First-Year Experience


FYE logo

The First-Year Experience (FYE) at Guttman Community College is a comprehensive model for academic access and future success fully aligned with the inclusive, equitable mission of the College. In their courses, students examine current world issues and use New York City as a living text and laboratory, thus connecting information and concepts across multiple disciplines, contexts, and perspectives. This immersive approach equips Guttman scholars with the foundation of knowledge and skills essential to their intellectual, social, civic, and professional endeavors in and beyond the classroom. Coursework is integrated with academic advising and an array of support services. In addition, students develop constructive, self-directed academic and social relationships by participating in a diverse learning community of faculty, advisors, and peers.

FYE Philosophy

The First-Year Experience (FYE) at Guttman Community College is the springboard for our students’ future success in higher education and the professions, leveraging the social, emotional, and cognitive dimensions of learning to promote the development of the whole student. Embracing cutting-edge best practices and a robust, integrative curriculum, the FYE program establishes an inclusive, rigorous model for Guttman students to become confident owners and authors of their educational, professional, and life paths.

To promote career readiness within the curriculum, the FYE implements course design and experiences that promote and incorporate the National Association of College and Employers (NACE) Career Competencies:

  • Critical Thinking/Problem Solving
  • Oral/Written Communication
  • Teamwork/Collaboration
  • Digital Technology
  • Leadership
  • Professionalism/Work Ethic
  • Career Management
  • Global/Intercultural Fluency

FYE Goals

Upon completion of all FYE requirements, students will:

  • Engage in critical thinking and reflective learning, showing the ability to make informed choices and persist academically
  • Develop and demonstrate responsibility for independent and collaborative learning
  • Approach personal development as a lifelong, self-directed process, involving goal-setting, planning, time management, and self-motivation
  • Gain proficiency in the practices of information literacy – to locate, evaluate, and use relevant and needed information effectively
  • Construct new knowledge in various capacities, including numerical, verbal, technological, digital, and creative
  • Integrate and apply knowledge and skills from different disciplines and multiple, diverse perspectives in intentional and deliberate ways
  • Identify and use specific skills, resources, and strategies proactively and purposefully
  • Communicate clearly and effectively in written and oral forms, in person and digitally, including to articulate personal and social values
  • Explore how social identities (e.g., race, ethnicity, gender, class) intersect with identity as a student at Guttman

FYE Core Values

Self-Directed Learning
Co-Curricular Support
Fundamental Skills and Knowledge
Commitment to Equity & Inclusion

Promising Practices

Education should hold a holistic view of the self, providing means and opportunities for students to learn and appreciate themselves as whole, complex persons:

  • Create an empathetic and supportive environment for personal development and growth, including learning and academic performance
  • Engage the inner lives and lived experiences of students outside of the classroom through personal reflection
  • Explicitly connect course content to students’ personal experiences and lives
  • Give constructive, timely feedback beyond grades

Education should focus on student motivation, development, and well-being, facilitating positive attitudes toward self and others, in addition to the senses of belonging and of purpose:

  • Provide balanced amounts of both challenge and support to encourage student growth and readiness for ever-improved learning and performance
  • Acknowledge that fear of failure inhibits risk-taking and reduces student openness to pursuing interests and rising to challenges
  • Create opportunities for success in order to increase student confidence in their abilities, addressing the fear of failure
  • Offer choices of assignment topics and formats, helping students align choices with their personal and professional interests and values
  • Use collaborative activities, assignments, and interactions to help students find common ground and build an inclusive learning community that views diversity as a strength
  • Model practices that facilitate and nurture productive relationships in the classroom
  • Enable the production of new knowledge in the particular ways students comprehend and make use of course content (i.e. make meaning)

Education should emphasize a mastery-orientation toward learning:

  • Emphasize improvement, offering time in class for guided practice and skill-building
  • Explicitly communicate learning objectives for the course and each assignment
  • Provide information necessary for making decisions, performing the target tasks, and meeting desired performance goals
  • Provide low-stakes opportunities for taking intellectual risks
  • Create learning objectives and/or assignments with students, helping them identify internal motivations for doing the work and articulate what they are learning
  • Offer opportunities to submit drafts, with deadlines that do not significantly impact the corresponding assignment’s final grade
  • Have students reflect on course experiences to document challenges and risk-taking, using the reflections to focus on student development
  • Support students in articulating and embracing mastery goals (to improve or learn something important to them} in addition to performance goals (pass a class, get a certain grade, etc.)

Education should acknowledge emotions as part of the student and their learning experiences:

  • Express care for students, including acknowledging emotions in the classroom and/or in one-on-one conversations
  • Recognize students for their efforts and accomplishments in opening up, facing feelings or fears, and getting additional help
  • Encourage and model self-care
  • Consider the emotional processes underlying student behavior and resist labeling
  • Incorporate mindfulness practices focused on how to be present; to be aware of thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment; to reduce stress; and to acknowledge situations without judgment
  • Practice engaged pedagogy to promote dialogue, building trust and shared understanding in the classroom

FYE News

December 15, 2022

Over 100 Prospective Students Attended Guttman Open House

The College welcomed New York City high school students and provided on-the-spot acceptance, NEW YORK, NY (December 13, 2022) – Over 100 high school students attended an Open House at Stella and Charles Guttman Community College on Saturday, December 3, 2022. During the event, students received information about admissions, learned about the College’s academic programs […]

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May 20, 2022

A Journey of Self-Advocacy

Miyoko Wong knows that to get what you want from life, you have to take chances. They did just that when they took a leap and moved from Honolulu to New York City nine months ago to attend Guttman. In addition to making the thousand-plus mile trip, Miyoko has also been on a journey of self-advocacy and discovery. After a tumultuous time back home, New York City and Guttman have been offering Miyoko opportunities to grow and thrive. 

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March 22, 2022

Alexandra Hamlett, Information Literacy Librarian and Assistant Professor, Library Science and Information Literacy

As an information literacy librarian, Alexandra Hamlett helps students learn essential research skills, skills that include finding, evaluating, and using multiple information types in order for students to be able to access credible information for their academic and personal information needs. In 2015, she was thrilled to join Guttman College, where an innovative and creative pedagogy is embraced. Guttman’s founders outlined a non-traditional community college and developed a curriculum tied to student success. “I have been privileged to develop an information literacy program where I collaborate closely with faculty to embed information literacy skills across the First-Year Experience and the Programs of Study,” says Professor Hamlett.

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March 2, 2022

Dr. Elizabeth Wentworth, Assistant Professor of Mathematics

“I truly believe everyone learns differently and expresses their knowledge in different ways. I love seeing a student solve a problem a new way or apply to knowledge to something new. My goal is to foster intellectual curiosity rather than memorization and to build relationships where students feel safe making mistakes and trying new things.”

Dr. Elizabeth Wentworth’s doctoral dissertation investigated the integration of music instruction in the high school mathematics classroom. Since beginning at Guttman in 2016, her focus has been primarily on teaching. “Now that I am in my third year as an assistant professor I am starting to plan for more research,” says Dr. Wentworth. “I intend to continue looking at interdisciplinary work’s impact on student success and motivation.” Prior to teaching at Guttman, Dr. Wentworth taught three years of high school mathematics and coached the high school mathematics team, as well as the Academic Decathlon team. Dr. Wentworth has an undergraduate degree from the University of Rochester with majors in mathematics, music, and English, and a minor in history. Dr. Wentworth’s master’s and doctorate are from Teachers College Columbia University where she specialized in mathematics education.

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March 1, 2022

Dr. Ayisha Sookdeo, Assistant Professor, Biology

“I think it is important for students to understand that their ability to stick with tasks, goals, and passions is crucial for success. Perseverance demands effort and practice, which is the truest way to unlock our highest potential.”

Dr. Ayisha Sookdeo joined Guttman College in 2019. She came to Guttman because she was excited to get the opportunity to teach students in a college that truly emphasizes the importance of dedicated and compassionate instruction.

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January 23, 2022

Doctor Saidiya V. Hartman Visits with FYE Faculty

Doctor Saidiya V. Hartman, Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University and author of several publications, including the award-winning Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments: Intimate Histories of Social Upheaval (2020), will visit Guttman’s First-Year Experience (FYE) faculty and staff on Thursday, January 27th, to discuss the significance of Humanities research, writing, and teaching within American studies and beyond. Specific attention will be paid to identity and representation and linguistic and social justice as they relate to the FYE, including two new American Studies courses and a Composition sequence that focuses on these themes.

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November 24, 2021

Guttman’s Transformed FYE Curriculum Featured in Bringing Theory to Practice Newsletter

“Grounding a Community College Education in Social Justice and Civic Engagement,” an article written by Guttman’s Dr. Meghan Gilbert-Hickey, Area Coordinator, Writing Program; Dr. Daniel Collins, Program Coordinator, First-Year Experience; and Dr. Allyson Bregman, Director, First-Year Experience and Curriculum, was featured in the Fall 2021 edition of the Bringing Theory to Practice newsletter.

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July 8, 2021

Dr. Grace Pai, Assistant Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies

“I love and live off of the ‘aha’ moments students have in class when they suddenly understand or build a new understanding of a concept. That has always been what excites me about teaching, whether it’s in a math class or a seminar course.”

In addition to the value she places on new ideas that come into being for individual students, Dr. Grace Pai sees “a career in education as a means of alleviating poverty and bringing about social mobility and equality.“ She does not mince words about “a lack of equity that too often leads to social stratification” and the scope of this crisis: “I’ve always found it astonishing that in a ‘developed’ knowledge economy like the United States’ that stresses the importance of obtaining a college degree, we still have about 15% of students who don’t even graduate from high school.” Experienced as a counselor and math teacher in NYC public schools and holding a Ph.D. in international education and development with a specialization in applied statistics for program and impact evaluation, Dr. Pai is a powerful emerging voice in the critical areas of global learning, culturally relevant pedagogy (CRP), as well as diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) as they relate to race in America. During just the last turbulent year, beset by the global pandemic, the Assistant Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies has presented or spoken at over a dozen events on CRP, Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL), and racial justice.

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May 27, 2021

Dr. Gholdy Muhammad Leads Workshop on Historically Responsive and Culturally Relevant Pedagogy during Guttman’s Assessment Days

As the featured guest during Guttman’s Fall II Assessment Days, author of Cultivating Genius: An Equity Framework for Culturally and Historically Responsive Literacy and faculty at Georgia State University Dr. Gholdy Muhammad led an interactive workshop virtually for our instructional staff. Having presented the HILL Pedagogy – Histories, Identities, Literacies, Liberation – to the entire Guttman community in a previous virtual event, Dr. Muhammad’s session delved deeper into her framework’s overarching goals of Academic Success, Cultural Competence, and Sociopolitical Consciousness, which encompass the skill-building that students obtain and practice in class; their personal and social identities and backgrounds, in conversation with those of others; and the knowledge they gain from lived experiences outside of the classroom. In the workshop, Guttman faculty participated in revising an existing or new assignment according to the more granular criteria Dr. Mohammad has elaborated: advancing Identity, Skills, Intellect, Criticality, and Joy. The activity was designed for faculty to intentionally reflect on their higher-stakes written course assignments and directly incorporate effective, equitable, and affirming premises. This effort demonstrates and furthers the work of First-Year Experience (FYE) and English faculty to “decolonize” the curriculum, under the leadership of Assistant Professor of English and Area Coordinator for Writing Dr. Meghan Gilbert-Hickey and FYE Program Coordinator and Professor of English Dr. Dan Collins. The College’s institutional investment in student-centered, culturally relevant and responsive pedagogy, and best practices focused on equity is well-documented within the digital Center for Practice, Technology, and Innovation (CPTI).

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April 19, 2021

Faculty Feature: Dr. Karla Fuller, Associate Professor of Biology and Program Coordinator of Science

“More than anything, I want our students to know that they can succeed in science and math. They don’t have to pursue it, but I don’t want them to think that it’s not for them for any particular reason, except [if they don’t choose it.] If they want to, they can be good at it, or they can be interested in it… I just want them to feel like they belong. That it’s for them, if they want it.”

Dr. Karla Fuller, Associate Professor of Biology and Program Coordinator of Science, bears the unique distinction of being the very first faculty hired at Guttman, prior to the convocation of its inaugural first-year class in 2012 and the naming of the College. Seeing it as the urban likeness of historically Black colleges and universities (HBCU), she determined to fulfill her “mission in life” – giving students of color sustained opportunities to “have that moment like, ‘Oh, maybe I could study science’,” the realization critical to “increasing the overall percentage of underrepresented people in America who are scientists, the number of Black and Latino scientists in the field, and this means pursuing graduate studies or professional school after a Bachelor’s degree.” To this ambitious end, Dr. Fuller has spearheaded the establishment of Guttman’s Associate of Science (A.S.) degree Program of Study, forthcoming in Fall 2021.

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March 8, 2021

Guttman Faculty Dr. Thomas Martin Publishes Article and Book Exploring Maritime Carpentry

Adjunct Assistant Professor Dr. Thomas Martin’s first book, Craft Learning as Perceptual Transformation: Getting ‘the Feel’ in the Wooden Boat Workshop , has been published by Palgrave Macmillan in January 2021. Using first-person participant fieldwork in three wooden boat workshops on the East Coast of the United States, the author examines “his changing sensory experience as he learned the basics of the trade. The book reveals how experience in the workshop allows craftspeople to draw new meaning from their senses, constituting meaningful objects through perception that are invisible to the casual observer.” Dr. Martin’s research on skilled work practices is directly related to his teaching of Guttman’s hallmark Ethnographies of Work course, wherein students utilize the methods of ethnography to learn about diverse work experiences.

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