Three years in, the campus'' Faculty First-Year Seminars (FFYS) are being called a success - by new students, faculty and administrators, all of whom say they have come away with new insights and new plans for the year ahead.
Since the Fall 2009, first-year students have been offered the rich opportunity to enroll in FFYS, an innovative small class taught by tenure system faculty and senior lecturers. To date, 80 faculty members have participated, more than one-third of these faculty members have taught 2 or more semesters.
These one-credit, pass/fail seminars allow incoming students to connect with faculty and engage in a topic they are passionate about. Based on end-of-course evaluations, students particularly praise the seminars for igniting their interest in new subject matter, challenging them to think in new ways, and for building an appreciation for the range of opportunities at a research university.
Faculty report that teaching in the FFYS program affords them opportunity to mix formal and informal outcomes (e.g., advice about the transition to college as well as core content) and, as they learn more about what incoming students think, to guide the shape of the seminar in innovative ways.
Further, teachers say FFYS courses have proven a win-win, students and instructors alike. Both cite an increased perception of "connection" and a sense of "fun" with the topic and each other due to the lower stakes. Faculty especially like the opportunity to get to know students individually afforded through this small seminar format.
The call for proposals for the Faculty First-Year Seminar (FFYS) program for Spring 2012 is now open (deadline November 2). To submit a proposal for the spring, please go to: http://www.umass.edu/provost/teaching-learning-curriculum
To see full descriptions of previous seminars and links to assistance in developing a proposal
The FFYS program is co-sponsored by the Offices of the Chancellor, Provost, Undergraduate Advising & Learning Communities, and the Center for Teaching and Faculty Development.