Course Syllabus

CGS/ARTSC 0092: University Seminar (Online)



CGS/ARTSC 0092 University Seminar provides new and/or transfer students with the skills necessary to maximize their potential for academic success at the University of Pittsburgh. During this course students will be exposed to various University resources; explore educational and career planning; gain academic confidence; and will become familiar with and utilize cognitive science-based skills and competencies necessary for college success.

Course Prerequisites

This course has no prerequisites.


Upon successful completion of this course, you will be able to:

  1. Develop and apply effective study habits and skills to maximize your academic success.
  2. Identify and articulate personal academic and career goals that align with your skills, values and interests and continue to explore interest and abilities with confidence and purpose.
  3. Identify and access campus and student resources critical to your college success.
  4. Explain the value of academic integrity and follow academic standards, policies, and procedures.
  5. Develop a network and community of support.


We will use open educational resources (OER) in this class. Textbook readings and materials can be accessed through our Canvas Course site.


University Seminar is an online hybrid course offered through Canvas. The course combines web-based asynchronous with synchronous instruction and promotes active learning through technology, open educational resources, exploration, self- reflection, and group discussions.

An Important Note About Online Classes

Online courses are very convenient for students because they provide additional flexibility in learning. However, students should not think that an online course is an excuse for neglect of academic responsibility. Please be prepared to conscientiously work and give this course the attention it deserves. I recommend that you log in on Mondays and then several times throughout the week, review the announcements area for updates and note any assignments due that week. I will use the class report function in Canvas to review student activity in the course shell.


You will earn one elective credit on a CREDIT / NO CREDIT basis upon successful completion of this course. Since this is a seminar-based class, our work this term will include elements common to seminars such as journals, collaborative projects, weekly readings and activities, and participation in class discussions. To receive credit for this course, you must complete the following requirements and earn a minimum of C as your final grade.

Attendance and Participation: 30%

  • Zoom Virtual Workshops (4 x 3 pts each)
  • Discussion Prompts (5 x 4 pts each)

Pitt Onboarding Modules: 15%

  • Teaching Center’s Student Online Toolkit (counted as C/I)
  • Study Lab’s Module (counted as C/I)
  • Hillman Library’s Academic Integrity Module (counted as C/I)

Online Self-Assessments & Consultations: 20%

  • LASSI Study Skills & Meet with an academic coach (counted as C/I)
  • YouScience & Meet with a career counselor (counted as C/I)

E-Portfolio Journal: 35%

Self-Reflection entries (9 x 5pts each)

Total: 100%

Legend: C/I = Complete / Incomplete

Grade Scale

A+ 99-100% A 93-98% A- 90-92% B+ 88-89% B 83-87% B- 80-82% C+ 78-79% C 73-77% C- 70-72% D+ 68-69% D 63-67 D- 60-62%

Course Requirements

Attendance & Participation (30%)

Class participation and engagement are an important component of this course and are measured through a set of activities such as your attendance and participation in four virtual synchronous workshops and contributions to discussion prompts.

Virtual Workshops

Our class meets virtually on four Mondays: 1/10, 2/7, 3/14, and 4/25. On those dates, we will meet at 5pm on Zoom (you can access the Zoom link for each meeting from within our Canvas course site). Those meetings will last 50 minutes. You are required to attend all four workshops.

Discussion Prompts

You are expected to actively participate in asynchronous class discussions throughout the semester. Discussion topics will be based on the content assigned for reading and journal writing in given weeks. You will create an initial post and respond to at least one classmate. Detailed instructions and an e-netiquette are provided in the Start Here module in Canvas.

PITT Onboarding Modules (15%)

Pitt University Offices and Centers offer various onboarding / orientation modules in Canvas to help new students prepare for their first semester and academic studies at Pitt. As part of this course, you will be required to complete: The Student Online Toolkit (focus: Canvas and education technology); the Study Lab module (focus: active study skills and strategies), and Hillman Library’s Academic Integrity Module (focus: academic honesty and critical inquiry). The submission of these assignments is graded as Complete/Incomplete.

Online Self-Assessments & Consultations (20%)

Over the course of the semester, you will complete several free self-assessment skills and personality inventories as part of your textbook readings. You will be asked to submit the results for only two of them: LASSI and YouScience. Access to these two inventories is provided by Pitt’s Study Lab and The Career Center. You will also set up a meeting with an academic coach and a career councilor to debrief your results and discuss actions if necessary. Detailed instructions are provided in the Assignments area in Canvas. The submission of these assignments is graded as Complete/Incomplete.

E-Portfolio (35%)

You will use the questions provided in each week’s readings and discussions to reflect on the content covered in class and relate this knowledge to the experiences you engage in during your first semester at Pitt (classwork, campus events, workshops, extra-curricular activities, studying, etc.). You will set up an E-Portfolio in Canvas and create a page for each of the weeks a journal reflection is due. On select weeks, you will be asked to choose and share for class discussion an excerpt from your journal entry and offer comments, feedback, and ideas to the postings of your classmates (See Discussion Prompts). Further instructions for your E-Portfolio are provided in the Start Here module in Canvas.


This is an abbreviated version of the course syllabus. To view the full syllabus (incl. university and class policies and the course schedule), click the syllabus button below.

University Seminar Syllabus (PDF)