FYII 101: 1st Year Inquiry & Identity, Fall 2023

This syllabus is subject to change based on specific class needs, especially the schedule. Significant deviations will be discussed in class. Individual exceptions to the policies and schedule are granted only in cases of true emergency. Please make arrangements with me if an emergency arises.




Inquiry & Identity is a transition into the Monmouth College learning community which values the spirit of inquiry in pursuit of academic excellence. I&I sections are taught by faculty from departments across campus, and I&I instructors also serve as academic advisers for first-year students.

I&I courses invite first-year students to delve into questions of human values and purposes. These are the central values of the liberal arts. Through them and through our work with common texts, convocations and other activities, we consider the meaning and significance of complex issues.

In addition to exploring a liberal arts educational philosophy and supporting students’ transition to college, discussions and activities in this course draw on concepts in the course’s title: Inquiry, which is an active process of engaging fully in the process of learning, and Identity, which is an exploration of the diverse, intersectional and multifaceted qualities of self-hood and belonging.

Learning Goals

  1. Students will explore the themes of Inquiry & Identity as a means to engage with questions of human values, experiences, purposes, and communities and as a means to explore connections among disciplines and among diverse perspectives. Students will learn that a liberal arts education can be transformative, preparing them to pursue fulfilling personal and professional lives.
  2. Students will understand key components for engaging in the intellectual and personal challenges of college and for becoming life-long learners. These components include developing a strong and consistent work ethic, adopting an attitude of inquiry, functioning from a growth-mindset, and approaching all aspects of the transition to college with tenacity and resilience.
  3. Students will consider their identity and discover that their sense of self and their engagement with the community affects their quality of life and the lives of those around them. Students will consider the diverse, intersectional, and multifaceted qualities of identity, which may include, social class, race and ethnicity, gender, sexuality, ability, and geographic location.
  4. Students will understand that inquiry is an active process that engages learners’ previous knowledge, requires close attention to reading, and involves analysis and questioning. Students will learn how reading provides a means to connect to conversations that can develop our understanding of ourselves, our world, and is a source not only of learning but also of enjoyment.

Core Curriculum Learning Objectives

  1. Students will communicate ideas clearly and effectively.
  2. Students will identify, analyze, and interpret information in relevant contexts.
  3. Students will evaluate and synthesize information to construct meanings.
  4. Students will explain diverse identities, histories, and perspectives of self and others
  5. Students will examine societal forces, structures, and systems within or outside of the U.S.
  6. Students will critically reflect on learning experiences.

This year FYII will be assessed on learning objective #6.

Required Materials

The following texts are required:

Other sources will be posted on this webpage as needed.


Assignments and Workload

The weekly workload for this course will vary by student and by week but should be about 12.5 hours per week on average. The following table provides a rough estimate of the distribution of time over different course components for a 16 week semester, as well as detailing the type, amount, and relative value of all assignments.

Category Final Grade Weight Time/Week (Hours)
Class/Convocation 20% (Participation) 3.5
Exams/Exam Prep 15% 1
Reading Assignments/Class Prep 45% 6
Experience-based Writing 20% 2

Your final grade is based on a weighted average of particular assignment categories. You can estimate your current grade based on your scores and these weights. You may always visit the instructor outside of class to discuss your current standing. Assignments and final grades use a standard grading scale shown below and will not be curved except in rare cases when deemed necessary by the instructor.

No extra credit will be given on an individual basis.

Reading-based Assessments

This is reading-focused course, so every day there will be reading assignment and a quiz, homework question(s), or writing assignment based on the reading. Examples include close-reading, annotation, or weekly mini-essay assignments.

Your lowest 4 reading-based assessment scores will be dropped.

Experience-based Writing

As opposed to the reading-Based writing that connects directly to the readings of the course, experience-based writings respond to other required components of the course such as convocations and outside events.

Responses to Convocations

You will be assigned a written response for each convocation, unless otherwise specified. More information can be found in the convocation assignment sheet.

Responses to Outside Events

Over the course of the semester you must attend and participate in three “outside events” during the semester. “Outside” means “not a regular part of class,” not “outdoors” or “off campus.” You’ll be expected to write a short reflection about the event and relate it to the themes of the class. More information can be found in the assignment sheet.

Final Exam

At the end of the semester there will be an open-notes comprehensive exam, worth 15% of your grade.


This is a discussion-based class, so it is essential that you come prepared to actively participate. This can take many forms, including: regular class attendance, carefully reading and annotating the assigned texts, sharing your thoughts, opinions, and insights during discussions, considering and raising opposing viewpoints, engaging in respectful dialogue with others, listening attentively to others’ perspectives, and following the discussion policies listed in the policies section.

At various points I may make use of the Socrative app, so you’ll need to install this on your phone. Participating in Socrative questions and with in-class group activities is required for a decent participation grade.

Grade Scale

This courses uses a standard grading scale. Assignments and final grades will not be curved except in rare cases when its deemed necessary by the instructor. Percentage grades translate to letter grades as follows:

Score Grade
94–100 A
90–93 A-
88–89 B+
82–87 B
80–81 B-
78–79 C+
72–77 C
70–71 C-
68–69 D+
62–67 D
60–61 D-
0–59 F

You are always welcome to challenge a grade that you feel is unfair or calculated incorrectly. Mistakes made in your favor will never be corrected to lower your grade. Mistakes made not in your favor will be corrected. Basically, after the initial grading your score can only go up as the result of a challenge*.


TLDR: I expect you to (1) be respectful of others, and (2) take responsibility for your own learning. You are here to learn, so work hard and be professional.


The following tentative calendar should give you a feel for how work is distributed throughout the semester. Assignments and events are listed in the week they are due or when they occur. This calendar is subject to change based on the circumstances of the course.

Note: All readings should be done before the class period in which they are listed below.

Date Topic Assignment and Readings
Mon 08/21 (Week 1) Logistics, Summer Reading “Becoming a Learner”
Tue 08/22 (Scot Start)  
Wed 08/23 Summer Reading, “Only Connect”, Annotations Only Connect
Fri 08/25 Convocations, “How to Get the Most Out of College” Reading
Mon 08/28 (Week 2) “How to Read a Book” Reading
Tue 08/29 Convocation: Mark Wilhardt  
Wed 08/30 Too Much Wisdom HH intro, 1-1 appt. sched.
Fri 09/01 (Success Coach: Time Management) HH ch. 1 hwk
(Mon 09/04) (Week 3) (Labor Day – no classes)  
Tue 09/05 FYM Session: How to Be Successful  
Wed 09/06 Elephant vs. Rider, Close Reading Tools/Strategies HH ch. 1
Fri 09/08 The Glass Castle, Close Reading GC 3-31
Mon 09/11 (Week 4) Meditation vs. Medication HH ch. 2
Tue 09/12 Convocation: Sidney Greenwalt  
Wed 09/13 Convocation Discussion/Meditation, GC Discussion GC 32-61
Fri 09/15 Close Reading Examples, HH Discussion HH ch. 3, Close Reading #1 Due
Mon 09/18 (Week 5)   GC 62-90
Tue 09/19 FYM Session: Campus Involvement  
Wed 09/20   HH ch. 4
Fri 09/22 (No class)  
Mon 09/25 (Week 6) Strategies for Reading Scholarly Sources Reading Scholarly Sources
Tue 09/26 Convocation: Tim Mousseau  
Wed 09/27   GC 91-125
Fri 09/29   HH ch. 5
Mon 10/02 (Week 7)   GC 129-154
Tue 10/03 (No meeting – convocation moved to Thursday)  
Wed 10/04   HH ch. 6, Mentor Office Hour
Thu 10/05 Convocation: Alumni Panel  
Fri 10/06   GC 155-174, Close Reading #2 Due
Mon 10/09 (Week 8)   HH ch. 7, VIA Survey
Tue 10/10 FYM Session: Stress Management  
Wed 10/11   GC 175-213
(Fri 10/13) (Fall Break)  
Mon 10/16 (Week 9)   HH ch. 8, Close Reading #3 Due
Tue 10/17 Convocation: Kristi Millar Mentoring Day
Wed 10/18   GC 214-241
Fri 10/20   HH ch. 9
Mon 10/23 (Week 10)   GC 245-268, 1-1 appt. sched.
Tue 10/24 Convocation: Jesse Howard  
Wed 10/25   HH ch. 10-11
Fri 10/27   GC 269-288, Close Reading #4 Due
Mon 10/30 (Week 11) (No class)  
Tue 10/31 FYM Session: Halloween Activities  
Wed 11/01 (No class)  
Fri 11/03   JM intro + ch. 1
Mon 11/06 (Week 12)   JM ch. 2
Tue 11/07 Convocation: TBD  
Wed 11/08   JM ch. 3
Fri 11/10   JM ch. 4
Mon 11/13 (Week 13)   JM ch. 5-6
Tue 11/14 Convocation: Kate Cross  
Wed 11/15   JM ch. 7-8
Fri 11/17   JM ch. 9
Mon 11/20 (Week 14)   JM ch. 10-11
Tue 11/21 (No class)  
(Wed 11/22) (Thanksgiving Break)  
(Fri 11/24) (Thanksgiving Break)  
Mon 11/27 (Week 15) JM ch. 12-13
Tue 11/28 FYM Session: Semester Wrap-up  
Wed 11/29   JM ch. 14-16, Epilogue, Postscript
Fri 12/01 Library Activity  
Mon 12/04 (Week 16) (Class Cancelled)  
Tue 12/05 Movie  
Wed 12/06 Movie  
Tue 12/12 11:30 AM Final Exam  

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