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The First-Year Program

The First-Year Program is an integrated educational experience comprised of three curricular elements in which all new students enroll. Its components are:

  1. Inquiry (INQ 111 – Introduction to a Liberal Arts Education)
  2. Writing (WRI 111 – Writing)
  3. Oral Communication (SPE 111 – Introduction to Public Communications)
  4. Wellness (PE 101 – Wellness)

INQUIRY – INQ 111 (Introduction to a Liberal Arts Education) is a four semester hour course designed to introduce students to the life of the mind and engage them in liberal learning. All first-time, full-time college students who enter Westminster College in fall semester and who are less than one academic year from their high school graduation will register for INQ 111 in their first semester. INQ 211 is a course with outcomes and objectives similar to Inquiry 111, but is designed for students who have more college or life experience than traditional first-year students, including transfer students with 34 or fewer credit hours accepted for Westminster credit, students who are more than one academic year from their high school graduation, and students who begin their Westminster College experience in the spring semester.

The faculty have identified three outcomes and a series of objectives for all iterations of the Inquiry course:

  1. Articulate and practice the values and methods of a liberal arts education. To accomplish outcome #1, the course provides 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 provides 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 provides 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.

 

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 course 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 course 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. Students must earn a grade of C- or better in order to meet this requirement.