Intellectual Curiosity

First-Year Seminars cultivate intellectual curiosity.

Students who are curious ask questions, explore topics, and value learning for its own sake.  Intellectually curious students want to know how and why the world works as it does; they are not afraid to challenge themselves or others with new ideas and experiences.  Regardless of what they know or don’t know, they want to understand.

​Intellectual curiosity is also a key predictor of academic success and one of the top traits employers value. In a rapidly changing world, those who are willing to explore alternatives and continue learning will be most able to adapt and innovate.​

Faculty can cultivate intellectual curiosity by modeling it themselves, using a mix of mediums and pedagogies, and challenging students to stretch intellectually. Asking students to approach texts and problems in novel ways, to reflect on other points of view, to step out of their comfort zones, to undertake active forms of learning, or to work on projects of their choice can all stimulate intellectual curiosity. How does your FY seminar cultivate (and reward) curiosity?  

 Additional Readings: 

  • Dan Berrett, “Intellectual Curiosity Predicts Academic Success, Study Finds,” The Chronicle of Higher Education, October 27, 2011.
  • “How to Hire Curious People and Keep Curiosity Alive,” Forbes, February 6, 2014; and “Top Five Personality Traits Employers Hire Most,” Forbes, October 4, 2012.
  • Ellen Hulme, Daniel T. Green, Kimberly S. Ladd, “Fostering Student Engagement by Cultivating Curiosity,” in New Directions for Student Services 143 (Fall 2013, Wiley Publications).
  • Maryellen Weiner, “Cultivating Curiosity in our Students as a Catalyst for Learning,” Faculty Focus, September 19, 2012.