Mission: To give our students the best possible start at NC State, we will intensify our efforts aimed at first-year students. Our First-Year Inquiry (FYI) courses provide students with a small class setting that enables them to develop a connection with a faculty member and a group of peers. FYI instructors are trained in a pedagogical approach tailored to develop critical and creative thinking as well as written and oral communication skills that help students become independent learners.
Background and History of the First-Year Inquiry Program at NC State
Hewlett Foundation Proposal
Tooling up to Teach an FYI Class - Workshops for FYI Faculty
FYI and FYC Learning Communities
Hewlett Foundation Proposal
In the fall of 1995, the Provost's Office received an invitation
from the Hewlett Foundation to propose a project, to be funded
by Hewlett, that would address General Education issues at
a Research I institution, and specifically propose ways to
harness the power implicit in the research engines for general
education. Perhaps what Hewlett expected was proposals that
would put top researchers into General Education classes and
General Education students into research labs. What we gave
them was a proposal that we adopt "Inquiry Guided Learning"
(IGL) strategies in some General Education courses so that
students would be better prepared to pursue inquiry seriously
within their majors.
funded the project. Fifty Hewlett Faculty Fellows were identified,
and the group set to work planning ways to IGL in their own
courses and ways to join General Education with high-powered
later, we emerged with two determinations:
- a need for a first-year inquiry program and,
- need for a program coordinating the results of the first-year
inquiry program with other General Education courses and both
of these with the major, so that the total university experience
would be one of developing habits and skills of inquiry.
Year Inquiry Program Begins
The initial First-Year Inquiry courses were offered in the
fall of 1999. The Hewlett Steering Committee tentatively set
20 as the enrollment limit for the classes. The faculty was
charged to find ways to make the small-class size contribute
both to unusually strong success in the cognitive content
of the course and also to the over-all objective of beginning
to develop a sense of, taste for, and skills in inquiry. This
objective implied three assessable outcomes:
charge of one's thinking--development of the ability to think
- growing beyond dualism and relativism--intellectual maturity
- taking responsibility for one's own education
FYI courses comprised the Fall 1999 semester. The Spring 2000
semester offered three FYI sections of PHI 205, "The
Moral Community." There are always more FYI sections
in the fall than in the spring semester.
The number of FYI sections offered per semester is as follows:
NC State administrators have given strong endorsements of the FYI
program and have funded it from tuition- and enrollment-increase
funds. Provost Cooper has said that classes for first-year
students that are small and where they work only with other
first-year students can be very important for their future
at the university.
What is a reasonable target for the FYI program?
Should a small-class experience be available to all first-year
students? Should we enlarge the program until 85% of first-year
students have an FYI opportunity available to them? Since
no one is talking about requiring students to take an FYI
course, it seems likely that expansion should stop when sections
begin to go unfilled. So far, only a few experimental courses
have been underenrolled. Courses of which FYI sections are
offered are courses that meet General Education Requirements
or are highly attractive courses for first-year students for
other reasons. Students are not being asked to enroll in these
courses just because they deal with interesting and important
topics. The course must advance their educational program
as well as advance their ability to think critically and grow
Tooling up to Teach an FYI Class
- Workshops for FYI Faculty
takes expertise and understanding to teach an FYI section
effectively. It is not easy to work explicitly toward the
program's objective - developing a sense of inquiry at the
same time that one is working toward the cognitive outcomes
that are the objective of each course. For faculty to use
the small-class format in ways that will help students achieve
both the FYI outcomes and the cognitive goals of the particular
course requires careful planning, which in turn requires time
During the course of the semester, FYI faculty teaching
for the first or second time meet monthly enhance their teaching, assessment strategies,and share successes
and challenges. Faculty teaching for a third
time or more may participate in a group but on a volunteer
What is the FYI Program?
At the end of each semester, all the FYI faculty for the next
semester get together to discuss the objective and outcomes
of the program. They discuss what exactly do "sense of
inquiry" and "intellectual maturity" mean?
Does critical thinking mean the same thing in history as in
physics? How are we going to assess the effectiveness of the
program? Who defines what "effective" means"
Who designs the assessment?
What is Inquiry-Guided Learning?
In this workshop, FYI faculty work toward a common understanding
of IGL by applying it to one or two particular cases. Faculty
particularly appreciate what they hear and learn from faculty
in disciplines very different from their own. Generally, the
workshop is offered in two sittings, and faculty may go to
one or the other.
Teaching Strategies and Assessments
Faculty need the opportunity to work on specific plans to
work toward specific goals and specific ways to assess how
effective the plans were. Typically people share their ideas,
plans, successes and fears with one another.
Faculty who teach FYI sections for the first and second time
will receive a stipend of $1000.00. These faculty will be
expected to attend orientation meetings, pre-program workshops,
and monthly team meetings.
and First Year College (FYC)
Village "Linked" courses
College is a program for about 800 students who think
about university education comprehensively before deciding
on a major. To that end, they take a one-credit- hour course
each semester in the first year. These classes are typically
small. The program also has significant residential and programmatic
In the fall of 2001, an experimental format took all the FYC
students who had enrolled in the same FYI course and put them
into the same section of the FYC one-credit course. Furthermore,
all the students in a given pair of sections live in the same
residential unit. This format enables students to see one
another inside and outside of class, enhances their opportunities
to continue discussion on course topics outside the classroom
and to bring issues from outside the class into the class
for scrutiny and clarification.
That experiment proved very successful, and each fall several "linked" sections are offered. The format allows for field trips, synergy between assignments and pedadogy in the 2 courses, and helps build camaraderie among students. Assessments show that students in linked courses enjoy considerable benefits in their subsequent university career.
Today FYI operates under the auspices of NCSU's Division of Academic & Student Affairs [DASA].