New College Core!

March 12, 2018

By Elizabeth Abrams, Council of Provosts Chair, Merrill College Provost, and Writing Program Senior Lecturer with Security of Employment 

Come fall 2018, all incoming frosh will enroll in a newly redesigned college Core course, Academic Literacy and Ethos, known collectively as “College 1.” College 1 introduces students to critical and analytical reading at the university level and helps them understand what it means to be a member of a scholarly community. Most students will go on to take at least one writing course: together, the reading-and-then-writing sequence is called the Academic Literacy Curriculum. College 1 offers all students a foundation for intellectual exploration and personal development as members of an academic community. It teaches reading and thinking processes essential to success at the university, and “habits of mind” that demystify academic work and promote independent, self-reflective, and collaborative participation in campus culture. It focuses on Analysis, Critical thinking, Metacognition, Engagement with others across difference, and Self-efficacy--“ACMES” for short.

Though every college Core course shares these features, each is distinctive from all others by also including assigned course materials meant to introduce students to the intellectual traditions of the individual colleges. Thus, Porter students will continue to read about the arts, Rachel Carson students will continue to read about the environment, and College Nine students will continue to read about global citizenship.

Critically, unlike the courses it is replacing, College 1 will not “track” students according to their writing competency, a feature that had inadvertently contributed to segregation among students. The new course, instead, educates all students together, an ideal that is also a centerpiece of the course goals: engagement with others across difference.

College 1’s combination of properties--its focus on academic reading and critical thinking prior to academic writing; its refusal to track students; its developing of students’ sense of belonging and ethos--is forward-thinking and breaks new ground among colleges and universities that provide a “first-year experience.”

March 2018 Newsletter