The First-Year Experience (FYE I and II) is designed to develop writing and critical reading skills, to assist students with the educational and emotional transition to college, and to foster a greater sense of community within a first-year class that is a small size (16 students or fewer) with a full-time faculty member as the primary instructor.
Starting in the 2016-2017 academic year, incoming first-year students participate in an integrated learning experience called “Constellation LVC.” Constellation LVC is designed to help students develop the skills necessary for success in the 21st century: written and oral communication, critical reading and analysis, information literacy, quantitative reasoning, intercultural competence, problem solving, and integration. This last skill—integration—sets Constellation LVC apart from other institutions’ “general education” programs, in which students can see their courses as creating a random set of disciplines, facts, and ideas.
Constellation LVC enables students to make connections between their classes, to understand disciplines as different modes of understanding the world, to integrate these ways of knowing into a more complex and accurate model of our society and globe, and to then use the above skills to demonstrate their value in a competitive job market. This common learning experience has six components that provide opportunities to develop these skills at multiple points in the curriculum.
Components of Constellation LVC
The Formative Experience requires courses designed to develop specific competencies in language, intercultural competency, quantitative reasoning, critical analysis through writing, and one additional course from any of these areas.
The Connective Experience is designed to develop a student’s ability to integrate information from a variety of perspectives. A group of three courses explores a common theme from the perspectives of the natural sciences, humanities, and social sciences. In the accompanying 1-credit Integration course, students complete a project on an area related to a Connective Experience topic that incorporates all three perspectives.
The Integrative Experience is the culmination of the common learning experience. This course requires completion of a project and reflection on the LVC learning experience.
The final component of Constellation LVC requires all students to complete at least two Immersive Experiences. These experiences may include internships, student-faculty research, study abroad, student-teaching, taking a class with a service learning component, community service, mentoring or tutoring, or serving in a campus leadership capacity.
Throughout the common learning experience, students will collect samples of work in an ePortfolio that enables students to reflect on their educational experiences at LVC, both inside and outside the classroom. The portfolio may also be a repository for work to be shared with potential employers and graduate programs.