposal about a year in advance. (See below for current deadlines.)

First Year Seminar faculty most often already work and teach on our campus. In some cases, we hire individual instructors on a course-by-course basis, even though we cannot provide office space or computers for these individuals.

An elected faculty committee (FCC) reviews each FYS proposal and the credentials of anyone proposing to teach a FYS course. For this reason, a FYS course is not "transferable"-- any course approved is approved to be taught by a specific instructor. And any given instructor's course, once approved, must be re-reviewed after three years to be eligible for renewal.

Interested in Teaching First Year Seminar?

Below is more information about the steps to take when applying to teach a First Year Seminar. Please read each step completely before submitting your proposal online. If you have questions about the process for proposing a FYS course, please contact Dr. Rick Klima, FYS Faculty Coordinator, at klimare@appstate.edu.

*Deadline for proposals is 5:00 pm Friday of the second week of classes. For Spring 2024, the deadline is 5:00pm Friday, September 1, 2023.

First Year Seminar courses provide first year and transfer students the opportunity to learn problem-based research skills in a course that revolves around a common, broad topic. While topics may vary by course, each course is required to have certain elements in it such as use of the Common Reading text, co-curricular activities, and inquiry-based learning.

Why Teach a First Year Seminar Course?

  • You can have a positive impact on first year and transfer students.
  • As a FYS instructor, you can have an opportunity to teach a favorite topic.
  • Because class sizes are small, there are opportunities for close engagement with your students.
  • The structure of FYS gives you opportunities to take students outside the classroom to service learning projects and/or extra-curricular activities.
  • The interdisciplinary FYS faculty gives you opportunities to work with other colleagues in other disciplines dedicated to first year seminar.
  • Faculty development allows you to have discussions on teaching pedagogies that may even help you out in other areas of teaching and research.

FYS class

The FYS Program prioritizes tenure-track faculty to teach in FYS. Any full-time faculty members in an existing academic unit on campus--whether tenure-track or non-tenure-track--must have approval from their Department Chair/Program Director who commits to releasing them to teach First Year Seminar for three future semesters. Occasionally, FYS courses are taught by qualified individuals who do not currently hold teaching positions at Appalachian State. Such individuals must have prior teaching experience (ideally with first year college students), at least a Master's degree, and the academic training, scholarly contributions, prior teaching, and/or work experience suited to their proposed topic for FYS.

Proposal Guidelines

To propose a FYS course, individuals must submit a current CV, a completed course proposal form, and a draft syllabus. It should be clear in both the proposal form and the syllabus how the proposed FYS course topic, activities, and assignments align with the FYS learning goals.

Course Catalog Description

As approved by AP&P, effective Fall 2015.

The First Year Seminar (UCO 1200) provides students with an introduction to the four goals of a liberal education at Appalachian State University. Specifically, students will practice (1) thinking critically and creatively and (2) communicating effectively. In addition, students will be introduced to the learning goals of (3) making local-to-global connections and (4) understanding responsibilities of community membership.

While each First Year Seminar course engages a unique topic examined from multiple perspectives, each course also introduces students to a common set of transferable skills. As such, First Year Seminar facilitates student engagement with: fellow students, the university, the community, and the common reading; essential college-level research and information literacy skills; and the habits of rigorous study, intellectual growth, and lifelong learning.

Note: UCO 1200 or an equivalent "First Year Seminar" course (such as HON 1515, Freshman Honors Seminar, or WGC 1103, Investigations: Local) is required of all freshmen completing General Education requirements. It is also required of all transfer students with less than 30 semester hours of transferable work or who graduated from high school less than one year before their matriculation date. Transfer students with 30-59 semester hours of transferable work are eligible to enroll, but it is not required. Students with 60 or more earned hours are not eligible to enroll without permission from the Office of General Education.

Explore the next step to see Common Expectations for First Year Seminar and peruse the "For Faculty" links on this FYS website to see how and why the First Year Seminar is designed the way it is.

First Year Seminars are designed and delivered by individual faculty members, each of whom proposes the course on their topic of choice in a way that integrates the learning goals of our FYS (see link below for those). As such, Appalachian's FYS courses are academic seminars based on the unique content of an instructor's scholarly expertise and taught so as to meet the shared goals of our FYS program. In order to provide a measure of consistency and meet the learning outcomes of the First Year Seminar all faculty, regardless of their scholarly focus, should:

  • Design a course (topics, assignments, activities) that will enable you to meet the 10 learning goals of the First Year Seminar.
  • Utilize at least two different modes of inquiry.
  • Use engaging pedagogies and involve students in a shared process of inquiry.
  • Provide formative and summative assessment-- give students feedback early and often so they get a good sense of their strengths and deficits.
  • Use best practices for syllabus and assignment design to give students a clear understanding of what you expect from them and what they can expect from you.
  • Involve students in problem-based learning with a research/library component (your own assignment component plus the Library's online modules).
  • Help students make connections with faculty, other students, their courses, and the university through an intentional focus on community building and co-curricular involvement (e.g. service learning, cultural events, outdoor programs, etc.).
  • Find ways to engage the year's Common Reading book.
  • NOT be narrowly focused or an introduction to a specific discipline.

The design of First Year Seminar provides an opportunity for students and faculty to use co-curricular opportunities both on and off campus. These opportunities will help first year and transfer students to make the connection that learning is not always done in the classroom. The incorporation of these opportunities can be as simple as accompanying students to the event and then having students write a reflection journal about what they learned and how it applies to what is being learned in the classroom; however, if you want to incorporate the experience in a much more intricate way in your classroom you can.

FYS co-curricular activity

Examples of how faculty have used co-curricular activities include:

  • Attending the Russian Ballet and writing a reflection journal on the performance
  • Attending a performance of Romeo and Juliet and writing a reflection journal on the performance
  • Attending Del Mccoury Band and Preservation Hall Concert and writing a reflection journal
  • Studying the culture of rivers and then helping with the New River Clean Up
  • Learning about the community of Elk Knob then building the hiking trail at Elk Knob Park and helping with Elk Knob Community Day

Instructors have also worked with colleagues to combine classes and take them on co-curricular activities. Activities done in the past include:

  • Attending the National Storytellers Festival in Jonesborogh, TN
  • Visiting to the National Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C.
  • Visiting the RReNEW Collective, an organic farm in Appalachia, Virginia

Instructors are encouraged to seek out and support free campus and community events and activities. Here are some helpful links to see what's happening on campus and in the community:

Free Events for Students and Faculty

  • Arts at Appalachian - This site is an overview of the diverse and vibrant arts programs that enrich the cultural and intellectual climate of the ASU campus and region.
  • Turchin Center - The Turchin Center for the Visual Arts presents exhibition, education, and collection programs that support Appalachian State University's role as a key regional educational, cultural, economic and service resource.
  • Rosen Concert Series/Hayes School of Music - The Hayes School of Music also engages the local and regional community with more than 190 concerts each year, giving students valuable performance experience. The school offers summer workshops for teachers, year-round musical instruction for people of all ages through our community music school and the renowned Cannon Music Camp for outstanding high school musicians.
  • The Hughlene Bostian Frank Visiting Writers Series -This series brings visiting poets, fiction and non-fiction writers to speak to the ASU campus and the community.
  • University Forum Lecture Series - The mission of the University Forum Committee is to bring distinguished speakers to the campus of Appalachian State University for the purpose of enlightening and educating the university community about issues of interest.
  • Department of Theatre and Dance - The Department of Theatre & Dance offers an array of productions each year featuring students, faculty, alumni and other professionals.
  • Outdoor Programs - Outdoor Programs has offered ASU Students, Faculty and Staff a chance to get outside and seek challenge and adventure for nearly 40 years. We are NOT a club and there is NO membership required. We always have something going on from 3-hour team building experiences to 55-day International expeditions, state of the art indoor climbing center to rental gear, OP has something for everyone. So, take a look at the 09/10 Adventure Book, poke around the website and stop by our Base Camp in the Student Recreation Center to discover everything OP can offer you. Don't settle for inside!
  • Arts Calendar - This site shows upcoming arts and cultural events at ASU.

Paid Events

  • APPS - Through its seven programming councils, A.P.P.S. members select, plan, promote, and present a diverse variety of popular entertainment programs and films which enhance the social and cultural life for Appalachian students.

Service Learning Experiences

  • Appalachian and the Community Together - Appalachian & the Community Together (ACT) is Appalachian State University's clearinghouse for community service, service-learning, and community-based research opportunities within the NC High Country area, as well as across the state, nation, and world. We offer diverse opportunities for individuals and student groups to get involved in human services and environmental advocacy, as well as assist faculty members and community partners with integrating community service projects into their academic courses and local agencies.

Each FYS course is unique and based on a topic in which the instructor has expertise and is passionate about teaching. But through their unique topic, each FYS instructor designs a course with either assignments or activities intentionally designed to align with the following ten goals.

Goals of Exposure

The Goals of Exposure are goals of the First Year Seminar that require activities but not necessarily graded assignments.

  1. Expose Students to Appropriate Campus Resources that Help Students Actively Engage in Meaningful Activities throughout College
    • Evidence of Success: Students will be able to name and know how to locate campus resources such as the Writing Center, Student Learning Center, and library resources, as well as identify opportunities for involvement such as co-curricular activities, service learning, and clubs and organizations.
  2. Expose Students to Explicit Expectations for College-Level Work and Support for How to Meet the Level of Challenge
    • Evidence of Success: Students will: grasp the amount of time and effort inside and outside of class required for success in college; explore a topic that increases awareness and little-known information indicating intense interest and curiosity; complete required work on deadline; pursue opportunities to expand knowledge and skills; pursue educational interests independently outside classroom and basic requirements; make explicit references to previous learning and apply new knowledge to demonstrate comprehension; review prior learning to reveal significantly changed perspectives about education and life experience.
  3. Expose Students to the Purpose of a Liberal Education and College
    • Evidence of Success: Students will embrace their General Education requirements as designed to: prepare them for complexity, diversity, and change; provide them with knowledge of the wider world; cultivate their intellect, imagination, and holistic development; and provide them with transferable skills such as effective communication, critical and creative thinking, making local-to-global connections, and understanding responsibilities of community membership. Put another way, students will understand that the University has economic, civic, and well-being cases for providing them with a General Education.
  4. Engage the Year's Selected Common Reading Book
    • Evidence of Success: Students will: show appreciation of the authorial and/or the creative process; engage with the common reading book critically and begin to build topical and global knowledge based on the text; and/or practice, in discussing the book, civil discourse in a dissensual community of learners.
  5. Expose Students to the General Education Goal of Understanding Responsibilities of Community Membership
    • Evidence of Success: Students will identify relationships between governments, economies, or societies; identify one's own participation in civic life; and/or describe civil discourse in dissensual communities.
  6. Expose Students to the General Education Goal of Making Local-to-Global Connections
    • Evidence of Success: Students will develop awareness of the importance of learning: how human agency is affecting humanity, the natural world, and/or the environment; the effects of global change on humanity, nature, and/or the physical environment; various relationships between local regions and people and larger global issues, processes, trends, and/or systems; sustainability in reference to community development, interactions with the natural world, and/or global change; contemporary issues related to cultural diversity in the US and other areas of the world; issues concerning effective communication with people of other cultures, their worldviews, and their frames of reference.

Goals of Practice, with Course-Embedded Assessment

The Goals of Practice require not only activities but also structured assignments to give students both opportunities to develop the skills and meaningful, individual evaluative feedback from their instructor.

  1. Practice Thinking Critically and Creatively (per General Education goal)
    • Student Learning Outcome (SLO): Students will show some evidence of the following skills: generates questions based on previous information; allows for alternate and/or multiple possibilities; reasoning follows ordered, coherent sequence; identifies, gathers, evaluates, sifts, and organizes information (data, research findings, ideas, etc.); approaches problems utilizing novel ideas, processes, or types of evaluation; relies on appropriate evidence, ideas, logic, methodologies, etc., to make supported findings and conclusions; and relates multiple ideas, observations, or phenomena and/or develops hypothesis and uses empirically derived evidence to address a problem or issue.
  2. Practice Communicating Effectively (per General Education goal)
    • Student Learning Outcome (SLO): Students will show some evidence of the following skills: identifies the simple aim of the message; states the purpose of the message; identifies aspects of the audience; Identifies information sources used; demonstrates awareness of diverse viewpoints; uses relevant criteria to analyze context and situation; identifies preliminary criteria to evaluate and select sources; demonstrates reflection on, and interpretation of, information; demonstrates awareness of the scope of information; shows awareness of assumptions; organizes concepts; shows integration and development of content; creates message that follows a general organizational pattern; creates message that reflects awareness of the purpose and audience with adaptation of approach and tone to them; selects mode of communication that is appropriate for the purpose and audience; presents the message follows primary or major conventions of the discipline, including mechanics and documentation; and generally maintains audience engagement.
  3. Practice Examining a Single Issue from Multiple Perspectives to Cultivate Intercultural Competence (per University QEP's "GLO" goal)
    • Student Learning Outcome (SLO): Students recognize the importance and validity of others' perspectives and/or provide culturally grounded evidence to make points (e.g., recognize the cultural underpinning of evidence, opinion, and arguments)
  4. Practice the Acquisition of Information Literacy Competencies (in coordination with the required FYS Online Library Component provided by University Library)
    • Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs): Students will be able to: (1) use multiple information sources in order to investigate a research topic; (2) identify search strategies in order to identify and locate information sources; (3) identify criteria/characteristics for authority in order to determine the credibility of sources; and (4) demonstrate proper attribution and citation in order to give credit and/or acknowledge the original ideas of others.

You are required by the university to post certain policy statements on your syllabus. You may copy the statements from the Academic Affairs website and paste them into your syllabus, or you may simply link to all the policies students are responsible for knowing. The policies, which may be updated from year to year, have to do with Academic Integrity, Student Engagement with Courses, the Religious Observance Policy, Disabilities Services, etc., can be viewed on the Academic Affairs website.

First Year Seminar Office Hours Policy

The Appalachian State University Faculty Handbook mandates that faculty schedule 1.5 office hours for every 3-credit course they teach in the regular academic year, and that each unit have a policy of the mix of in-person vs. virtual hours. In First Year Seminar, ideally FYS faculty keep all required office hours face-to-face. However, up to 1/3 of the required office hours may be online/virtual, in which case instructors must articulate the means of access to those virtual hours on the syllabus. None of one's scheduled office hours, either in person or online/virtual, may be "by appointment."

The following are some RECOMMENDATIONS for your syllabus:

  • INSTRUCTOR BIO. Why do you teach this topic? What qualifies you? Where were you educated? What are your academic interests, etc.
  • INSTRUCTOR'S POLICY ON RECORDING/DUPLICATING INFO. Do you allow students to record, photograph, videotape, or otherwise copy your presentations, class discussions, slides, lecture notes, etc.? If not, put it in writing on your syllabus.
  • INSTRUCTOR'S POLICY ON TECHNOLOGICAL DEVICES. While App State requires that we allow students to have their cell phones on and simply set on vibrate mode because of Appalachian's emergency communication system, instructors should tell students whether or not they allow students to be using phones in class, using iPads or other tablets, using laptops, cameras, etc.
  • COPYRIGHT STATEMENT: It's your syllabus. Consider a copyright statement such as "copyright Your Name [year]."

Sample Syllabi

Note: some policies in syllabi may be outdated; always include current policies in your syllabus.

Syllabus Checklist and Template

Sample Proposals

FYS Course Proposal Form

The form is a pdf file with input boxes. You need to have Adobe Acrobat Pro to be able to save what you have typed into this form. Tip: do not begin typing into the form when you open the form in your internet browser. Rather, when you click open the form and it's in your internet browser, click right (or, on a mac, control click) to get the option of opening the file with Adobe Acrobat Pro. Once you are viewing the file in Adobe Acrobat Pro you will be able to type into the input boxes on the form and save the form.

In support of FYS Goal of Practice #4, "Practice the Acquisition of Information Literacy Competencies," all FYS students are required to view the FYS Library Modules (online modules in AsULearn that teach information literacy skills). The Library Modules are made available by the University Libraries to all FYS courses each semester, and it is recommended that they count as 5% of the course grade. To practice what they learn in the Modules, all FYS courses should include research assignments to help students build information literacy skills and to provide individual students with feedback on their research strengths and areas for growth.

It is recommended that the Modules be assigned prior to or concurrently with the research assignment in the course, ideally scaffolding the Modules appropriately to align with parts of the assignment. The FYS instructor and Information Literacy Librarian for the First Year Experience can be close partners in helping first-year students develop the skills they'll need to succeed. For more, read the First Year Seminar Library Modules 2022+ Assessment Plan and visit the Library Resource Guide for FYS Faculty.