FYS Resources for Students & Instructors

[Instructors: please Click Here]

Students and Their First Year

The transition to college can be an exciting time. It can also be a challenging time. We would like to use the space here to introduce students to some of the major resources on campus for students seeking to build community, participate in extra curricular activities, or deal with specific problems or difficulties that they face during their first year at Rensselaer. This is by no mean an exhaustive list, and any of the offices referred to below can provide you with additional information and guidance about resources available to students at Rensselaer.

Office of the First-Year Experience
Troy 4042, (518) 276-6864 / fye@rpi.edu.

Advising and Learning Assistance Center
Sage 2106, (518) 276-6269,

HASS Core Curriculum Advisor
Elizabeth Large, Director of Student Services, HASS
Sage 5208, 276-2576 / largee@rpi.edu.

Student Life and Services
stu-life@rpi.edu

The Writing Center
Sage 4508, (518) 276-8983 / writingcenter@rpi.edu.

Office of the Dean of Students
4F Troy Building, (518) 276-6266 / doso@rpi.edu.

You should also feel free to write to the First Year Studies Program's director of pedagogy, Julie Gutmann, at gutmaj@rpi.edu.

Resources for Instructors in the First Year Studies Program
The First Year Studies Program will continue to develop this section into a more extensive resource for instructors interested in teaching first year students, and in undergraduate pedagogy more generally. Those intersted in creating a new first year studies course should make sure to consult the section entitled "Guidelines for Creating A New First Year Studies Course" below.

References on Undergraduate Teaching
The following books are made available as references for all instructors and teaching assistants in the H&SS First Year Studies program. The books are held by our director of pedagogy, Julie Gutmann (gutmaj@rpi.edu), and may be borrowed for a period of two weeks. You may reach her in her office at Sage 4408. Feel free to contact Dr. Gutmann if you are a FYS instructor and have any difficulty locating appropriate sources on undergraduate teaching.

  1. Pedagogy (General)
  2. Being an Educator
  3. Education & Social Difference
  4. Topics & Issues
    1. Media & Representation
    2. Community
  5. Skills & Techniques
    1. Writing
  6. Assessment

FYS Pedagogic Training Sessions and Programs

  1. FYS Summer Seminar
  2. Brownbag Pedagogy Sessions (Fall semesters only)
    1. This year's pedagogy brownbag schedule
  3. TA Certification Program

Guidelines for Creating a New First Year Studies Course


References on Undergraduate Teaching

1. Pedagogy (General)

Pedagogy of the Oppressed
by Paulo Freire, Myra Bergman Ramos (Translator), Donaldo P. Macedo (Introduction)

Critical Teaching and Everyday Life
by Ira Shor

Democracy And Education
by John Dewey (Author)

Expanding the Boundaries of Transformative Learning: Essays on Theory and Praxis
by Mary Ann O'Connor (Editor), Edmund V. O'Sullivan (Editor), Amish Morrell (Editor)

2. Being an Educator

2a. Teaching and Careers

Teachers As Cultural Workers: Letters to Those Who Dare Teach (Edge. Critical Studies in Educational Theory)
by Paulo Freire, Donaldo MacEdo (Translator), Dale Koike (Translator), Alexandre Oliveira (Translator), Dake Koike (Translator)

2b. Teaching as Self Emergence

To Know as We Are Known: Education as a Spiritual Journey
by Parker J. Palmer (Author)

The Courage to Teach : Exploring the Inner Landscape of a Teacher's Life
by Parker J. Palmer (Author)

2c. Learning to Teach

The Innovation Paradox : The Success of Failure, the Failure of Success
by Richard Farson (Author), Ralph Keyes (Author)

One Continuous Mistake: Four Noble Truths for Writers
by Gail Sher

(See also "Scholarship of Teaching and Learning" below.)

3. Education & Social Difference

3a. Pedagogy & Social Change

Pedagogy of the Oppressed
by Paulo Freire, Myra Bergman Ramos (Translator), Donaldo P. Macedo (Introduction)

Pedagogy of Freedom: Ethics, Democracy, and Civic Courage
by Paulo Freire, Patrick Clarke (Translator), Donaldo P. Macedo

Democracy And Education
by John Dewey (Author)

Teaching to Transgress: Education As the Practice of Freedom
by Bell Hooks

3b. Power/Differnce in the Classroom

Getting Smart: Feminist Research and Pedagogy With in the Postmodern
by Patti Lather, Patricia Ann Lather

Feminism Is for Everybody: Passionate Politics
by bell hooks

Teaching to Transgress: Education As the Practice of Freedom
by Bell Hooks

3c. Empowering the Student

Expanding the Boundaries of Transformative Learning: Essays on Theory and Praxis
by Mary Ann O'Connor (Editor), Edmund V. O'Sullivan (Editor), Amish Morrell (Editor)

Empowering Education: Critical Teaching for Social Change
by Ira Shor

When Students Have Power: Negotiating Authority in a Critical Pedagogy
by Ira Shor

4. Topics & Issues

4a. Media & Representation

Representation: Cultural Representations and Signifying Practices (Culture, Media and Identities , Vol 2)
by Stuart Hall (Editor)

4b. Community

Teaching Community: A Pedagogy of Hope
by Bell Hooks

4c. Critical Thinking & Wisdom

Critical Teaching and Everyday Life
by Ira Shor

From Knowledge to Wisdom: A Revolution in the Aims and Methods of Science <not available>
by Nicholas Maxwell

Expanding the Boundaries of Transformative Learning: Essays on Theory and Praxis
by Mary Ann O'Connor (Editor), Edmund V. O'Sullivan (Editor), Amish Morrell (Editor)

5. Skills & Techniques

5a. Writing

Writing With Power: Techniques for Mastering the Writing Process
by Peter Elbow

The Craft of Revision
by Donald Morison Murray

Writing To Learn
by William K. Zinsser (Author)

On Writing Well, 25th Anniversary : The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction
by William K. Zinsser (Author)

OWL
Purdue University Online Writing Lab (OWL)
owl.english.purdue.edu/

Bird by Bird : Some Instructions on Writing and Life
by Anne Lamott (Author)

6. Assessment

6a. Portfolio Based Assessment

The Teaching Portfolio: Capturing the Scholarship in Teaching
Publication by the American Association for Higher Education

The Course Portfolio: How Faculty Can Examine Their Teaching to Advance Practice and Improve Student Learning
AAHE Publication

Campus Use of the Teaching Portfolio: Twenty-Five Profiles
AAHE Publication

Electronic Portfolios: Emerging Practices in Student, Faculty, and Institutional Learning
AAHE Publication

6b. Peer Evaluation

Making Teaching Community Property: A Menu for Peer Collaboration and Peer Review
AAHE Publication

6c. Scholarship of Teaching and Learning

Opening Lines: Approaches to the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning
Pat Hutchings (ed), Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching


FYS Pedagogic Training Sessions and Programs

1. FYS Summer Seminar

Each year, the First Year Studies program conducts a summer instructor's seminar to promote pedagogic training and innovation among FYS faculty and their instructional staff. The seminar also helps build a sense of community among FYS instructors, and to provide us with the opportunity to find fresh new visions for the program.

If you wish to participate in the seminar, please contact the FYS director of pedagogy, Julie Gutmann, at gutmaj@rpi.edu.

Copies of the past workshop programs are as follows:

 

FYS Summer Seminar, May 17 & 18, 2004: Perspectives of the First year Student
FYS Summer Seminar, May 19 & 20, 2003: Diversity and Diverse Perspectives
FYS Summer Seminar, May 21 & 22, 2002: Global Citizenship and Civic Education

A sample video clip from one our meetings may also be found here.

2. Brownbag Pedagogy Sessions (Fall Semesters only)

Starting in AY2003-2004, the FYS Program initiated a Brown Bag Pedagogy Series, directed primarily towards FYS faculty and teaching assistants, but open to the entire H&SS community. These sessions will focus on a range of "standard" pedagogic issues that instructors are likely to face in teaching first year students. They will also focus, at times, on special topics, including those presented by guest speakers. All sessions will be informal and conduted on an impromptu basis.

Standard Topics

  • Beginning a semester
  • Fostering classroom discussion
  • Grading writing assignments
  • Conducting effective team exercises
  • Matching course objectives to course style
  • Bringing closure to a semester
Special Topics (examples)
  • Designing a course syllabus to match pedagogic objectives
  • Effective and ineffective use of classroom technology
  • How to work with teaching assistants
  • Designing an effective grading structure
  • Classroom simulatio

For this year's pedagogy brownbag schedule, click here.

3. TA Certification Program

We are considering extending the present mission of the FYS Program to include general assistance with undergraduate pedagogy within the School of Humanities and Social Sciences. One promising avenue is that of constructing a voluntary, certification program for H&SS TAs who are interested in undergraduate teaching.  (We recognize that the C&M department already has a well developed system in place for their students.)  We believe this kind of certification can augment an academic job candidate's standing with regards to demonstrated commitment to undergraduate teaching and education. Although current plans are still in a formative stage, we envision issuing certificates of basic undergraduate pedagogic training based on such criteria as:

Minimum Requirements for Certification

  • Participation in FYS Summer Seminar (2 seminars)
  • Brownbag Pedagogy Sessions & Special Summer Workshop Sessions
    • Attendance at all standard subjects (6 topics)
    • Attendance at specialized sessions (6 topics)
  • Record of Observed Instruction (6 sessions)

Guidelines for Creating a New First Year Studies Course

During AY 2002-2003, the FYS Faculty Advisory Committee, director, and director of pedagogy produced revised guidelines for new courses to be introduced into the program.  We have tried to put in place very flexible guidelines that simply requires instructors, for the most part, to adopt a "topics" approach that builds a course around a specific issue or theme that would be immediately familiar to first year students, and hence encourage their direct engagement with the course content.  (FYS courses should not be an "Intro to X" type course.)  We also continue to emphasize courses with an interdisciplinary orientation.  There is also a set of pedagogic strategies for the program.  While there is no expectation that any single course will fully incorporate all of these strategies, instructors should feel comfortable with the pedagogic approaches described under the heading of "Philosophy," above.   The information may also be found in the Application Form for New Courses.  In general, however, the uniformity of the program's pedagogic style is sustained through the two-day FYS Summer Seminar (substantial compensation is offered to all participants, including TAs) held in May of each year, as well as the optional Fall pedagogy brownbag sessions where all FYS instructors will have an opportunity to share their teaching experiences and philosophies.

If you are interested in developing a new first year studies course, please contact the director, Atsushi Akera, at akeraa@rpi.edu.