What is a Senior Seminar?

A senior seminar is a class that students take during their last year of study in college. Most colleges require that students take at least one seminar, but some schools will ask that students take two seminars or do an independent study project or internship in lieu of one of those seminars. These courses focus more on learning through communication with others in the class, including the professor and other students, instead of doing independent reading and working on projects or assignments.

Seminar Layout

Though some students view a seminar as an easier course than traditional college classes, these seminars still require a large amount of work. In a traditional seminar class, the professor will present students with a syllabus that tells them the materials and resources they need to read before the next class. This list may include chapters in a textbook, chapters in smaller or shorter books, articles that the professor hands out in class or articles students can read online. The professor will ask a few questions during the next class to get the students talking and will then encourage them to share their own thoughts and feelings about those materials with each other.

Types of Seminars

The basic seminar emphasis thought and communication over writing and other work. Instead of handing out tests or quizzes, professors will grade students based on how much they communicated in class and how often they participated in discussions. A second type of seminar is one that combines communications with writing and research. While the professor will talk about specific subjects and topics, students will do their own research and write a paper around that topic. Social work students might spend an entire semester talking about identifying child abuse or working with disenfranchised groups like the homeless.

Benefits of Seminars

A senior seminar has some clear benefits over more traditional classes, including the fact that it lets students learn from others who came from a different background. Social work students may have the chance to hear from students who were previously homeless or those who came from cities that do not offer support systems for people of certain populations. According to Kori Morgan, these classes can also help students develop the professional communications skills that they'll need on the job later. Students who want to work in the social work profession must know how to speak and work with people from backgrounds different from their own.

Alternatives to Seminars

While seminars are a common requirement for college students today, there are some alternatives to those classes. The first is an independent study project. A student may agree to spend 10 hours or more working for a social work agency each week over the course of a semester for course credit. Some colleges give students the option of writing a thesis paper instead of taking a seminar class. Those students meet with their advisers to come up with a topic. The adviser will guide the student's work, suggest changes they can make to their topic and help them present their papers for credit.

Social work students are just some of the college students who might take a seminar class as a senior. Senior seminar courses give students the chance to learn from each other, think outside of the box and spend more time expressing their thoughts and opinions on course materials.

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