First Year Seminar Frequently Asked Questions
Coordinators and administrative staff
Adele Raymond is the staff contact person/division secretary for FYS. Please
contact her if you have any procedural questions about FYS. Syllabi from
past years are kept in the Dean's Office; if you would like to look at copies,
please contact Adele.
Each year FYS has a coordinator serving to help with procedural questions
The current coordinator is:
Goals of FYS
The goals of FYS are to teach students to think critically and to assess
sources of information; to help students become aware of the lenses through
which they perceive and recognize that their perceptions are not universal.
Theme of FYS
The theme is human diversity: racial, ethnic, cultural, social, economic, class, gender and sexual orientation.
Who must take FYS? Are any students exempt from FYS?
All first-year students who are attending full time must take FYS in fall
semester their first year. Students who have attended college elsewhere and
have earned at least 12 credits after graduating from high school are exempt.
The course may be taken only by first-year students in their first term at
What if a student fails to complete FYS?
Students who fail to complete FYS under the current Human Diversity theme
must complete three GenEd global village courses, one of which must be a Human
The course will be intellectually rigorous, including a variety of materials such as readings, convocations, presentations, and performances. Students will respond to these through discussion, writing assignments, and other projects designed by instructors. Materials will vary according to the topics of individual sections.
What are the scheduled events?
- Two or three FYS faculty meetings in spring term for organization and information
- FYS faculty meeting, usually the Thursday before classes begin
- Section meetings during Orientation, usually late Friday afternoon
- Kick-Off Convocation, usually Tuesday evening of week one
- A meeting in January bringing together the faculty from the previous fall
and the new faculty for the next fall term.
Do we have any money to spend?
Each instructor has a budget allocation that is administered by the Dean's
Office. Each section is allotted $150.00 to spend as they see fit. Thus, if
you have two sections, you have $300.00 to play with, and no one is picky about
how you spend it. In past years funds have been used for groups to eat out,
attend events, and duplicated articles.
All spending must be run through the Dean's Office. Reimbursements are not
allowed due to processing costs. A purchasing card is used for items
purchased off campus and a budget number for items purchased on campus. Do
not pay for something at the Bookstore and then bring the receipt to the
Dean's Office for reimbursement and do not send your students to purchase something
and then expect them to be reimbursed.
How much work can I ask my sections to do?
This is a two-credit class, so keep that in mind while planning your course. As you know, for undergraduate courses, one credit is defined as equivalent to an average of three hours of learning effort per week (over a full semester) necessary for an average student to achieve an average grade in the course. Earning an A would likely require more hours of work per week. So, for FYS, you can expect them to spend 4 hours a week working on the class outside of classroom time.
We have had extensive complaints from students who feel that the work-load
is distributed very unevenly among the various instructors (and they are right).
Use your own judgment, but try to keep the workload appropriate for a two-credit
What do other people do in FYS for homework?
It varies widely from instructor to instructor. However, tests are not usually
given; instead instructors tend to assign readings, presentations, projects
and papers; to require attendance at some campus activities. Final exams are inappropriate.
See Teaching Methods for examples and ideas.
Who do I order books through?
Books and desk copies are to be ordered with your other book orders through
your division secretary, or through the Dean's Office.
What are the library sessions?
As part of introducing students to college life, the FYS requires two (2)
50 minute library sessions (to be held during class); please allow for these
in your syllabus. The sessions are designed to provide research assistance
for the course as well as a general introduction to the library’s resources.
The first session should be held fairly early, within the first month of class,
since it covers essential resources such as the library catalog, journal databases,
and interlibrary loan. The second session can be scheduled later in the term,
ideally in relation to a specific project. The content of
the second session is more flexible. We go into additional library resources,
research strategies, internet resources, source evaluation and plagiarism.
While there is plenty to cover, this outline takes second place to the wishes
of the faculty who should feel free to request any format or material they
want; we will find ways to fit in the necessary library information. Library
instruction is always more successful when connected to the class, and similarly,
students respond better when the faculty member is present although this is
not essential. More information can be found at Information
Literacy. For scheduling
FYS library sessions and any related questions, contact the library instruction
coordinator, Jane Blodgett at 589-6175, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Do I get paid for doing this?
If you are a first-time instructor, you will be paid a $1000.00 (gross) summer course development stipend.
Three evaluations are distributed in First-Year Seminar:
- The all-University Student Opinion of Teaching evaluation
- An evaluation of the particular components of FYS
- An evaluation of advising in the first year
The procedures are the same as for other UMM courses: notify the Dean's Office
(i.e., Adele Raymond) of the date/time the evaluations will be conducted
in your sections; provide the name of the student volunteer who will administer
them. Any class meeting before the last day of class is
appropriate. Since there are three evaluations, a full class period is usually
What about FYS subcommittees?
We have several subcommittees that do the yearly work for FYS. These are the reader subcommittee, the
assessment subcommittee, and the archive subcommittee. All FYS faculty are expected
to serve on a subcommittee.
This subcommittee collects and assesses data from the evaluations to determine
what needs to be adjusted in FYS each year.
This subcommittee serves as liaison between FYS and the UMM Archives Center,
which collects material for the campus archives.