Freshman Seminar, UNIVERSITY 102, Fall 2009


Meets on Tuesdays @ 10:00 - 12:40 in the Carneros Room

Instructor: Marilyn Cannon, Professor Emeritus, Biology Dept.
Office: Darwin 216
Phone: 664 - 2717 (voicemail)
Office Hours: Tuesday 1:00 - 2:00 (drop in) & Thursday 10:-- 12 (by appointment).

Peer Adviser: Melissa Fabry
Office Hours: by appointment

Required Textbook: Sackheim, G.I. 2008. An Introduction to Chemistry for Biology Students, 9th Edition. Benjamin Cummings, San Francisco.

PLEASE NOTE: No cell phones, iPods or other electronic devices will be on during classtime! Please turn them off!

Course Description

Welcome to the First Year Experience! Students often feel somewhat disoriented and overwhelmed during their first year in college. These feelings arise for a variety of reasons, such as living away from home for the first time, having unrealistic expectations of the ease of achieving success, having underdeveloped study skills, having time management problems, and the new, significant differences of being in university courses compared to high school courses.

Designed to foster a supportive learning community, provide mentoring, enhance academic skills, personal skills (self-awareness, responsibility, relationships with others), and knowledge about campus resources to facilitate successful transition from high school to college. Other aspects covered are choosing a major, career exploration, health and social issues (sexual assault/harassment, alcohol/drug abuse), information competencies, code of conduct, and diversity/multiculturalism.

Mission Statement

Sonoma State University's Freshman Interest Group program provides small thematic living/learning communities to enhance the academic experience during the freshman year. We promote intellectual pursuits, personal responsibility, civic engagement, and positive intentional relationships with faculty and peers.

Goals of this course:

1. Build mentoring relationships with the instructors and peer mentor.

2. Become familiar with the programs, facilities, and services available to assist students in the transition from high school to college.

3. Develop skills to achieve academic goals (e.g., time management, study skills).

4. Recognize that appreciating diversity is an integral part of a university education.

5. Develop a support group among classmates and peers.

We will focus on the following during this seminar:

1. Personal development -- including values and goals, career and life planning, and physical and emotional health.

2. Academic skills -- improving skills in areas such as time management, library research, test-taking, note taking, computer networking, and oral presentations.

3. Orientation to the University -- academic programs, academic support services, policies, and procedures.

See Campus Policies:

4. The Theme of "Pre-Health Professions" will be extensively explored.


Important Information: Please Read Carefully!

Attendance: Mandatory

Grading: You will receive a LETTER GRADE based on your performance during the semester.

Most of what you will get out of this course will take place in class, so it is crucial that you be here! The idea that "what you put into a course determines what you will get out of it" applies to this freshman seminar class. Much of your grade is based on Attendance. No more than 1 unexcused absence, or you will not receive an A for the course. Call or email Marilyn or Melissa in advance of class time if you are ill, or for some other good reason not to be in attendance. (If attendance wasn't so important for your success, we wouldn't stress it so much!) It is your personal responsibility to complete assignments if you are absent for any reason. Find out from your classmates what we did.

Academic and Other Advising:

We require you to meet with each of us for 2 one-on-one meetings during the semester

These one-on-one meetings will allow us to check in with you to see how the semester is going, answer any advising questions you may have, and provide any support you may need. Feel free to see either of us as often as you would like

Personal Journals: As an important part of this course, you will be keeping a personal journal. In your journal, you will be recording your thoughts and feelings about the semester. At least once a week, we would like you to write about your experiences for that week (more often is even better!). Is collage what you expected? What courses are giving you the most difficulty? What is it like to be away from home? Are you using your time well? Are you getting enough sleep; eating well? Are you feeling ok?

WebCT: We will be using this online site that is part of SSU to write journals, autobiographies and blogs. More info in class about these assignments.

Wikispaces: You will be creating a webpage or pages at this site with your presentation group. More info in class about these web-based assignments.

Students with Disabilities

"If you have a disabling condition that may substantially limit your ability to participate in this class, please contact the Disabled Student Services office in Salazar 1049, phone no. 664-2677, for confidential assistance and accommodation authorization." It is important that you have extra time and/or accomodations for tests, etc., so please be sure to do this.


"If you are a student with a disability and you think you may require assistance evacuating a building in the event of a disaster, you should inform your instructor about what kind of assistance you may require. You and your instructor should discuss your specific needs and the kinds of precautions that should be made in advance of such an event (i.e. assigning a buddy to guide you down the stairway). We encourage you to take advantage of these preventative measures as soon as possible and contact the Disabled Student Services office if other classroom accommodations are needed."

Campus Resources:

Many resources are available to you at Sonoma State University.. Our hope is that by the end of the semester you will have learned about most of the resources available to you on the SSU campus.


We will be discussing a special community service/civic engagement project that will be ongoing throughout the semester.

Go to our Schedule for the Fall Semester!

Go to our Class Homepage!

See your Discussion Group Photos!

Go to Prof. Cannon's Homepage


Marilyn I. Cannon, Sept. 14, 2009