Learning Goals

First-Year Seminar Learning Goals: A Guide for Faculty & Students

First-Year Seminars at Trinity College share several foundational learning goals, all aimed at equipping students with the skills and confidence to succeed academically and thrive personally. Some of the seminars’ learning goals help students to develop meta-cognitive skills (intellectual curiosity, critical thinking, academic habits of mind); others focus on the basic building blocks or core competencies of a liberal arts education (research and analysis, reading, writing, and oral communication); still others convey substantive content and knowledge about a particular topic. In all cases, learning in these small, discussion-rich seminars occurs developmentally, as a semester-long process, and in a supportive community of peers.

Trinity’s First-Year Seminars are designed to be “high-impact” academic activities, described by the National Survey of Student Engagement as practices that “demand considerable time and effort, facilitate learning outside of the classroom, require meaningful interactions with faculty and students, encourage collaboration with diverse others, and provide frequent and substantive feedback. As a result, participation in these practices can be life-changing.” 

More specifically, our first-year seminars have the following broad learning goals:
1. First-Year Seminars cultivate intellectual curiosity;
2. Introduce first-year students to academic habits of mind;
3. Encourage critical reading and analysis;
4. Use writing as a mode of learning;
5. Develop essential skills in research and documentation; and
6. Foster the capacity to communicate effectively and collaboratively.

To promote these learning goals, faculty should consider circulating seminar learning goals to students and having their students complete the First-Year Student Learning Inventory, at both the start and end of the semester. Click here for a grid to track first-year seminar learning goals.​​