OpenSem: Policies & Info

The First Year Seminar: Critical Thinking and the Nature of Inquiry

Introduces students to the concepts of general education and the academic community and to the skills educated people use to generate and address important questions. Using critical thinking skills and basic tools of gathering and evaluating information, students and the instructor together engage in a meaningful exploration of a specific “Question.” The “Question” varies across sections of the course. Required of all first year students.

Our Question: Whose Course Is This, Anyway?

Who owns your education? As a college student, should you have a say in what you learn? How you learn? How much it costs you to learn? What grades you receive for learning? This course will be built entirely by students as we survey the emerging field of “Open Pedagogy.” We will explore a range of models for learner-driven education and contribute back to the academic commons by sharing our own work on public digital platforms that we build together. We will consider inventive and interdisciplinary ideas for how to transform universities and work together to shape the future of higher education at Plymouth State and beyond.

Course Objectives (Student-Generated)
By the end of this course, students will be able to:
  • Work outside our comfort zone and work in ways that are new to us;
  • Use our academic and university resources effectively;
  • Convey opinions effectively to create a good conversation;
  • Connect our learning with the outside world;
  • Manage our academics more independently, without someone always on our back about it;
  • Engage with others and share ideas on a project or issue;
  • Communicate with classmates and professors in a professional manner;
  • Effectively complete group work;
  • Properly cite sources in our work;
  • Pay attention and follow a curriculum, identifying and retaining information that is important;
  • Express our own opinions during class discussion with confidence;
  • Research a topic so as to develop more accurate and unbiased opinions and arguments;
  • Use our critical thinking skills and the basic tools of gathering and evaluating information so we can build arguments that are solid and informed;
  • Listen well so we can understand other people’s views on something;
  • Use technology to enrich our educational experience;
  • Write at a college level in a way that is smooth and engaging for readers.
Attendance Policy (Student-Generated)

We should strive for perfect attendance.  If we miss more than five classes, our final grade will be lowered by 1/3 of a grade.  If we achieve perfect attendance with no absences, we will earn the ability to convert one missed competency to a pass.

If we miss class more than two times, we will visit Robin’s office hours in person after any missed class (instead of emailing) in order to get assistance catching up.

Grading Procedures (Student-Designed)
Grading will be a competency-based model.  A competency on an assignment will be earned when the work is both sufficiently developed and sufficiently polished: all specified parameters must be met, and all basic formal elements (grammar/mechanics; citations; technical issues; etc.) are satisfactory.  A competency will be logged in the Moodle gradebook as a 95.  Competencies will be entered as 0 until they are met.

All deadlines are SOFT unless otherwise noted.  Soft deadlines may be adjusted in infrequent cases to meet student scheduling needs.  Deadlines noted as HARD are firm, and competencies that are not earned on time will stay at 0.  All deadlines will convert to hard deadlines if too many students begin missing assignments.

To resubmit revised work, email Robin and make sure you include a direct LINK to the post and an explanation of what you have revised. Make sure you have addressed all comments (including those on– both public and grammarcheck) before submitting any revision.

Final project (worth 20% of course grade) will be graded by Robin according to the provided rubric, with self- and group-assessment adjustments available.

Required Text
There are no required texts to purchase for this course, which will make use of Open Educational Resources, free digital materials, and student-generated texts.  There will be a cost of $27 per student for domain space.

Academic Integrity
You must adhere to the Academic Integrity policy as outlined in the PSU Academic Catalog.

Plymouth State University is committed to providing students with documented disabilities equal access to all university programs and facilities. If you think you have a disability requiring accommodations, you should immediately contact the Disability Services Office (DSO) in the Center for Student Success in Mary Lyon (535-3065) to determine whether you are eligible for such accommodations. Academic accommodations will only be considered for students who have registered with DSO. If you have a Letter of Accommodation for this course from DSO, please provide the instructor with that information privately so that you and the instructor can review those accommodations.