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The First-Year Program

The First-Year Program is an innovative educational experience required of all new students and comprised of three curricular elements: (1) Inquiry 111; (2) Writing; and (3) Oral Communication. These courses provide a common educational experience for first-year students and are the centerpiece of liberal learning at Westminster.

 

Inquiry 111


Inquiry 111 comprises a semester-long course of study designed to confront and engage students. The faculty have identified three outcomes and objectives for this course:

  1. Articulate and practice the values and methods of a liberal arts education. To accomplish outcome #1, the course should provide students with the opportunity to:


    1. study classical and contemporary liberal arts practices and theories;
    2. recognize the greater expectations associated with college-level work and develop appropriate critical thinking and information literacy skills;
    3. evaluate moral and ethical responsibilities they have to various communities as a result of their education.
  2. Engage, experience and explain different ways of knowing. To accomplish outcome #2, the course should provide students with the opportunity to:


    1. examine and compare each of the Intellectual Perspectives as ways of knowing;
    2. recognize and respect different world views;
    3. challenge their own assumptions to promote inquiry and intellectual growth.
  3. Pursue interdisciplinary study and discussion of important issues. To accomplish outcome #3, the course should provide students with the opportunity to:


    1. investigate and discuss significant or controversial issues from multiple cultural and intellectual perspectives;
    2. engage diverse views of common readings and issues;
    3. participate in an active learning community sharing a first-year experience.

 

Inquiry 103


Inquiry 103 is designed specifically for Lifelong Learning students to introduce and engage them with questions that have traditionally been at the center of a liberal arts education.

 

Writing


Writing is a valuable and necessary tool for the investigation, exploration, analysis, evaluation and expression of ideas and experiences encountered in Inquiry 111. First-year students receive instruction and practice in essential skills and forms of written expression. The course in writing capitalizes on the substance of the Inquiry courses to motivate learning-specific skills in written expression and to enhance teaching and learning in Inquiry. WRI 111 or an approved equivalent is required of all first-year students. Students must earn a grade of C- or better in order to meet this requirement.

 

Oral Communication


Like writing, the mastery of oral expression skills is essential for success in college, a vocation, and throughout life. The first-year course in oral communication provides a basic grounding in these skills. Oral communication capitalizes on the substance of the Inquiry courses to motivate learning-specific skills in oral expression, and to enhance teaching and learning in Inquiry. SPE 111 or an approved equivalent is required of all first-year students.