[UPDATE MAY 2023 – THIS PAGE IS AN ARCHIVED PAGE, AND THE INFORMATION IS NO LONGER CURRENT. PLEASE CONSULT YOUR ADVISOR]
[NOTE: Starting in Fall 2023, First Seminar will no longer be offered at CWRU. Information on the new Unified General Education Requirements is available here.]
What is SAGES?
The Seminar Approach to General Education and Scholarship provides a foundation for Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) undergraduates in critical thinking, written and oral communication, the use of information, quantitative reasoning, engagement with ethical issues and diversity, and exposure to experimental and theoretical approaches to understanding human culture and behavior, scientific knowledge, and methods of research.
The SAGES program consists of:
One First Seminar, taken in the first semester of a student’s first year. Students can choose from around eighty courses. All First Seminars are designed to introduce students to CWRU and to provide writing instruction. This Seminar also includes the Fourth Hour, an opportunity to explore some of Cleveland’s scientific and cultural institutions.
Two University Seminars, which have to be completed by the end of a student’s second year. Like the First Seminars, these are small classes with an intensive writing requirement. There are well over a hundred and fifty courses offered over the academic year, all designed and taught by experts on the subjects, which can range from fuel cells to fly fishing, Gothic literature to the business aspects of professional sports. Not every course is available every year.
When those three seminars are completed, students must submit a Writing Portfolio of work from those classes. This is a requirement for graduation.
In a student’s third year, they take one Departmental Seminar, in which they take the writing and critical thinking skills they have learned and bring them to bear on a topic that is related to their major.
In a student’s senior year, the culmination of the SAGES program is the Capstone, a semester-long project ending in a public presentation.
What is Directed Self-Placement (DSP)?
DSP empowers first-year students to select a seminar that best suits their needs as new college writers and thinkers. New students are provided with materials to help them make this decision, including descriptions of the courses available to them, a questionnaire about their writing and reading experience, and a writing sample that they self-assess with criteria provided to them. Currently, transfer students and international students are placed through different processes and do not participate in DSP.
In order to facilitate DSP in the SAGES Program, we have implemented a new online placement process in which students read, write a response to the reading, assess that response according to specific criteria typical of First Seminar writing, and complete a questionnaire about their own reading and writing experiences before coming to college. Incoming first-year students complete this process as part of the New Student Checklist in May or June. The process encourages students to reflect on their needs as new college writers and to select from among
Foundations First Seminars for students who need or want support while developing strong writing habits and acclimating to college-level writing;
Topical First Seminars for students who need or want to apply their writing to explore scholarly areas of interest.
The three kinds of First Seminars have the same learning objectives and meet the same requirements, but they each foster academic writing in a different environment.
What is First Seminar?
The seminar’s defining feature is its small size: with enrollment limited to 17 or fewer students, every First Seminar promotes active engagement and discussion, allows students to learn from one another, and offers a vigorous introduction to academic inquiry. First Seminars have a topic of study, consistent with the Program’s general education mission, and they also involve instruction in academic writing. In addition to the topical First Seminars, SAGES also offers Foundations First Seminars and First Seminars for Non-Native Speakers of English, which are designed to provide more direct writing support to students who need more experience and/or confidence in writing at the college level.
What is a Topical First Seminar?
Topical First Seminars have a topic of study, consistent with the Program’s general education mission, but they also involve instruction in academic writing. These First Seminars have a variety of topics and are taught by professors from throughout the university. The majority of first-year students take a Topical Seminar, rather than a First Seminar for Non-Native Speakers of English or Foundations First Seminar.
Here are some examples of recent Topical First Seminars.
FSNA 155 The Engineering of Things
Robots, smart cities, wind energy, modern prosthetics, 3-D printing, and smart phones are but a few examples of the pervasiveness of modern engineering. This seminar will examine what engineers do, the skills needed to be successful in engineering and many other professions, how some things work, and how to actually design and build something. We will examine the engineering design process, how things are designed and built, and how things work and/or fail. Successful engineers also need to be good at communications, teamwork, time management and organization, and understand professional responsibility and ethics.
FSSO 151: Border Crossings: Travel, Culture, Identity
This seminar will explore the transformative nature of travel, especially in regard to individual and cultural identity. Through seminar discussions, extensive writing and revision, and formal oral presentations, our class will explore how individuals, including ourselves, define themselves in personal, local, and national contexts and how we redefine ourselves and our world as we cross geographical borders. Course texts will include works of fiction, non-fiction travel narratives, films, and scholarly essays that will compel us to question our everyday world and consider matters of cultural exchange and social belonging.
FSSY 162: The Mind of the Warrior
This seminar investigates the origins and representations of traditional martial arts through movies, novels, and comics. We will emphasize the moral, historical, and cognitive issues involved in the practice of these older fighting techniques. We will also examine how practitioners might have been forced to compromise some of their tenets to accommodate contemporary life and a broader audience.
What is Foundations First Seminar?
In addition to the topical First Seminars, SAGES also offers Foundations First Seminars, which are designed to provide more direct writing support to students who need or want more experience with the writing process. These FSEM experiences will provide students with opportunities to develop their own writing processes and their confidence about their ability to perform college level writing.
FSCC 110: Foundations of College Writing Course Description
Writing is both a personal and a social project. Foundations of College Writing First Seminar provides attention to the personal aspects of writing including processes, habits, and skills as well as to the social aspects of writing including types of writing, persuasion/argument, and conventions. The course structure allows for us to spend more time and attention on your individual needs and goals as writers. You will learn academic writing conventions, rhetorical techniques, and various processes and methods that you might adopt and employ as you move into other writing situations.
We will explore writing from multiple positions: as a writer, as a reader, and as a critic.
We will explore various types of writing: alphabetic text, visuals, and multimedia.
And finally we will work to achieve the course objectives through freewriting, drafting, revising, reflecting, emailing, debating, and discussing.
Watch former Foundations students talk about their experience:
What is First Seminar for Non-Native Speakers of English?
SAGES also provides First Seminars for Non-Native Speakers of English for students whose first language is not English and who need or want direct support in reading and writing in academic English. First Seminars for Non-Native Speakers of English provide classroom support for students who are not comfortable reading and/or writing in English. They have the same course outcomes as other First Seminars, but extra time is devoted to grammatical and rhetorical concerns. These classes are composed of students whose first language is not English (including students who have attended high school in English-speaking countries) and a teacher who has special training in teaching English as a second language.
FSCC 100: First Seminar
This four credit-hour course provides an introduction to various dimensions of academic life. It will be characterized by intense yet open-ended intellectual inquiry, guided by reading from primary as well as secondary sources, and will include practice in written and oral communication in small groups. The goals are to enhance basic intellectual skills of academic inquiry, such as critical reading, thoughtful analysis, and written and oral communication; to introduce basic information literacy skills; to provide a foundation for ethical decision-making; to encourage a global and multidisciplinary perspective on the learning process; to facilitate faculty-student interactions; and, in the most general sense, to provide a supportive common intellectual experience for first-year students at Case.
How do Topical First Seminars, Foundations First Seminars, and First Seminars for Non-Native Speakers of English compare?
|Topical First Seminars
|Foundations First Seminars
|First Seminars for Non-Native Speakers of English
|Use writing to explore a topic of study
|Study the topic of writing as a process
|Study topics related to culture and identity to explore academic writing in English
|Assume independence and confidence in personal writing processes
|Foster strong personal writing habits & processes
|Foster strong personal writing & language acquisition habits
|Devote class time mostly to exploration of a topic
|Devote class time mostly to experimentation with writing strategies
|Devote class time to reading, writing, & evaluating academic English
|Offer writing support as part of the curriculum
|Offer intensive writing support as part of the curriculum
|Offer writing & language support as part of the curriculum
|Have 17 students per class
|Have 12 students per class
|Have 12 students per class
All three First Seminar experiences award academic credit and meet the SAGES learning outcomes; students’ transcripts will reflect that they have taken a First Seminar, regardless of which seminar experience they choose. None of these courses is remedial nor a prerequisite for a Topical First Seminar.
What are the options for First Seminars for Non-Native Speakers of English?
|FSAE 100: Academic English
|FSCC 100: First Seminar
|Click to watch a video of a student’s testimonial about this course
|Click to watch a video of a student’s testimonial about this course
|Develops fundamental academic writing skills in English such as paraphrasing, summarizing, and argument essay writing
|Develops more advanced academic writing in English
|Develops basic skills necessary to read and respond to academic texts critically
|Fosters critical thinking by focusing on longer and more advanced readings
|Develops skills needed to successfully participate and lead classroom discussions
|Offers practice in discussions in a seminar environment
|Devotes special attention to language skills to understand and make rhetorical choices
|Offers language support as part of the curriculum
|Improves and extends students’ grammar, vocabulary, tone, and style
|Develops other general academic skills such as note taking, revising, editing, and proofreading
|After successful completion, students continue in FSCC 100: First Seminar the following semester with the same instructor and classmates.
What are some common questions asked by students for whom English is not their first language?
Will taking FSAE 100: Academic English in my first semester and FSCC 100: First Seminar in my second semester delay my academic progress or put me behind other students?
No, this will NOT delay the sequence of your SAGES courses and will NOT put you behind other students. SAGES recommend students to finish their University Seminar requirements by the end of their fourth semester. Opting for FSAE 100: Academic English in your first semester and FSCC 100: First Seminar in the second semester will still leave you two semesters to complete your two University Seminar courses. Instead, you will have an advantage as FSAE 100: Academic English will prepare you to be more successful not only in your First Seminar and University Seminar, but also in all other courses at CWRU by developing your academic skills.
Are First Seminars for Non-Native Speakers of English ESL courses?
First Seminars for Non-Native Speakers of English are not English language courses. FSAE 100: Academic English is a course that develops students’ academic skills needed to be successful in their First Seminar as well as other courses at CWRU. FSCC 100: First Seminar has the same student learning objectives as Topical First Seminars, but offers additional support to students in areas specific to non-native speakers.
If my preference is for a First Seminar for Non-Native Speakers of English am I missing out on interacting with native speakers?
You will have abundant opportunities to interact with native speakers in all your other courses during your first semester as well as in future SAGES University and Department Seminars. A First Seminar for Non-Native Speakers of English will be beneficial for you as it is taught by professors trained to attend to specific needs of students for whom English is not their first language in the same seminar format and with the same learning outcomes as Topical First Seminars.
I am not sure which First Seminar for Non-Native Speakers of English is best for me. What should I do?
During the Directed Self-Placement process you can select the option to have a SAGES faculty member teaching these courses to decide the option that would benefit you most. The faculty member will read your responses to the questionnaire as well as your response to the reading & writing task to consider the best course for you.
Who can I talk to if I have more questions about my First Seminar selection?
If you have questions about the directed self-placement process or Foundations First Seminars, you can contact Martha Schaffer, Associate Director of Composition, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 216.368.1890.
If you have questions about writing services for students whose first language is not English or First Seminars for Non-Native Speakers of English, you can contact Gusztav Demeter, Coordinator of ESL Writing, at email@example.com or 216.368.2452