First-Year Seminar Learning Goals:

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.

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.”

Our First-Year Seminars have the following broad learning goals for students:

Intellectually curious students ask questions, explore wide-ranging topics, and value learning for its own sake. Regardless of what they already know or don’t know, they want to understand more about how and why the world works as it does. Intellectual curiosity is a key predictor of academic success and one of the top traits employers value.

Reading is a means both of acquiring knowledge and of learning to think more deeply. Through exposure to the thoughts of others, students who learn to read closely and critically tend to fare better in critical thinking, complex reasoning, and written communication tasks in any context. The capacity to read critically and analytically is linked to success in college and beyond.

Writing is at the core of a liberal arts education. All Trinity students are expected to write prose that is clear, convincing, and appropriate to audience and purpose. Writing is not only an essential means of communication, it is also a mode of learning that reflects and shapes how we think and interact with the world. Moreover, writing is a key predictor of college success—national employer surveys consistently report favoring candidates with strong writing skills.

The capacity to do research—including generating viable questions, finding relevant materials, assessing the quality of sources, defining problems and topics, synthesizing ideas, and organizing one’s presentation of findings—reflects a degree of mastery over a topic and turns students into producers of knowledge. Research and documentation are essential skills in the academic world and beyond.

Communicating effectively, in speaking as well as writing, is an important component of intellectual work. It requires that students develop confidence in their own ideas and insights; it also requires that they listen closely to others. Communicating one’s views openly and directly—respectful of and stimulated by diverse perspectives––fosters success in the academic world and beyond.

Success as a student requires commitment and discipline. It requires learning how to exchange ideas constructively; respond effectively to intellectual challenges; approach problems systematically and creatively; take responsibility for one’s learning; be open to diverse perspectives; and develop passion for one’s work. It also requires a strong work ethic, including the capacity to manage one’s time, set priorities, meet deadlines, follow directions, and respond to feedback.

Openness to people and ideas different from oneself is crucial for thriving within and beyond academic contexts. Becoming aware of, engaged with, and reflective about new and unfamiliar perspectives makes students better citizens of the campus and the world.