FSEM Showcase

Happy 10th Anniversary, FSEM!


August 17, 2018. 1:00-4:00 PM
Lunch available at 12:30 PM
Allen Hall

Stetson University celebrated 10 years of offering first year seminars as part of its curriculum with a celebration workshop.

By the end of the workshop, participants will be able to:

  1. Recognize and appreciate the history and visionary nature of the FSEM program
  2. Articulate the place of FSEM in the Stetson Core Curriculum
  3. Identify available resources for students, and resources and mentoring support for instructional faculty
  4. Use tips and strategies emerging during the mentoring session by  seasoned faculty for newish/newer FSEM instructors

Provost Painter welcomed 40+ FSEM instructors at Stetson University during the kick-off the workshop of the FSEM 10th Year of Celebration.

Introduce new FSEM Coordinator
Longstanding professor of economics, Ranjini Thaver, was enthusiastically welcomed as the new FSEM coordinator by Megan O’Neill, associate professor of English, director of the Writing Program,  and new director of the Core Academic Experience.

As coordinator, Dr. Thaver will present the FSEM as the first of three core learning experiences; collaborate with diverse campus constituencies to ensure best experiences by students; provide professional development around first-year student transition and best practice in learning that attracts Stetson’s top instructors; and work with FSEM administrative staff support personnel to provide administrative oversight of the FSEM Program.

Welcome, Ranjini!

Dr. O’Neill will provide clear vision, leadership and administrative oversight of Stetson’s core academic experience- FSEM/JSEM/Senior Project with Writing as the linchpin – that communicates Stetson’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. She will collaborate with academic leaders at Stetson and beyond to ensure and provide purposeful pathways for the core learning sequence, coherence of learning outcomes, and intentional scaffolding across curricula.

Welcome, Megan!

During the introductory remarks, FSEM instructors raised several questions about the definition of the core academic experience, FSEM’s relationship to senior project,  and resources to support FSEM.

Tenth Year Celebration and Recognition: The First Annual Spirit of FSEM Award!
The inaugural Spirit of FSEM Awards recognized FSEM instructors who made significant contributions to the program. Gregg Sapp and Phil Lucas, professors of religious studies were the  2018 award recipients.

Dr. Sapp was recognized for his pioneering role in bringing the FSEM concept to Stetson’s curriculum.

Dr. Lucas was recognized for his significant contribution as FSEM coordinator.

The place of FSEM in the Stetson Core Curriculum
Workshop facilitators discussed where FSEM’s learning outcomes scaffold from developing to matery across the common learning experiences in the Stetson curriculum.

Reminder of student learning goals and introduce some changes
First Year Seminars have the following goals:

  • to provide courses exclusively for first-year students
  • to improve writing skills by focusing on writing in a range of genres within a particular field of study and in ways that emphasize clarity, coherence, intellectual force and stylistic control
  • to introduce students to the excitement of studying and interpreting primary sources
  • to enhance students’ abilities to read and think critically
  • to instill, through practice, the ability to express themselves cogently
  • to enhance students’ ability to communicate their ideas in professional oral presentations

and the following learning objectives:

  • ability to compose and revise written texts that employ an appropriate voice to coherently express relationships between ideas from multiple sources, illustrating awareness of rhetorical context and purpose
  • using technology as appropriate, the ability to know when there is a need for information and are able to locate, evaluate, and effectively and responsibly use that information for the task at hand
  • ability to speak in an understandable, organized, and audience-appropriate fashion to explain ideas, express feelings, or support a conclusion
  • having identified a topic of inquiry and gathered relevant data, the ability to synthesize and evaluate those data to reach an appropriate conclusion or conclusions
  • ability to analyze an issue or phenomenon in ways that go beyond a single paradigm


Refresh on May workshop accomplishments and ongoing questions for new leadership
Dr. O’Neill highlighted accomplishments achieved since the May 10 , 2018 FSEM Workshop which focused on recommendations  for the future of the FSEM Program.

  • Recommendation #1: Present the FSEM as the first of three core learning experiences
  • Recommendation #2: Establish FSEM Leadership Team
  • Recommendation #3: Create a tiered faculty development model
  • Recommendation #4: Establish faculty role in FOCUS planning
  • Recommendation #5: Foster environment that attracts our top faculty
  • Recommendation #6: Revise General Learning Outcomes: Remove GLO 8.1


Several FSEM resources were highlighted during the workshop:

Tiered faculty development
During this session, fashioned in the spirit of a tiered faculty development model, new/newish FSEM instructors were mentored by seasoned faculty on approaches to FSEM, how to address concerns and challenges, and share  innovative ideas. Discussion primers included:

  • Ways to make the first week of classes count
  • What has worked and what has not worked over the years for you
  • Ways you have changed your learning environment with the changing student body
  • That which is constant in your class and that which is constantly in flux
  • The role of teaching apprentices (TAs) in your class
  • A notable component of your syllabus, such as your writing, speaking, or critical thinking, assignments
  • Anything else that you deem would engage newer FSEM faculty in some meaningful way



Julia Metzker, executive director of the Brown Center for Faculty Innovation and Excellence, facilitated a timeline activity for participants to populate with significant FSEM events. To prime participants for this activity, Dr, Metzker requested instructors to recall events in their history with FSEM that they considered significant, such as courses they taught, workshops they attended, cool things students did, etc.  Participants identified some interesting FSEM milestones:

  • 2006 –  FSEM concept introduced by Gregg Sapp
  • 2009 – Writing and Information Literacy learning outcomes assesssed
  • 2009 –  David Musser begins service as FSEM coordinator
  • 2010 – 34 FSEMs sections taught
  • 2011 – Phillip Lucas begins service as FSEM coordinator
  • 2011 – number of students enrolled in FSEM since inception crosses 1,000
  • 2013John Pearson begins service as FSEM coordinator
  • 2015 – Maria Rickling begins service as FSEM coordinator
  • 2017 – Rosalie Richards begins service as interim FSEM coordinator
  • 2017 – 54 FSEM sections taught
  • 2018Ranjini Thaver begins service as FSEM coordinator
  • 2018 – 163 unique FSEMs taught by 146 unique instructors since inception

The timeline extended to 2023 to establish new grounds for creating five year outcomes for the FSEM of the future. The timeline will be available at future workshops and brown bags. Over the course of the year, instructors will vignettes to add to the timeline in celebration of the 10th anniversary of FSEM.

Send additional vignettes to [email protected]

A first year seminars catalog  showcasing courses offered during academic year 2009-2010, the first year FSEMs were officially offered, was also circulated.

The workshop concluded with cupcakes to recognize 10 years of FSEM at Stetson University.



FSEM Showcase

First annual Spirit of FSEM Awards Announced

The new Spirit of FSEM Awards recognizes FSEM instructors and stakeholders who make significant contributions to the FSEM Program at Stetson.

Phillip Lucas, professor of religious studies, receives Stetson’s first Spirit of FSEM Award. Lucas served as FSEM coordinator 2011-2013.

Gregory Sapp, professor of religious studies, receives Stetson’s first Spirit of FSEM Award. Sapp served a significant role in bringing the FSEM concept to Stetson’s curriculum.

Announcements Writing

Writing Center Information for Fall 2018

Dear colleagues,
As you put the finishing touches on your syllabi for the upcoming semester, I wanted to send you some useful information about the resources at the Writing Center.

1) We will open on a limited schedule during FOCUS week, Mon, Aug 20 to Wed, Aug 22, from 6 pm to 9 pm. On Thursday, August 23 we begin our regular hours for the semester.

Here are the hours for Fall 2018:

Monday to Thursday: Noon–10 p.m.
Friday: Noon–3 p.m.
Sunday: 3 p.m.–6 p.m.

2) Tutors are available to visit your classes for a 15-20 minute presentation about the services offered at the Writing Center. It’s a great opportunity for your students to meet a tutor and learn more about what happens during a tutoring session. Email me ([email protected]) to schedule a visit.

3) I’ve attached a brief description that explains what students can expect when they visit the Writing Center. Feel free to copy and paste it into your syllabus.

I’m looking forward to working with your students this semester!

Leigh Ann

Leigh Ann Dunning
Writing Center Director
Assistant Director of the Writing Program
Stetson University
DeLand, FL 32723