Every student enrolled in an IntroSem has chosen to be there. Therefore, these courses are some of the most innovative and intellectually vibrant on campus. Students value IntroSems as introductions to the questions and methods of a discipline, as well as opportunities to work directly with faculty whom they admire. For faculty, IntroSems provide an opportunity to meet and mentor engaged and eager first- and second-year students who share their intellectual interests.
Benefits of Teaching an IntroSem
Valuable Relationships: IntroSems connect faculty with students around shared intellectual interests in an intimate and focused setting. Many undergraduates describe these courses as the places in which they first learn to see themselves as potential contributors to, rather than simply consumers of, knowledge. Faculty often find/get/gather/cull fresh perspectives from their students, and often discover mentees, future research assistants, and potential collaborators in these courses.
Marketing Support: Online and direct mail publications sent to all frosh and sophomores helps students easily find your class and sign up in advance. If your class draws more sign-ups than spaces, students write statements of interest and you choose the students in your class. Faculty also receive support in designing course descriptions that will appeal to novices.
Teaching Resources: IntroSems courses are vibrant spaces in which students actively grapple with the questions, controversies, and complexities of a discipline. The program provides faculty with resources to create engaging courses, such as funds for course development assistance, class field trips, and hands-on projects. In addition, a dedicated academic technology specialist supports IntroSems faculty with innovative projects ranging from creating podcasts to designing hybrid courses. Faculty also receive numerous pedagogical supports, including workshops on managing challenging classroom conversations and one-on-one consultations on course design.
A Laboratory for Teaching: IntroSems faculty are a community dedicated to innovative teaching. The small size and flexibility in scope and subject, and the resources available to instructors make IntroSems great places for curricular invention in both course topics and classroom activities. In IntroSems, instructors have developed new interdisciplinary approaches; experimented with teaching aids such as computer animation; trained students in public speaking; created maps of Stanford’s gardens for use in the Admissions offices; and tried out content for future classes.