The goals of the First Year Experience component are to connect students to life in an academic community and to provide a meaningful context for the beginning of the development of the habits of mind and the skills . The component consists of the following three courses to be taken during the first year.

First Year Seminar (3 credits) (Prior to 2018-19)

During the first semester, all first year students, including those transferring in fewer than 24 credits, take the course IS 1111 The First Year Seminar: Critical Thinking and the Nature of Inquiry. This course introduces students to the concepts of general education and the academic community and to the skills educated people use to generate and address important questions. Using critical thinking skills and basic tools of gathering and evaluating information, students and the instructor together explore a specific question which challenges contemporary thinkers. The question varies across sections of the course.

Tackling a Wicked problem (4 credits) (2018-19 and after)

Beginning in 2018-19, all first year students, including those transferring in fewer than 24 credits, take the course IS 1115 Tackling a Wicked Problem in their first year at Plymouth State University. Tackling a Wicked Problem replaces The First Year Seminar in the requirements of the First Year Experience. IS 1115 Tackling a Wicked Problem introduces students to the Integrated Cluster Learning Model, which engages students with integration and interdicipslinarity, project-based learning, and open pedagogy. With the instructor as a guide and facilitator, students work together to design and implement a project that tackles some aspect of a wicked problem. The wicked problem varies across sections of the course.

Tackling a Wicked Problem is a cornerstone course, through which students begin to build the repertoire of intellectual skills and dispositions, called Habits of Mind, needed for success in college and after graduation. Students engage with these Habits of Mind in the context of the wicked problem of the course. Assignments and activities provide students with the opportunity to practice and demonstrate their development of the Habits of Mind.

Composition (4 credits)

The Composition requirement is intended to help students become responsible writers who can take charge of their own writing process. It is satisfied by the course EN 1400 Composition or its equivalency.

Students learn how to draft, respond to feedback from peers and instructor, revise and edit successful college prose. By the end of the course, they should be able to write essays that are unified by a central thesis, well-developed in carefully organized paragraphs with vivid details, and grammatically appropriate with effective sentence structure and correct mechanics.

Students also learn to read comprehensively and effectively in order to relate ideas and arguments to their writing and thinking. They are expected to summarize different kinds of texts, paraphrase the ideas of someone else, analyze others’ arguments and positions, compare and contrast ideas, and generate their own thoughts and ideas following research and observation. Students are required to engage in library research and to write papers based on their research. Thus the General Education Skills being given special emphasis in this course are writing, reading, conducting research, and collaborating with others.

Math Foundation (3 to 4 credits)

Through the Mathematics Foundations requirement, students become aware of the importance of mathematics and its application to fields as diverse as art, music, and science. It is satisfied by a mathematics course numbered MA1500 or above, or by a mathematics course that is equivalent to MA 1500 or above, including credit-by-exam as explained below.

Mathematics Foundations courses focus on problem solving using the language of mathematics and on developing students’ ability to reason quantitatively in diverse contexts. Students learn to reduce complex problems to their fundamentals using algebra and geometry.

The Mathematics Foundations requirement enables students to make connections between mathematics and their own lives and to explore the roles of mathematics in society, culture, and politics. General Education skills given special emphasis are quantitative reasoning, critical thinking, and working with information technology.

A student cannot use the same course to fulfill both the Math Foundation and the Quantitative Reasoning requirements.

Students may demonstrate proficiency in mathematics by recording under the credit-by-examination policy, credits for a satisfactory performance on an AP, CLEP, DSST, or IB examination (see Appendix). Mathematics course work for which equivalent AP, CLEP, DSST, or IB credit has been received will not be granted credit.

Transfer students may demonstrate proficiency in mathematics by recording mathematics transfer credits that are equivalent to Plymouth State University courses. In cases where there is no equivalent course, the transfer credits must be deemed to be at a level equivalent to MA 1500 or higher by the transfer and articulation specialist and the mathematics faculty. Mathematics course work at PSU for which equivalent transfer credit has been recorded will not be granted credit.

If a student fulfilled the Mathematics Proficiency (as indicated in the 1998–1999 Catalog) by August 31, 1999, and chooses to change to the 1999–2000 or subsequent Catalog, the requirement to take a Mathematics Foundations course will be waived.


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