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Signature Courses
Member, Texas Tech University System The Princeton Review - 373 Best Colleges, 2011 Edition

An instructor teaches freshman students.

Course Essentials

We’ve pulled this information together to help faculty plan and develop their signature course curriculum. Signature course specific requirements include writing, oral communication, information literacy, exposure to University resources, and participation in the Faculty Lecture Series.

  • Writing

    The information below was recommended by first-year writing faculty in the Department of English and Modern Languages, and approved by the Freshman College Course Advisory Committee.

    Writing Requirement

    Because practicing writing skills is a key component of signature courses, faculty members should require students to write summaries of at least two of these types of assignments:

    • Reviews of books, articles, lectures and films
    • Peer evaluations

    Resources

    • Refer students to the Writing Center for help with writing assignments.
    • Encourage students to use the Porter Henderson Library to research class assignments and get help finding resources.

    Activities

    Consider including some of these writing activities in your class:

    • Ask students to respond to another writer’s work, either in an online forum or a paper submitted to the instructor.
    • Analyze a paper or work of writing via overhead projector.
    • Tell students to meet in small groups and revise their papers.
    • Give students in-class writing assignments about a topic.

     

  • Oral Communication

    The information below was recommended by Communication 2301 faculty in the Department of Communication and Mass Media, and approved by the Freshman College Course Advisory Committee.

    Oral Presentation Requirement

    Students should be required to complete one oral communication project to practice presentation skills. Refer to the Oral Communication Guidebook for more information about helping students prepare for oral presentations. The guide also contains a sample rubric for grading presentations.

  • Information Literacy

    Signature courses will incorporate ways for students to learn and critically examine valid sources of information. Most first-year students know how to get answers from the Internet, but for many, the ability to find other types of resources and to think critically about all of the information they find may be a skill that has yet to be honed.

    Signature courses provide a distinct opportunity to ensure that all first-year students receive instruction in basic research and information evaluation skills, otherwise known as information literacy skills, which will serve them throughout their time at the university. 

    Library Assistance

    Several dedicated librarians can meet with you individually to discuss information literacy as it pertains to your course and your students. They have built LibGuides for many signature courses and they offer library tutorials for faculty and students on how to request their services. Feel free to contact the library for more information.

  • University Resources

    One of the goals of signature courses is to make new students aware of the resources available to them on campus. Be sure to inform your students about these opportunities for academic assistance:

     

  • Lecture Series

    The Faculty Lecture Series gives first-year students an opportunity to interact with leading members of our faculty – scholars, scientists and civic leaders who are nationally renowned. Signature course students will be required to attend one of the offered lectures, each designed to create a campus-wide conversation.

    The Freshman College produces the Faculty Lecture Series each fall semester. Speakers are selected from annual finalists and winners of the Teaching Excellence Award or other distinguished faculty.

    All students, faculty, alumni, staff and community guests are invited, but the events will be aimed at entering first-year students.