A-6. Management of First Year Seminar

A-6. Management of First Year Seminar

Note: This policy is currently under review. (Summer 2011)


To establish guidelines for managing Capital College's First Year Seminar.


The First-Year Seminar "is a required course designed to ease the transition from high school to college. Each college at Penn State offers a First-Year Seminar program designed to meet the needs of students in that college." Each Capital College School offers a first-year seminar experience for its own students and for those students planning to matriculate at other Penn State locations. At Capital College, the First Year Seminar will generally be offered during a typical student's first fall semester as long as there are sufficient resources to support the number of sections and the students' learning needs.


The following principles apply to the management of the First Year Seminar.

  1. Each full-time Capital College faculty member with more than three years teaching experience at Penn State is expected to teach the First Year Seminar as part of her/his regular teaching load subject to the needs of the School and the approval of the School Director.

  2. The First Year Seminar has been approved as a one credit course by the appropriate faculty review committees and the University Faculty Senate.

  3. The one credit teaching assignment for the First Year Seminar is weighted as 1.5 credits because of the additional preparation required for all instructors and the extra time involved in counseling with students, participating in training and periodic updates of FYS content or pedagogies, and attending the First-Year Student Resource and Support programming, which will occur throughout the semester.

  4. Faculty will have a choice of teaching First Year Seminar as a part of their regular teaching assignment[s], an additional teaching assignment without compensation to be credited against future course release, or as a paid overload. While the Dean, Senior Associate Dean, and the School Directors discourage faculty from teaching overloads because of the potential deleterious effects on their research and service responsibilities, they agreed that the following provisions will cover the three possible choices mentioned in this paragraph:

    1. If the FYS is taught as part of a regular teaching assignment for an academic year, the School Director and the faculty member will work out the course release arrangement. Since the two-semester FYS assignment equals a three-credit course, the Director and the faculty member can adjust the typical 3-3 teaching assignment as necessary to achieve an equitable balance between effort and the needs of the School.

    2. If the faculty member and the Director choose to "bank" the FYS for a future courses release, they are free to do so as long as the arrangement is made in writing following consultation with the appropriate Program Coordinator. Any course release promises must be fulfilled within two years.

    3. If the faculty member elects to teach the course as an overload, the compensation rate will be indexed to the practices adopted in the college's Overload Compensation Guidelines.

  5. Faculty who elect to teach the course as an overload without compensation will receive a one course load reduction after completing two seminar sections. Two First Year Seminar teaching assignments are equivalent to one three-credit course based on the weighting described in paragraph 3 above. All such arrangements will be made in writing by the School Director.

  6. Faculty members will normally teach only one section of First Year Seminar in one semester. However, for faculty teaching at both campus locations, an additional section may be assigned by the School Director in consultation with the faculty member and the First Year Seminar coordinator.

  7. The section size for FYS is established at 20 students with exceptions allowed only with the written concurrence of the School Director and in consultation with the Senior Associate Dean and the Assistant Dean for Academic Affairs. Directors may elect to prepare and distribute guidelines in advance to the campus registrars explaining the criteria for exceptions to the enrollment limits. If exceptions are allowed, there should be a periodic assessment of the enrollment practices.

  8. Faculty teaching First Year Seminar are expected to participate in all FYS training sessions and cooperate with the coordinator and/or Registrar in the collection of data related to the effectiveness of the seminar.

  9. Whenever possible, First Year Seminar should be linked to a General Education class, and the instructors of both courses should integrate the learning skills included in FYS with the course content in a "learning community" instructional environment.

Effective Date: May 8, 2002