First-Year Seminar

Each student will be expected to pass a 2 or 3 credit approved first-year seminar course.

  1. Each college will determine if it will develop, propose and offer a first-year course. If a college does not offer a FYS its students will be advised to enroll in a course in another college. A college can adapt an existing course(s) to University standards (as described below), or create a new course(s). Each college will determine the appropriate staffing and scheduling model so long as the course is at least two credit hours but could be three at the discretion of the College. (Two-credit courses will satisfy the University FYS requirement; a College can require its majors to take a three-credit course at this level as part of the major).
  2. Student work expectations and learning outcomes will be standardized (as per the hallmarks below); the General Education Committee (GEC) (or a subcommittee thereof, or a specially designated First-Year Seminar course committee with GEC and Curriculum Committee representatives) will review all proposed courses and all college-level proposals for alternative paths to satisfying the requirement. A designated officer in Academic Affairs will support the GEC and/or special committee in this work.
  3. Students can be advised (but not required) to take a first-year seminar course in their home college. Transfer students without an Associate's degree and fewer than 30 credits are expected to take a first-year seminar course.
  4. To be designated as a first-year seminar, a course must:
    1. Explicitly introduce and explain, on the syllabus and in the course content, the University Undergraduate Learning Outcomes and the purpose and structure of General Education at UNLV. Course academic content must therefore to some degree address content-based Objectives such as Global Awareness and Civic Engagement/Ethics as applied to the discipline(s) of the College.
    2. Require at least 5 hours per week of individual study outside the classroom (readings, research, laboratory work, writing, preparation of a presentation or portfolio, etc), to ensure academic rigor. (*The figure of 5 hours per week is the recommendation of Arum/ Roska's research on what elements of undergraduate courses show greatest impact on student performance on critical thinking and communication skills).
    3. Portions of the syllabus will be standardized, but the topic of all student work should address academic content area(s) of the College.
    4. At least one credit hour is taught by an academic faculty member each week (could be more credit hours; faculty can rotate throughout the semester, etc.)
    5. At least one credit hour per week is a small group (25 students maximum). Need not to be the same hour taught by academic faculty; could be a discussion section.
    6. Within these parameters, colleges can opt for a mixed delivery model (e.g. faculty lecture + discussion sections)
  5. The above hallmarks are intended to achieve the following priorities for this course:
    1. Introduction of students to General Education - University Undergraduate Learning Outcomes
    2. Prepare students to succeed in competitive research university degree programs
    3. Prepare students for success in second-tier "intensive sophomore seminar" or Second Year Seminar (SYS)
    4. Increase retention rates from first-to-second year; increase overall graduation rates; and increase achievement of student learning outcomes along the way.
    5. Communicate to students our (UNLV's) concern for their success - i.e. not leave them to "Sink or swim"
    6. Provide direct involvement of first-year students with university faculty.
    7. Provide small-group interaction (through small class sections and through possible learning communities of linked classes).

Second Year Seminar Course — "University Intensive Sophomore Seminar"

Each student will be expected to pass a 3-credit sophomore intensive seminar course, for which the prerequisites are fulfillment of all first-year requirements (6 credits of English composition, 3 credits of math, and 2 credits of First-Year seminar).

  1. Students can use credits earned in Second Year Seminar to fulfill General Education requirements other than area distributional requirements (such as International, Multicultural or Constitutions - if they enrolled in a section so designated) or to fulfill major degree requirements if recognized by the home department as such. However, since not all Departments may choose to offer seminars, students will not be advised necessarily to take the intensive seminar in their home department.
  2. Implementation will be university wide; any faculty member could propose to teach a section so long as it meets the hallmarks described below. But no College or Department would be required to offer any sections of Second Year Seminar at any time.
  3. ENG will commit to continuing to schedule and staff enough sections of World Lit (ENG 231 & 232) (modified slightly to meet the hallmarks as described below) each semester, which will continue to be recognized as fulfilling this requirement, until and unless this policy would be changed by the GEC. (This "build-out" is intended to smooth the transition from the old to the new General Education curriculum and ensure feasible implementation and increase the proportion of General Education courses taught by full-time faculty without requiring heavily burdened departments or colleges to staff Seminars).
  4. Student work expectations and learning outcomes will be standardized by the General Education Committee (as per the hallmarks below); the GEC (or a subcommittee thereof or a specially designated Sophomore Intensive Seminar committee with GEC and Curriculum Committee representatives) will review all proposed courses. A designated officer in Academic Affairs would support the GEC and/or special committee in this work.
  5. Transfers students with an Associate's degree or with 60 credits will not be required to complete a SYS, though all students would be advised to take at least one sophomore intensive seminar.
  6. Hallmarks of a Second Year Seminar - Sophomore Intensive Seminar. To be designated as a SYS - Sophomore Intensive Seminar, a course (or a section of a course) must:
    1. Address explicitly all General Education - University Undergraduate Learning Outcomes, but topics and readings for each section are selected by the faculty proposing the section. Topics will address content-specific Learning Outcomes (Global Awareness and Civic Engagement/ Ethics). Assignments will address competency-based Learning Objectives (Critical Thinking skills and Communication Skills).
    2. Sections will be of 25 students or fewer.
    3. SYS will be taught by full-time academic faculty members (these may include emeritus faculty, Faculty-in-Residence, Artist-in-Residence, or Scholar-in-Residence having achieved advanced candidacy status towards a terminal degree).
    4. SYS sections must be reading and writing intensive: reading assignments must average at least 40 pages of primary source material (ie excluding textbook) per week) and writing assignments must be at least 20 pages per semester. (These amounts are intended to be minima and are based upon the research of Arum and Roska.)
    5. Assign students work that intentionally enhances critical thinking performance (i.e., analysis of argument, evidence vs. opinion)
  7. The above hallmarks are intended to prioritize:
    1. Small group interaction (sense of intellectual community)
    2. Faculty/student direct contact (exposure to expertise and passion of faculty )
    3. Improved communication and critical thinking skills
    4. Improved critical thinking skills (intensive engagement with analysis of texts, use of evidence to construct argument)
    5. Exposure of students to breadth of cultures across geographic space and time
    6. Greater presence, over time, full-time academic faculty in lower-division general education classrooms.
    7. Appeal to highest-achieving High School students considering UNLV
    8. Longer-term gains in UNLV's national reputation for academic rigor
    9. Distinguish UNLV general education curriculum from competitors in NSHE and in region, enhancing "value-added" of UNLV degree for graduates