Cumberland University

FSL 101

Fall course, 2 credit hours


The purpose of this course is to enable first-year students to make the academic transitions necessary and essential to succeed and thrive in college. Students will be introduced to and practice living the values of the academic community of CUmberland University. This course is different from many other academic courses in that its focus is on the learner and that person taking the responsibility to develop new habits of mind and heart. These new habits include: effective time management, engagement witht he campus community and resources, active reading, intellectual curiosity, the art of reflection, information and research literacy, academic integrity, thinking critically, valuing diversity, and charting one's future. Each of the assignments is designed for students to practice these habits, get the support they need, and explore new ways of seeing themselves. This course exists as a General Education Core (GEC) requirement, which means that is is considered core knowledge that every student must have to be educated at this institution.

First-Year Courses Nationally

  • According to a 2009 survey conducted by the National Resource Center for the First-Year Experience and Students in Transition 85%, or 875 colleges and universities, had a first-year course focused on academic and social transition to college.
  • The growing trend is toward hybrid models of first-year courses that both introduce students to campus resources and focus academically on student learning outcomes like critical thinking.
  • Even highly selective universities like Harvard and large public universities like Penn State offer first-year seminar courses taught by senior faculty.

Experiential Learning

Given the purpose of the Foundations of Scholarship and Learning course, Practicing effective academic behaviors is essential. This is why the course is designed to engage active learning through experiential activities, simulations, role plays, dialogues, debates and interactive presentation of material. Experience faculty or staff along with two peer mentors teach and facilitate each of the 10 sections of FSL each Fall. The goal of this teaching method is to get students actively engaged in learning, reflection, and deeper levels on inquiry.

  • In fall 2011, a group of students enrolled in FSL engaged in a a dialogue with author of the iRead selection, Power Trip, Amanda Little. Little spoke at a university-wide event later that day, but these students were able to ask her about her research on energy consumption, her motivations and her aspirations in writing and research. 
  • As a part of the FSL course, 6 faculty members, 4 staff, and 15 peer mentors took nearly 200 freshmen to serve in 9 agencies in downtown Nashville on November 16th, 2011. Some agencies were: 2nd Harvest Food Bank, Downtown Rescue Mission, Salvation Army Angel Tree Program, and Room in the Inn. In their reflection papers not he service day, students made connections between the multi-faceted concept of diversity and what they were doing to help those in need.

FSL 101 Student Learning Outcomes

  1. Identify the function and use of recommended university support services (Academic Enrichment Center, Counseling Center, and Career and Internship Services). 
  2. Effectively apply academic library research resources through basic proficiency in information literacy: demonstrating understanding of the research process and using library resources.
  3. Identify and demonstrate time management skills and gain a stronger internal locus of control.
  4. Demonstrate effective note taking and active reading abilities. Increase formal and informal interaction with faculty and identify faculty academic expectations.
  5. Increase formal and informal interaction with faculty and identify faculty academic expectations.
  6. Apply methods of reflection on out-of-class experiences and co-curricular activities.
  7. Develop a deeper empathetic appreciation and awareness of diversity issues.
  8. Demonstrate basic critical thinking abilities through analyzing and constructing arguments.