1996 the Hewlett Foundation invited NC State to submit a
proposal dealing with general education at a Research I
university. The Council on Undergraduate Education responded
to this challenge, the application was successful, and the
Hewlett Initiative began
its two-year program in the fall of 1997.One of the results
of the Hewlett Initiative was a conviction felt by many
of its participants that a first-year seminar, in which
students become genuine inquirers, could make a significant
impact on subsequent general education experiences, as well
as courses in the major. An FYI program seemed like a good
way to begin changing the way students approach all their
university courses, including large lecture courses. First
Year Inquiry pilot seminars began in the fall of 1999 with
seven offerings, followed by three in the spring of 2000,
seventeen in fall 00, and eleven in spring 01.
The purposes of the pilot are
(1) to see what difference these courses make in students
(2) to learn how to integrate what students gain in this
program with subsequent courses so that each students
general education and major program are deepened; and,
(3) to identify problems involved in offering FYI courses
and strategies for institutionalizing the program if it
turns out to be valuable.
of FYI Courses
1. Help students develop a sense of inquiry and
of responsibility for their own learning.
If they really want to know the answers to questions they
are really asking, they will also see that responsibility
for their lives and for their education are interrelated.
When students are committed to their own learning, faculty
can get more across. Both learning and teaching are more
rewarding. More happens.
2. Foster intellectual development and growth toward intellectual
Education is more than "just learning the facts;" we aspire to push students to the upper reaaches of Bloom's taxonomy of cognitive activity.
Judgments can be made poorly or well, and the fact that
there is no calculus for judgments does not mean that they
are merely subjective or that all judgments are equally
good or bad.
3. Provide guided practice in critical and creative thinking.
Through guided practice, students can learn explicitly to
evaluate the depth, breadth, clarity, and relevance of the
answers they find to their questions. We also aspire to improve their ability to create original interpretations, analyses, or syntheses--creative thinking.
4. Provide guided practice in writing, speaking,
listening, asking questions, looking for answers, and evaluating
Implicit in the Above Four
When the program began, other objectives were discussed,
but as the program has evolved, attention has increasingly
focused on the four goals listed above.
other objectives, which now seem to be implicit in the four,
Help students become eager for courses meeting general
education program (GEP) requirements.
They really want answers to questions they are really
asking, and they understand that GEP courses will help.
students understand that hard work and increasingly
deep thinking are required to answer these questions.
Good will, noble intentions, intellectual curiosity
are not enough.
students awareness of the complexity of the
questions they are asking, and the aesthetic, economic,
ethical, political, and technical dimensions of the disciplines
that will be involved in answering them.
in FYI Courses
The basic principle is this: ANY pedagogy that moves
students toward these objectives is a good one.
are some remarks to amplify that principle:
term "Inquiry-guided learning" captures a good
deal of what an appropriate pedagogy looks like. This was
the term that the Council on Undergraduate Education used
in its successful grant application to the Hewlett Foundation,
and it has served as the anchoring concept for the Hewlett
Initiative. "Inquiry-guided learning" means that
the class is conducted by working toward and on questions
to which students really want to know the answer. And so
faculty devote time, energy and attention to arousing students
interest and eagerness for answers and directing the students
toward them. FYI courses are in the spirit of and responsive
to the 1996 position statement adopted by the Council on
Undergraduate Education on "Increasing
Student Responsibility for, Involvement in, and Commitment
is no one way to do Inquiry-guided learning, and what works
for one faculty member may not work for others.
of the possible ways are:
a. Strategies listed in the CUE Position Statement
b. Use of a challenging text. Student-generated questions
about it. Faculty-generated questions on applying it
b. Break-out group (task-oriented small group discussions)
d. Student reports
e. Student journal of observations and questions
f. Guest speaker followed by question-and-answer session
g. Use of the language of critical thinking, such as "standards
of critical thinking;" differences among facts, opinions,
2. Many faculty combine several of these strategies in every
class session. They can also be effectively combined with
twenty or thirty minutes of straight lecturing. Students
who are developing the habit of asking questions will continue
to ask questions during lectures, and lectures themselves
can be structured to foster the spirit of inquiry by continuously
raising questions, sometimes leaving them temporarily unanswered.
is Expected of FYI Instructors?
-- Offer a "Q" class that moves students toward
the objectives listed above.
-- Attend development workshops available at the Faculty
Center for Teaching and Learning or sponsored by the FYI
Program. These workshops give faculty the opportunity to
think through the objectives of the FYI program and to talk
with other faculty about specific strategies for their particular
--Develop course objectives and student outcomes that are
included in the course syllabus.
--Develop rubric for course assessment.
--Report assessment results at the end of the semester.
who are teaching beyond the second "Q" semester,
are invited to participate in monthly faculty meetings but
are not required to do so.
New Faculty Only:
-- Attend an orientation meeting which is held near the
end of the semester that precedes the one in which they
will teach an FYI course.
Faculty teaching for the first
and second time:
--Participate in monthly meetings in which faculty members
who teach for the first and second time in the FYI program
work toward a common understanding of the objectives of
the FYI program, discuss the appropriate ways to assess
the program, compare notes on teaching methods, share their
frustrations and their successes, their questions and their
bag of tricks.
--Attend workshop/seminar (when available) presenting guest
lecturers who are experts in fields of critical thinking,
Faculty who have already taught an FYI section may provide
mentoring for new FYI faculty.
faculty wish to offer an FYI course that is a new course,
they must follow SOP for new course proposal and approval
beginning with submission of the Course Action Form which
includes a complete syllabus, catalog description, statement
of objectives, course justification, GER listing and justification.
Approval should take place one semester before the starting
date for the course. For further details about this process
go to Undergraduate
Faculty who teach FYI sections for the first and second
time will receive a stipend of $1000.00 and are asked to
sign a MEMORANDUM OF AGREEMENT (MOA) that outlines faculty
participation in the FYI program. By signing this MOA, faculty
agree that award of the stipend is contingent upon completion
of the tasks and responsibilites outlined in the agreement.
Impact of FYI
If the FYI program has a lasting impact on its students,
it will mean that even in large-enrollment courses they
will continue to take charge of their learning. They will
monitor their learning, and recognize when they are not
understanding something. If they are bored and unmotivated,
they will recognize it and have an idea of what to do about
it. They will seek out courses and instructors that offer
the kind of experience that their FYI course offered because
they will want that experience to be reinforced and built
If the FYI program succeeds, it will be because it is part
of a larger movement. Students seeking additional Inquiry-guided
learning classes will be able to find them in their sophomore
and junior courses because the two generations of Hewlett
Scholars now includes over one hundred faculty who understand
the principles of Inquiry-guided learning to make it work.This
larger movement also now includes the Hewlett Challenge
in which ten departments are studying the curriculum for
their majors and reviewing one or two courses in view of
both their curricular objectives for the major as a whole
and the principles of Inquiry-guided learning. It seems
reasonable to expect that ten models for building on the
FYI experience are emerging in this process. This program
is funded by a second grant from the Hewlett Foundation.
In September 2000, we received a grant from the Fund for
the Improvement of Post-Secondary Education (FIPSE, a grant
program of the Department of Education) to plan an expanded
assessment of all the emerging components of an emerging
comprehensive IGL program- the first-year inquiry courses,
general-education courses that use IGL pedagogy, and the
inquiry-guided experiences within the major culminating
in senior research and capstone-course projects.
This assessment aims at the extremely difficult task of
doing longitudinal evaluation:
Is the FYI program really integrated with subsequent experiences
and does the program as a whole make a measurable difference
in students learning?
If the FYI program pays off, it will mean that students
really are getting more out of their whole general-education
experience and are better prepared to be inquiring, self-motivated
learners within their major programs.
will pay a different kind of attention in classes that arent
specifically designed as IGL.
.........They will continue their growth as inquirers in
subsequent general education courses.
will select courses that are inquiry-driven.
be ready to begin research projects in their major field.
FYI program has a long-term vision that is very ambitious.
The effort is still in its emerging stages, and there is
much, much still to be learned. For faculty who are eager
to transform our students total university experience,
it is an exciting venture.
is Inquiry-guided learning?
Inquiry-guided learning (IGL) refers to an array of
classroom practices that promotes student learning through
guided and, increasingly, independent investigation of questions
and problems for which there are no single answer. Rather
than teaching the results of others investigations,
which students learn passively, instructors assist students
in mastering and learning through the process of active
process involves the ability to formulate good questions,
identify and collect appropriate evidence, present results
systematically, analyze and interpret results, formulate
conclusions, and evaluate the worth and importance of those
conclusions. It may also involve the ability to identify
problems, examine problems, generate possible solutions,
and select the best solution with appropriate justification.
This process will differ somewhat among different academic
in this way promotes other important outcomes as well. It
nurtures curiosity, initiative, and risk taking. It promotes
critical thinking. It develops students responsibility
for their own learning and habits of life-long learning.
And it fosters intellectual development and maturity: the
recognition that ambiguity and uncertainty are inevitable,
and in response, we must learn to make reasoned judgments
and act in ways consistent with these judgments
of teaching strategies, used singly or, more often, in combination
with one another, is consistent with Inquiry-guided learning:
interactive lecture, discussion, group work, case studies,
problem-based learning, service learning, simulations, fieldwork,
and labs as well as many others.
fact the only method that is not consistent with IGL is
the exclusive use of straight lecturing and the posing of
questions for which there are only one correct answer.
because of the nature of the outcomes it promotes and the
necessity for active engagement, Inquiry-guided learning
must also involve writing and speaking both in classroom
instruction and in the methods used to evaluate students.
While Inquiry-guided learning is appropriate in all classes,
it is most effective in small classes (i.e., approximately
20 students). It is particularly appropriate for first year
students who are forming habits of learning that they will
exercise throughout their undergraduate years and beyond.
Finally, the rest of the undergraduate curriculum should
reinforce these early learning experiences.
Hewlett Steering Committee, September 2000