The search to understand FYI courses
First Year Inquiry (FYI) courses have been implemented in CSC graduation requirements since 2012. According to Jim Margetts, School of Liberal Arts Dean, there have been some issues surrounding the purpose of FYI courses.
The message has not been relayed well to students about the purpose of FYI courses and why they have to take them. They enroll in weird-sounding courses, such as, “Survival Skills 101.” Students are often times questioning the point of the class and enter it with the mindset that it is a joke.
Margetts agrees that students would be more accepting to the classes if they understood the true purpose of them.
“The idea of trying to flip the classroom a little bit, and put the student at the center of the learning environment.” Margetts said. “They’re challenging students to start asking questions and to be able to support their theory or their proposal on using sound evidence and being able to use resources. It sort of sets the stage for all of your college career but also it hopefully sets the stage for lifelong learning.”
We believe more action needs to be taken to get feedback from students about FYI courses. Since being appointed Margetts has taken initiative in getting student feedback.
Margetts addressed this concern about efficiently obtaining feedback by describing a new assessment program.
“Starting this semester, we’re piloting a new assessment program for FYI and Capstone classes where there’s a rubric that we’re testing right now,” Margetts said. “It’s been approved by the Essential Studies Committee that asks whether the students have gained the skills that are outlined in the original documentation of what FYI’s are supposed to be.”
Some of the FYI courses have been found to be more rigorous than others, and we believe that that needs to be addressed. Margetts acknowledged that concern,
“We recognize that there are still inequities in the FYIs across campus.” Margetts said. “One of the things that the Essential Studies Committee has decided to do is work on assessment and making sure we’re offering the right classes in the summer and in the fall and spring. Next semester we’ve reserved to doing what we call recertification.”
The recertification will entail all professors who are teaching an FYI course to go through a process to recertify them. This will verify that the course still meets the expectations of what the purpose of an FYI course is.
It will result in some changes and hopes to make sure all faculty are on the same page of the rigor expected of FYI courses.
In 2012, when the Essential Studies Committee implemented FYI courses, there were three students represented on the committee, appointed by Student Senate. Since 2012, Margetts stated there has not been a prominent student presence in that committee.
Margetts encourages students, if they feel there is an issue, to speak up. There is still a place reserved for students on that committee.
We believe if students actively take advantage of the opportunities given to provide course feedback and are informed as to the purpose of FYI courses, faculty and students have the potential to get the most out of the courses.