Tenure and tenure-track faculty may teach a one-credit 129 Freshman Seminar. These small, discussion-based classes allow faculty and first-year students to explore a topic of mutual interest. Instructors receive research stipends.
Interested faculty should submit a proposal here. Be sure to check out the frequently asked questions below. For more information please e-mail us or call 865-974-3523.
Do you want to teach a FYS 129 course?
Should I focus on a narrow topic or a broad issue?
Either approach can succeed. What is important is to engage the students in a manner that excites them and encourages their participation. This can be done equally as well in a seminar on the history of the earth, and in a seminar that discusses only one book. A professor could offer a seminar on Bill Bryson’s A Short History of Nearly Everything and accomplish both approaches at the same time.
At what intellectual level should I present the topic of the seminar?
Please keep in mind that all of the participants in your seminar will be first-year students. Many of them will be especially bright and accomplished individuals, but none of them will have experienced college work to a great extent. Try to educate and challenge your students, while nurturing them. Keep in mind that the fundamental goals of this program are to ease the students’ transition to college and to engage them in the life of the mind. The freshman seminar is not a “how to succeed in college” or “best academic practices/study skills” course. However, you will be provided with resources that you can share with struggling students on an as-needed basis.
Are you looking mainly for seminars in the arts and humanities?
No, no, no! We hope that our offerings will reflect the exciting diversity of scholarship at the University of Tennessee, as well as the diversity of interests of our new students.
How much reading and written work should I assign?
Remember that in a one credit course students should not be expected to devote more than 100 minutes to course preparation for every 50 minute session. Remember also that the course is graded on a Satisfactory/No Credit basis. Short written assignments and quizzes are appropriate. It is acceptable to make passing the course largely conditional on regular attendance.
May I take my students on field trips?
Yes, field trips are encouraged, and they do not need to take place during the regularly scheduled seminar meeting time. They should be to venues that are easily accessible to even those students who do not have personal transportation. Going to concerts on campus, attending plays at the Clarence Brown Theatre, or attending events and museums downtown are all possibilities. If you will be taking students off-campus for an activity, we ask you adapt this liability waiver to your seminar’s needs. Have students complete the waiver prior to the off-campus event, making sure to keep a copy for yourself and then send one to First-Year Studies (1817 Melrose Avenue, Attn: Phyliss Shey).
Should I assign a textbook or some other kind(s) of reading?
Textbooks are appropriate, as are novels, newspapers, magazines, and other materials. Ideally, professors will place required readings on Library Reserve. It is the instructor’s responsibility to submit to the library materials for reserve status. Again, when gauging the difficulty of the readings to assign, keep in mind that your students are new to the university.
Who orders textbooks for the seminar?
Professors must order all books for their seminars through their department’s book order process. On the University Bookstore’s “Textbook Request Form” please include the following information:
- Department: First Year Studies
- Department #: 355
- Course #: 129
Before registration begins each semester, we will list the section number of your seminar on our website. To find it, look for the title of your seminar in the list.
Freshman seminars will be assigned to registrar-controlled classrooms. Most of these rooms are designed for “traditional” lecture-style formats. If you would rather have your course in a seminar-style room that is controlled by your department or college, you may do so. However, you will have to work with your room scheduler and then let us know what room you plan to meet in so that the location is listed correctly for students.
How do I make sure that students will enroll in my seminar?
Well, you can’t guarantee that students will enroll, but you can certainly improve the chances. Based on our experience offering freshman seminars, we’ve prepared a few tips that we think may be helpful.
Am I restricted to offering my seminar strictly on a 50 minute, once-a-week basis?
No. To facilitate the widest range of offerings and approaches we accept a wide variety of course meeting times and days. The university minimum is for 700 minutes of class time for one course credit. Please see the memo announcing the program for more details.
May I offer more than one FYS 129 seminar in a single semester?
No. However, you very much are encouraged to offer a seminar in both the fall and spring semesters. Students may enroll in a total of two seminars, but are likewise limited to taking one FYS 129 seminar per semester.
What is the compensation for offering a FYS 129 seminar?
For each seminar offered the professor will receive $1,500 for research support (assuming sufficient enrollment). This amount will be deposited in a departmental fund. The professor has three years to use the fund for activities such as travel to present research, costs of data collection, payment to an undergraduate student who is helping with research, etc. Funds can also be used in support of the FYS 129 seminar. For example, you may want to purchase movies that you show in class.
For seminars in which at least twelve students are enrolled, faculty will receive the full amount of $1,500. If a seminar has fewer than twelve students enrolled, the compensation will be prorated based on the number of enrolled students. Ultimately, it is the professor’s decision whether to accept the prorated amount of compensation for a low-enrollment seminar or cancel it.
Who do I contact for more information?
For more information please e-mail us, or call us at 865-974-3523.