As part of its continuing commitment to student learning and success, Shepherd University has adopted the LEAP (Liberal Education America’s Promise) outcomes developed by the American Association of Colleges and Universities (www.aacu.org/leap/vision.cfm), of which Shepherd University is a member. These essential learning outcomes provide a new framework to guide students’ cumulative progress through college. The aim of these LEAP Intended Student Outcomes is for students to develop these skills at continuing and successively higher levels across their college studies, thereby preparing students for the 21st century.
Goal No. 1: Knowledge of Human Cultures and the Physical and Natural World
- Acquire knowledge in the sciences and mathematics, social sciences, humanities, history, languages, and the arts through progressively more challenging problems, projects, and standards for performance
- Engage in both contemporary and enduring questions
Goal No. 2: Intellectual and Practical Skills throughout the Curriculum
- Engage in inquiry and analysis
- Demonstrate abilities in critical and creative thinking
- Effectively communicate, in both oral and written English
- Acquire quantitative and information literacy
- Demonstrate a capacity for collaboration/teamwork and problem solving
- Integrate the foundations and the skills for lifelong learning and wellness
Goal No. 3: Personal and Social Responsibility
- Develop civic knowledge and civic engagement
- Develop global understanding and respect for cultures and societies outside of the United States
- Demonstrate understanding of multiculturalism and sensitivity to issues of diversity
- Practice professional ethics and ethical reasoning
Goal No. 4: Integrative Learning
- Demonstrate a synthesis of, and advanced accomplishment across, general and specialized studies through a capstone experience in the chosen discipline
These intended student outcomes will be achieved through many pathways and many choices within each requirement, including experiential learning, beginning with a first-year experience and concluding with a capstone, integrated where possible within the major and assessed in accordance with LEAP goals.
Starting a university education is an exciting time. It’s a time when your social sphere widens, interests deepen, and the challenges of keeping up with everything become even greater. During this transitional time, you can find it rewarding (and relaxing) to cultivate supportive groups and activities that will help ease the transition and promote academic success. With this in mind, Shepherd has created an innovative program of First-Year Experience courses and activities. These courses and activities offer creative ways to help you acclimate to university life, integrate into the campus community, and enjoy academic success.
Core Curriculum Requirement
A first-year experience class is a core curriculum requirement for all first-year students. These courses are designed to help you transition into the university community of scholars and become a successful lifelong learner. The first-year experience requirement may be filled by taking one of the following courses:
- FYEX 101 - Freshman Seminar
- FYEX 102 - Interest Group
- Philosophy 100 - Introduction to Liberal Arts Study (required for provisional students)
- Departmental First-Year Experience Course* or a course (if offered) in the major that has been designated as fulfilling first-year experience core-curriculum competencies
*Summer advisors will guide students as to which first-year experience option is most appropriate for them. Please note that some students (provisional admits) will be required to take both Philosophy 100 and a first-year experience course designated in their chosen major. NCAA athletes are required to take both ATHC 100 and the appropriate first-year experience course(s). First-year SSS TRiO students are required to take both Philosophy 100 for TRiO students and a first-year experience course designated in their chosen major if applicable. Transfer students are recommended to take the FYEX 102 course Learning the Shepherd Way. It is also recommended that incoming first-year students who are undecided on a major (Exploratory) take a special FYEX 101 designated for Exploratory majors.
Descriptions of Courses Offered Within the First-Year Experience Program
Freshman Seminar - FYEX 101. The purpose of these one-credit courses is to integrate you into the life and culture of Shepherd University and to prepare you with the foundations for academic success. The course addresses the core curriculum competencies of wellness, information literacy, and experiential learning. A text and a copy of the Shepherd University Common Reading are required.
Interest Groups - FYEX 102. This one-credit course is centered on a common interest shared by a faculty or staff person and the students enrolled in the course (examples include scrapbooking, cooking, hiking). You will sign up for an interest group section of your choice. Together, you and the other students, your instructor, and a peer educator will explore the interest as well as discuss survival skills that will help you move smoothly through your courses, the university system, and your new social life. The course will have a concluding celebration that includes all the interest group classes. In addition to active participatory experiences that enhance learning, you will complete a wellness activity and an information literacy activity. A copy of the Shepherd University Common Reading is required.
Introduction to Liberal Arts Study - Philosophy 100. This 3-credit course prepares you for a successful academic career through the cultivation of valued skills in the liberal arts such as critical reading and analysis; writing and discussion; and argument and debate. You will be exposed to a series of readings, compiled by the course faculty, that deal with a range of diverse creative, intellectual, and ethical ideas. You will also be introduced to many helpful campus resources as well as university transition strategies such as time management, study skills, information literacy, note-taking, technology usage, and test anxiety coping skills. A copy of the Shepherd University Common Reading is required. This course is required for and limited to provisionally admitted students only.
Additional Opportunities in the First Year:
Learning Communities. Learning Communities provide you with an interdisciplinary approach to learning core curriculum course material. Subject matter is interrelated and reinforced in both courses, deepening your understanding of the subjects and their interconnectedness. Professors work collaboratively on the course requirements. In some cases, they team-teach and are involved in all aspects of the courses, while other times they work together outside of the classroom to link course material. Relevant field trips are often part of the learning community experience. Credits are awarded based on credits assigned to each course in the learning community. You must enroll in both of the linked courses.
Common Reading. Every year a book is voted upon and chosen by the university community to be read, studied, and explored together. Themes from the book will be used to develop programs throughout the year featuring movies, panel discussions, faculty forums, art exhibits, and essay contests, all meant to enhance appreciation and knowledge of the text. Many courses incorporate the book into their syllabi and attendance at Common Reading events is encouraged. All events, except dinners, are free.
Learning is a core value at our institution and finding ways to improve learning is a continual process.
The university can derive many benefits from integrating a campus-wide assessment program. Academic departments have the opportunity to take a step back and reflect on what the mission is, and what a graduate from that major will know, value, and be able to do. Students will find it very helpful to know the goals of the major and how each course in the program relates to those goals. Faculty will also be able to use the assessment results to determine if program goals are being met. If particular goals are not being met, faculty will have specific evidence concerning what curricular changes need to be made to improve student attainment of program goals. Academic support services, such as the library, student affairs, academic advisement, and financial aid, also make a tremendous contribution to student learning on campus. Thus, all programs can–and do–assess how they contribute to the learning environment and what changes they might make to maximize that learning experience.
Participation in Assessment Activities: Shepherd University REQUIRES student participation in assessment tests and surveys. The results enable the university to monitor its programs and services, to assist students in fulfilling their academic goals, and to fulfill reporting requirements to accrediting and government agencies. The assessment task force and the dean of teaching, learning and instructional resources oversee development and reporting of assessment activities. Both academic and administrative departments throughout the university will require student input about their functions from time to time.
Students will be notified in writing via email when they are expected to participate in university-wide assessments. It is important for students to continually monitor their Shepherd email account. Annual university-wide assessments include the Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA), the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE), the Student Readiness Inventory (SRI), the Noel-Levitz Student Satisfaction Inventory, and the Measure of Academic Progress and Proficiency (MAPP). All of these national assessments require a random sample of university students. It is not unlikely that a student may be selected more than once to take these assessments during his/her time at Shepherd University. In addition, each department and program conducts its own assessments of student learning. Many academic departments use major field tests (MFTs). Generally these assessments can be completed in a modest period of time.
Failure to participate when required or any violation of the assessment or testing procedure can result in administrative action including withholding of transcripts and/or restriction from registration until the requirements are met.