Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Faculty removes FYI-102 class requirement

Beginning next year, Augustana College’s First-Year-inquiry (FYI) program will undergo a curricular change that will remove FYI-102 from the required first-year curriculum.  

On Oct. 4, 2023, Augustana faculty voted to remove the FYI-102 course, which will take effect during the 2024-2025 academic year. According to Greg Domski, associate dean of academic affairs, this course change will not change any graduation requirements for current students.   

“One of the things that Augustana really strives for is to assess the effectiveness of everything we do,” Domski said. “We asked, ‘is [the current first-year program] meeting all of the things we want our students to learn and gain from this?’” 

Augustana’s current First-Year program consists of two semester-long courses, the first serving to develop critical writing skills and the second allowing students to apply these skills to various topics of their choice. With the new program change, faculty will take the best elements of both First-Year courses and condense them into one semester-long course. 

Farah Marklevits, Augustana’s first-year coordinator, said this new program will help First-Year students develop stronger reading, writing and research skills.   

“I think there’s going to be a clarification of what we want students to learn,” Marklevits said. “We’ll look at the outcomes that we want students to have after their First-Year course and then work back from there.” 

Instead of teaching a general course, the new First-Year program will allow students to explore topics of their interests and develop their own questions alongside faculty. This element of the new program is similar to FYI-102, which was more popular among faculty. Brian Leech, professor of history and faculty council chair-elect, recognized that most faculty enjoyed teaching FYI-102 more than its counterpart.  

“Frankly, [the new program] will be more exciting, so more faculty will want to teach it,” Leech said. “As a department chair, I sometimes struggle to get enough people to teach FYI.” 

Both students and faculty recognize inconsistencies and faults in the current First-Year curriculum. Students interviewed in spring 2023 expressed frustrations that different faculty members struggled to hone in on specific topics during the first semester, according to Marklevits. The new First-Year program seeks to eliminate those inconsistencies. 

“Ideally, if we had unlimited resources and time to be thoughtful about what we’re doing in our classes, we would be able to make those experiences more consistent,” Marklevits said. “I don’t think students should learn exactly the same thing in every section of these courses, but I don’t think that any student should experience inconsistencies.”  

Most faculty members ultimately agree that this is a needed change for the first-year program. Dianna Shandy, provost and vice president of academic affairs, said the faculty vote was “a bit of a landslide.” 

“I think people see the need for a fresh version of this,” Shandy said. “You know, it’s almost like getting your house in order. As we look, you have to make space for new things. You can’t just keep adding on.”

In addition to the new curricular change, ideas about future writing courses beyond the First-Year program are being proposed among faculty members. These courses will aim to continue to help students develop their writing skills, especially those needed within their major.

By reworking the First-Year curriculum and possibly adding future courses, Augustana College staff believe that students will ultimately become stronger, smarter writers.

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