Writing in the First-Year Seminar

Most first-year students take a first-year seminar in the fall of their first year.  The FYS satisfies the W1 requirement and also establishes a link with a member of the faculty who serves as the student’s advisor until the student declares a “Major Plus Two” in winter of the sophomore year.

Begun in 1976, first-year seminars are small classes limited to first-year students, which emphasize writing, reasoning, active student participation, and research.  First-year seminars focus on a broad range of issues and large questions within the tradition of the liberal arts and sciences.  All first-year seminars fulfill the W1; a few also satisfy S, L, or Q requirements and in some cases count toward the major.

Faculty proposing first-year seminars should complete a course proposal on the Garnet Gateway and a W1 Guidelines form by January 15.

For help in designing your W1 and first-year seminar, contact Hillory Oakes, Director of Writing, at hoakes@bates.edu.


W1 Writing Goals Form (PDF)


Resources and Support for W1

Planning and writing:

For support as you think about a first-year seminar or other W1 course and plan its syllabi and assignments, please contact Hillory Oakes, Director of Writing, at hoakes@bates.edu or #6160.

As you plan your W1 course, keep in mind numerous resources available to you for your teaching and to students for their writing:

1. Syllabus colloquium: In conjunction with the June and August first-year seminar faculty workshops (described below), faculty have the opportunity to meet in small, facilitated groups to get feedback on the schedule and sequencing of their FYS syllabi.
2. One-to-one feedback on syllabi and assignments: Prior to each semester and throughout the academic term, the Director of Writing holds open office hours to meet with individual faculty to discuss syllabi, assignments, and teaching strategies for any writing-attentive course.
3. In-class workshops: Library staff and Writing at Bates professionals can work with you to schedule sessions for your students covering any aspect of the writing or research process; contact Laura Juraska or Hillory Oakes for more information.
4. Peer Writing Assistants: Each first-year seminar or other W1 course is supported by an attached writing assistant, a peer tutor familiar with the course material and trained to give students constructive feedback on writing and oral communication assignments.
5.Numerous workshops about writing, Lyceum and other resources offered throughout the year.

A helpful resource is Katherine Gottschalk and Keith Hjortshoj’s The Elements of Teaching Writing: A Resource for Instructors in All Disciplines (Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2004).  Contact Hillory Oakes for your copy.

Faculty Workshops:
To support the teaching and advising objectives of first-year seminars and W1, the Dean of Faculty’s Office sponsors four collaborative sessions per year for all First-Year Seminar instructors (typically in early June, late August, October and January).

The Director of Writing leads a series of pedagogy seminars during Short Term and a shorter pedagogy workshop before the beginning of the fall semester.

Support for Students:
The Peer Writing Program provides trained attached writing assistants to first-year seminars and other writing [W] courses and staffs a drop-in center in Ladd Library.  Professional writing staff are also available for individual conferences and small-group workshops.

For more about writing resources see http://www.bates.edu/writing.xml.

Community-based Learning:
The Harward center for Community Partnerships is an important resources if you are considering  including a community-based learning component in your first-year seminar or other W1.  Community-based learning can be an enriching experience and an effective pedagogy to further many of the goals articulated for the seminars. We encourage you to consider the possibilities of integrating academic service leaning within your course proposal. Please contact the Harward Center for Community Partnerships (207-786-6202) for advice and answers to any questions you may have.

First-Year Seminar and Writing Committee:
If you have any questions about any aspect of the first-year seminar program or writing courses, please feel free to contact any member of the First-Year Seminar and Writing Committee, which is charged with oversight of writing in the curriculum. The committee list is at http://www.bates.edu/dof/governance-and-policies/committees/faculty-elected-appointed-committee-roster/