First-Year/Sophomore (FS) Program

Objectives of the First-Year/Sophomore (FS) Program

The FS program represents a first opportunity to achieve the Institutional Learning Outcomes as specified in the Allegheny College catalogue:

Allegheny’s educational program is designed so that its graduates are able to:

  • Think critically and creatively;
  • Communicate clearly and persuasively as speakers and writers;
  • Invoke multiple ways of understanding to organize and evaluate evidence, and to interpret and make sense of their experiences and the experiences of others;
  • Apply their knowledge and learning to engage in informed debate, and to analyze and solve problems.

The elements of Allegheny’s curriculum work together to provide students with a cohesive program in which all four Institutional Learning Outcomes may be achieved. In particular, the FS program, the junior seminar, and senior project progressively develop students’ abilities to read and listen critically, formulate their ideas, and become more effective writers and speakers.

Although students will typically have different instructors for their FS courses, the three courses form a continuum that moves from general to discipline-specific communication. In conjunction with the Junior Seminar and Senior Project, the FS courses prepare students to effectively communicate complex ideas and arguments to a variety of audiences in written and spoken form. All FS courses emphasize attention to audience and the importance of understanding conventions of communication within a particular context.

To enhance the development of students’ communication skills through the three FS courses and to encourage consistency of expectations across sections of the same course, we present the following list of FS Learning Outcomes.

A visual illustration of the design of the three course sequence is available here: FS schematic

Global Expectations of students in the FS Program:

  1. To become able readers, listeners, speakers, and writers acting in a variety of genres, occasions, and purposes.
  2. To develop an awareness of audience and its effects on the creation and delivery of ideas.
  3. To use the ideas of others to advance thinking.
  4. To understand reading and listening as acts of inquiry.

Learning Outcomes Specific to FS 101

  1. To recognize and express interesting ideas of intellectual value.
  2. To develop an engaging voice as a speaker and writer.
  3. To organize ideas effectively to communicate in specific contexts.
  4. To use language clearly, powerfully, and with appropriate detail.

In particular, the faculty encourages FS instructors to incorporate the following elements into the design of Academic Discourse I:

  • regular opportunities to speak in class and short writing assignments
  • no fewer than 10 pages of assigned writing, excluding revisions
  • at least two formal writing assignments of 3-5 pages that include the possibility of revision
  • at least one formal speech assignment (4-5 minutes) that includes preparatory work
  • library research as a part of at least one of the writing or speech assignments
  • at least two one-on-one meetings with each student.

Learning Outcomes Specific to FS 102

  1. To participate in a sustained conversation with other academic writers and speakers.
  2. To generate a thesis that addresses a clearly defined problem.
  3. To support a thesis with appropriate reading and evidence.
  4. To communicate in progressively complex and nuanced ways.

In particular, the faculty encourages FS instructors to incorporate the following elements into the design of Academic Discourse II:

  • regular opportunities to speak in class
  • no fewer than 20 pages of assigned writing, excluding revisions
  • at least three writing assignments (4-6 pages) that include the possibility of revision
  • at least two speech assignments (total of 12-16 minutes) that include outline development and extemporaneous delivery
  • research, with close attention to source credibility, as a substantial part of at least one of the writing or speech assignments.

Learning Outcomes Specific to FS 201

  1. To produce persuasive written and oral presentations that advance disciplinary ideas and conform to disciplinary conventions.
  2. To articulate or demonstrate how the work of practitioners in the discipline draws on and responds to the work of other practitioners.
  3. To incorporate the work of others in substantial writing assignments and presentations in discipline-appropriate ways.
  4. To design, utilize and/or document academic research appropriate to disciplinary conventions.

In particular, the faculty encourages FS instructors to incorporate the following elements into the design of Sophomore Seminar (FS 201):

  • frequent opportunities to speak in class and write each week
  • at least two writing assignments that include the possibility of revision and require presentation standards that are consistent with disciplinary norms
  • at least two speech assignments (5+ minutes) that include outline development and require presentation standards that are consistent with disciplinary norms
  • disciplinary research or content development as a substantial part of at least one of the writing and at least one of the speech assignments.

Updated August 2016.