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Resources for Faculty Teaching in the First Seminar Program

Resources for Faculty Teaching in the First Seminar Program

Welcome all faculty teaching in the First Seminar Program (FSP).  As the first “writing intensive” course taken by all TCNJ students, the FSP is a wonderful opportunity to use writing in a variety of ways that will enhance the learning in your course.

Remember, that “writing intensive” does not mean assigning a long research paper.  Rather, it means incorporating informal and formal types of writing throughout the semester that will:

  • engage students with course concepts and questions
  • allow students to explore ideas in new ways
  • give students practice in the formal structures and styles expected of college-level work in your discipline
  • establish revision as a standard for all college-level writing

Specifically, all FSPs should include 16-20 pages of polished written work in the form of 4 to 6 papers, with at least one of these entailing a detailed revision process based on feedback from you on macro-level issues in the drafts.

This does not require that you become a copy editor.  In fact, it’s important that you do not equate draft feedback with editing, since this practice will only reinforce for students the notion that revision means correcting spelling and grammar errors.  Proofreading is essential, and you should require it, but students also need to learn how to engage in a conversation about their ideas so that they see revision as a process of making their writing more effective: logically, factually, and rhetorically.

The Writing Program is here to offer assistance with any questions you have about designing and sequencing writing assignments, providing feedback on drafts, and grading.  Resources include:

  • This webpage with links to variety of documents and websites (updated on a regular basis)
  • Workshops in September and October (see the main page for details and sign-ups)
  • Individual faculty consultations (call or email me directly:, or ext. 2864)

If you need something that you can’t find here, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Resources on Designing Paper Assignments


  • “Designing Assignments and Presenting Them to Students,” by Margaret Proctor, University of Toronto.

  • “Characteristics of Effective Writing Assignments” from the Effective Writing Center at the University of Maryland, University College.

  • “Sequenced Microthemes: A Great Deal of Thinking for Your Students, and Relatively Little Grading for You,” Ray Smith, Director, Campus Writing Program, Indiana University, Bloomington.