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Freshman Cornerstone Course Meets Multiple Educational Goals

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1998 Annual Conference


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 28, 1998

Start Date

June 28, 1998

End Date

July 1, 1998



Page Count


Page Numbers

3.292.1 - 3.292.6

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Paper Authors

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Barry M. Lunt

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C. Richard Helps

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 2248

Freshman Cornerstone Course Meets Multiple Educational Goals

Barry M. Lunt, Richard G. Helps Brigham Young University


Many disciplines offer cornerstone courses. The goals for these courses typically include 1) helping students develop a vision of the profession, 2) leveling and 3) acquainting the students with the faculty. Each of these goals is important.

Developing a vision of the profession enables students to decide whether their chosen major is well-suited to their individual aptitudes and interests. This in turn decreases student confusion and indecision, thus decreasing the number of semesters students take to graduate. There are concomitant decreases in student attrition and cost per student.

Leveling (the process of bringing all students to essentially the same skill/awareness level) ensures that all students have a common base thus diminishing frustration of both the advanced and the less well-prepared students. The instructors of subsequent courses can expect all students to be competent with a basic set of educational “tools” or skills.

Research shows that cornerstone courses have, in general, been successful in meeting one or more of these objectives1,2. Brigham Young University (BYU) has developed a course to address all three of these goals. In addition the BYU faculty has jointly and comprehensively reviewed the syllabus to identify those skills which can and should be taught at the freshman level. We have also identified a mechanism whereby these skills can be blended into a single coherent freshman course.

Students can establish relationships with faculty early on. This not only exposes them to different teaching styles but also to faculty who are enthusiastic about specific technical topics. It also helps students and faculty to develop mentoring relationships around common interests.

Freshman educational needs

College freshmen are often considered to be more “at risk” than other college students. The term “at risk” in this context encompasses several meanings, such as high drop-out rates, lower grades or other contributing factors such as inadequate study skills or personal habits, all of which may lead to disappointing performance.

Lunt, B. M., & Helps, C. R. (1998, June), Freshman Cornerstone Course Meets Multiple Educational Goals Paper presented at 1998 Annual Conference, Seattle, Washington.

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