Seminar to be offered for freshmen

Tobias Flemming and Tobias Flemming

Starting Fall 2015, the University will introduce a new class for incoming freshmen called BGSU 1910: First Year Seminar.

The class piloted this year in the fall, and Dr. Susan Kleine, Associate Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education, was part of the team that developed the course. She said there are multiple goals as to why this class will be offered to first year students in the future.

“The intention is to offer students an academic experience for first year students,” she said. “An opportunity in a seminar setting to explore a topic of interest and to learn what it means to approach a topic academically.”

Kleine said another goal is to allow students to connect with their fellow classmates and their teachers.

According to Kleine, research across the country shows that connecting with others is an important way to help a student transition quicker and more successfully to college.

The maximum class size of the first year seminar will be 20 students and Kleine said the class was modeled after a similar class for freshmen at the University of Georgia.

While the class is mandatory there, the First Year Seminar at BGSU will not be a requirement on each student’s check sheet.

Some of the classes that were offered this fall included titles like The Last Days of Mankind: WWI in Literature and Film, The Psychology of Social Media: You Are What You Post, or The Politics of Sex.

Kleine also said it is voluntary for teachers to pick up a section.

“In most cases, typically it will be an overload and they get compensated according to the collective bargaining agreement,” she said. “I call it a faculty member’s dream course because we all have courses we wish we could teach but there is no opportunity and this is your chance to do it. The students tend to like that too,” she said.

Freshman Heather Ann Bee chose to take BGSU 1910 this semester as an introduction to her college career.

“I took Politics of Sex in particular because I knew it would not be the typical college course,” she said. “There was nothing graphic in the class, but you had to be mature enough to discuss some of the material.”

She added that her teacher Dr. Sarah Rainey pushed the students out of their comfort zones, yet it opened her eyes to a better college experience.

While there are some basic learning outcomes that are generic and done regardless of a teacher’s topic, Kleine said that teachers will be able to add their own learning outcomes to the curriculum.

“One of the things we expect faculty to do, is to get students to take part in activities outside of class,” she said. “It is really all about coming to college and realizing the world is a little bit bigger than maybe you thought.”

Freshman Samantha Deckard said that some of the strategies she learned while taking the class could help her in the future.

“We had question-and-answer sessions every couple of weeks where we could anonymously ask anything we wanted without fear of embarrassment,” she said. “These were particularly helpful, since they answered questions I might not have necessarily wanted to ask

out loud.”

Teachers can currently submit proposals for sections they would like to teach in the fall of 2015.

Kleine said that with the start of the fall semester next year, BGSU 1910 will be part of the opening weekend for first year students.

“Next year we are going to have a three-day opening weekend and it will start on Friday instead of Saturday,” she said. “So on that Friday, about three or four hours worth will be this class and it will be part of the obligation for professors to make this a very interesting and engaging experience but it will also help the class bond.”

Although the class started out as a small pilot this year, Kleine hopes to add a lot more sections to “grow the program because it’s working.”