About First Year Seminar

"Drake University is a community of learners."
Drake 2010: A Strategic Vision

A First Year Seminar:

  • Helps integrate first-year students into academic culture.
  • Sharpens students' writing, critical thinking, verbal communication and information literacy.
  • Focuses on a topic, approach or theme.
  • Encourages active participation by students in class.
  • Focuses on ways of knowing as well as content.
  • Invites connections among several areas of study or disciplines.
  • Aims to establish a sense of community among members.


First Year Seminar Writing:
The First Year Seminar should offer a writing-intensive experience for students. Typically, this will involve a series of short writing assignments beginning early in the term and totaling at least 20 pages in length. The instructor should provide substantive feedback and students should be allowed an opportunity for correction and revision on at least some assignments.

First Year Seminar Critical Thinking:

The First Year Seminar will focus on the development of student’s critical thinking skills. This is part of the Drake Curriculum’s intentional effort to guide students to acquire the skills for rational analysis and argumentation that is purposeful, rigorous, self-reflective, and based on a careful consideration of evidence. Students will learn to:

  • clearly define a question or problem.
  • gather information that is relevant to that problem.
  • rigorously identify assumptions and preconceptions, including their own, that influence analysis of that problem.
  • organize and prioritize the information to develop a rational argument that states a clear claim or thesis, provides reasons for holding that claim, provides relevant evidence to support each reason, and considers alternative explanations in reaching a conclusion.
  • communicate that reasoned argument effectively in speech, writing, or other medium as appropriated.
  • realize that results are tentative and open to revision.

A Note about Learning Communities and Debating Democracy:

Our FYS classes are structured as learning communities, where students enrolled in the class, to the extent possible, live together on a single floor in an on-campus residence hall.  These Learning Communities help to connect students both socially and intellectually.  One particular FYS adds a second distinctive element. In FYS025 - American Dreams - students are enrolled in a second linked course, a special section of POLS001, that is designed to complement their FYS section.

In addition the FYS 010 section - The Power of Tradition, The Forces of Change - will feature a unique format. These classes will center on role-playing simulations in which students recreate historical episodes of democratic deliberation at crucial moments in history.

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University News
July 15, 2014
Three Drake alumnae were honored in the Des Moines Business Record’s 2014 Women of Influence awards. The awards celebrate women who have made a difference in their community.
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