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The Purpose of a First Year Seminar: An Analysis of Major-Specific vs. Non-Major-Specific FYS Courses at the University of Wyoming

Cole, Olivia
Abstract
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The first year of university for incoming students promotes an environment of unexpected experiences and challenges. “During the transition from school to higher education, young adults experience a substantial amount of change where they progress from the highly controlled setting of school to the autonomous and self-motivated environment of university” (Gibson, Shaw, Hewitt, Easton, Robertson, & Gibson, 2018). First Year Seminar programs (FYS), used in many colleges, are designed to aid first year students, of all disciplines of study, in this transition. In this study, I looked what the purpose of a First Year Seminar was according to students and if there were differences in their answers depending on if their class was discipline-specific or non-discipline specific. My investigation was conducted with semi-structured interviews with 29 second, third, and fourth year students who had taken an FYS class in their first year. I also interviewed one FYS faculty member. The students’ responses demonstrated that many students understand that the class is supposed to be for transitional purposes such as navigating campus, while the faculty instructor explained that the class is for critical thinking skills. As this study concludes, you will find that the majority of the students found the class useful for different reasons whether it was major-specific or not. However, there is a disconnection of student and instructor expectations of the purpose of a First Year Seminar. I present factual information on the First Year Seminar origins and student feedback through my research.
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University of Wyoming. Libraries