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First Year Seminar Instructors

General Information

Your Role as a First Year Seminar Instructor

The First Year Seminar (FYS) is a required course for new incoming freshman at Biola University. The First Year Seminar instructor may be one of the few faculty members that students get to interact with in a meaningful way during their first semester at Biola. First Year Seminar is designed to introduce first-year students to the academic community and engage them in the unique aspects of Biola’s biblically centered education. This discipline-linked course also provides an overview of the student’s chosen major and a generalist offering is available for undeclared students.

First Year Seminar Philosophy

First Year Seminars at most institutions of higher education serve the purpose of involving students in the learning process and facilitating student integration into the campus community. At Biola University, First Year Seminars are discipline-based and linked to the students declared major. Research shows that linked seminars tend to receive higher marks from students in the areas of learning outcomes and satisfaction. Research also shows that first year seminars positively affect retention, GPA, credit hours completed, graduation rates, student involvement and student attitudes toward education.

Course Materials

You are not required to use a textbook for First Year Seminar, but if you would like to order either a book or a reading packet for your class, please send the Advising Center that information as soon as possible.

Numerous sections of First Year Seminar are using the StrengthsQuest assessment tool as part of their curriculum to help students get to know themselves and their classmates. If you are interested in using the StrengthsQuest assessment, or would like to know more, please contact the Advising Center or look for information in the resources section (below).


All students receive a letter grade for First Year Seminar that does count toward their cumulative grade point average. You will be sent a grade sheet at the end of the semester to return to the Registrar’s Office. Because this course is heavily driven by participation and because it is only eight weeks long, more than three absences in a twice-weekly course would typically result in a failing grade (at the discretion of the instructor).

“Guests” & Requests

Because we have a captive audience of all freshmen in the First Year Seminar classes, the FYS instructors often receive a wide variety of requests and solicitations from various groups on campus. You may receive email or housemail from people asking to come to your class, survey your class, or wanting you to make announcements in your class.

Your class is first and foremost an opportunity to prepare students for their academic success and assist them in their acclimation into the Biola community and your major. You may respond to as many requests as you like, but please do not let this compromise the learning objectives of the class. Feel free to accept or decline these requests as they come.


You will be sent course evaluation forms to have your students fill out at the end of the eight-week class. Evaluations are used primarily by the Academic Advising office and are not forwarded to the Provost. You will be sent a copy of your evaluations. If you would like to have the results sent to your department chair or dean, just let the Advising Center know.

Career Services/Library

We encourage you to expose your students to a variety of campus resources (Learning Center, Career Development, Health Center, Counseling Center, Library, Writing Center) throughout the course of your FYS class, with a particular emphasis on academic resources. The Career Development and Library staff will contact you with information about how to schedule presentations and/or visits. Their fall schedules can be very busy, so please do not delay in responding! Also, if you plan to give your students an assignment that will require them to obtain some kind of service (i.e. Career Counseling or Career Testing), please clear that with the related office before printing your syllabus.

Questions or Concerns?

Dean of Core Curriculum, Cherry McCabe, JD.
Phone: (562) 903-4792

Learning Objectives and Textbooks

Although you have much freedom in designing the First Year Seminar class for your students, please remember to focus your class on these three main areas and the primary learning objectives underscored in each main area. Primary learning objectives should be treated as imperatives for the course and secondary objectives viewed as optional.

Introduction to College Life

Primary Learning Objectives

  • Important tools for academic success
  • Campus resources, most importantly, academic resources

Secondary Learning Objectives

  • Leaving home
  • Increasing academic and personal responsibilities

Introduction to Biola University

Primary Learning Objectives

  • The uniqueness of a Biola education, specifically an introduction to the language and distinctives of Biblical integration in the Christian liberal arts setting
  • Community life at Biola, with an intentional focus on diversity

Secondary Learning Objectives

  • Community standards
  • Involvement opportunities

Introduction to your Major

Primary Learning Objectives

  • Integration of faith into your major/discipline
  • Dialogue regarding vocation and career exploration

Secondary Learning Objectives

  • Requirements and expectations within the major
  • Any discipline-specific topics

Resources and Tools for FYS

In Class Curriculum Suggestions

For Faculty resources including a copy of these articles, please contact the FYS Coordinator, Cherry McCabe, JD, at

Biblical Integration

  • The Idea of a Christian College
  • Conceiving the Christian College
  • The Pursuit of God

Community Life & Diversity

Vocation and Career Exploration

  • The Call