Freshman Seminar unchanged

After much debate last year over the effectiveness of Freshman Seminar, not much has changed – yet.

Administrators decided last year that the class will be an optional course for freshmen in fall 2003 and that Western will continue to assess the effectiveness of the class.

Psychology professor John Bruni, chair of the evaluating group for Freshman Seminar, said this is an adjustment year for UC-101.

Freshman Seminar Coordinator Cindy Jones said she hopes students will choose to take the course even after it becomes optional next year.

“I’m disappointed that it’s not going to be required,” she said.

Bruni said the most significant shift will be a change in class format.

In May, Provost Barbara Burch formed a UC-101 Governing Committee with the purpose of continually implementing changes in the class.

Psychology associate professor Katrina Phelps is chair of the committee.

“I think there are some very exciting things about to happen,” Burch said.

Phelps said the committee worked for six weeks this summer to identify areas of development and to work toward making recommendations for changes to freshman seminar. The committee presented those recommendations to Burch June 25.

The group has developed five sub-committees: learning communities, peer mentors, library education, curriculum training and marketing.

Of the five sub-committees, Phelps said the curriculum training is currently receiving the most attention.

She said UC-101 has been plagued by class comparability, flexibility and accountability, and the goal of the committee is to address those issues.

Committee members have proposed a number of changes, including alterations to the core content of freshman seminar.

“You have a tremendously user-friendly class,” she said.

Phelps said the core curriculum of the class will not make up the majority of what students learn. She said instructors will be allowed to tailor the course for specific majors.

“We think that will be better for students and better for faculty,” she said.

For those students who enroll as undeclared majors, Phelps said there will still be freshman seminar sections that focus solely on the core curriculum of the class.

Phelps said the committee has presented the proposal to Western’s Council of Deans and will next present it to university department heads.

“The goal is to be where we need to be by next fall,” she said.

Reach Molly O’Connor at [email protected]