Some changes for 2017

What’s new for 2017?

We updated the FYS learning objectives.

The new objectives do not change what we’re trying to do in FYS. We revised them because we recognized that the old set didn’t resonate well with our primary audience – our students. We know this because we polled a select group of students who said our original objectives were jargon.

These new objectives are shorter and written in plain everyday English. Our goal is simple: that when asked (by parents, advisors, etc.) “What’s FYS all about?” they and you will be able to confidently share.

Here’s the list.  Note that there are now seven:

  1. Identify and grasp the nature of complex problems;
  2. Habitual use of critical thinking strategies;
  3. Actively seek divergent points of view; value cognitive diversity;
  4. Possesses Intellectual courage and curiosity;
  5. Cooperatively create and communicate knowledge;
  6. Design your path in the Quinnipiac Educational Experience;
  7. Initiate the journey toward having an inquiry and integration mindset; practice it in the arts, humanities, the natural sciences, and the social sciences.

I find that if you say them often (and use different phrasing when you do) they’ll stick.

FYS is about learning how to wrestle with complex problems.  It’s about using critical thinking strategies, cognitive diversity, intellectual courage, and communications skills (all of which you’ll need regardless of what you chose to do after QU) to thrive in today’s knowledge society.

It’s about designing your own path and knowing how to take advantage of the depth of breadth of the University’s offerings.

The structure of the course is slightly different as well. In phase I there’s more emphasis on helping students “self-author” (Keegan, R., in Baxter-Magold, M., 2002) their experience at QU. More on that in another post…but please know that we’ve changed updated the Personal Success Plan (PSP) to focus on asking effective questions (of yourself and your advisor.) It’s now called Roadmaps and Milestones (You can preview it in the ePortfolio template.)

We’ve also updated the Inquiry Cycle. What you see here is (Inquiry Cycle) the product of many hours of work between the different programs, schools, and colleges at QU. It’s a reflection of what they tell us they already do, meaning the language used in FYS will mirror the language used campus-wide.

This inquiry cycle is not so much about pedagogy, or how you’ll teach day-to-day, it’s about creating a mindset around understanding, evaluating, communicating, and acting.

Other changes include where, when, and how to do the readings in Phase II.  We do not want you carving out a week to focus on the arts, or the humanities (for instance) completely out of context to the work students are doing.

What we’d rather see is the incorporation of these areas into the study of a wicked problem. When you’re looking at your issue (I’ll arbitrarily pick “food” as mine) you might ask, “do historians view food differently than natural scientists?  How and why?  What about how artists of all kinds have treated the subject over the centuries?  How would a social scientist approach the problem?

We’ve discovered that if students are reading about the humanities in a block fashion, they are less able to apply (transfer) that knowledge to the others things they’re doing.  But it they read about the humanities when there’s a reason to know, they’ll make the connection.

In the next week or so I’ll publish a blog on how we’ve mapped the course design to our learning objectives (this’ll also be part of the August 23rd workshop) and I’ll post something about the roadmaps and milestones.

I know – I can’t wait either!



Magolda, M. B. B. (2002). Helping students make their way to adulthood: Good company for the journey. About Campus, 6(6), 2.




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