46.6 Thursday, Jan. 5 Writing across the curriculum: Explorations in nature and first year seminars IYENGAR, E.V.; Muhlenberg College email@example.com
First-Year Seminars (FYS) at my liberal arts institution are small (typically limited to an enrollment of 15), writing-intensive discussion-oriented courses required of all beginning students that promote intellectual discussion and critical thinking, reading, and writing skills. Faculty from across the college teach these courses, with the idea that the basic skills are accessible and applicable to any major. The course topic is chosen by the instructor, does not need to be in the instructor’s area of academic expertise, and must be of interest to a wide range of students, not merely ones majoring in the instructor’s field. In Fall 2011 I taught my first FYS, entitled Explorations in Nature. We concentrated on three general locations as topics for discussion: Alaska, Antarctica, and open ocean exploration. A wide variety of assignments, involving various mediums (including poetry, art, music, and field explorations of a stream) complemented our typical readings and promoted active discussions of a wide range of approaches to nature. Course components, in particular the use of jigsaw techniques for class discussions and writing assignments and the use of portfolios as a component of the rewriting and grading process, are discussed.