AIS: all pain, what gain?


Padideh Ghaemi

In fall 2014 UTSA implemented the Academic Inquiry & Scholarship (AIS) course designed to ease the transition between high school and college for incoming freshmen.  The course introduced general research and inquiry practices to students within three different schools: humanities, social sciences and natural sciences.

In class we discuss critical thinking, the theory of knowledge, the institutional structure of higher education and research paper skills. The object of this course is to expose first year students to “academic skills necessary to succeed beyond the first year.” Succeed how? I don’t see how learning about how research is done within the three different schools will help me make all A’s and get me an amazing job. Plus where are the number and statistics backing this course’s claim to academic success?

The class itself is dreaded by most freshmen, myself included.  I find it challenging to attend this course because unfortunately, the class itself doesn’t challenge me. The lessons usually consist of information I have already learned. For example, we had a lesson on basic grammar and spelling; information I felt each student should have already learned in high school, not in a college course. The university is designed to challenge us, as well as assume to a certain degree, that we already know such information. I mean isn’t that the whole point of the application process? For the school to see if the applicant understands basic knowledge needed to be successful in college courses. It’s a bit offensive to go through such a process and be required to pay for and attend a course that still treats you like a child.

Maybe this class would be more interesting and helpful if it was major specific, and focused specifically on research skills that can come from each student’s own field of study. The course could focus on how to write a résumé and nail an interview for a job. Instead of teaching us what we already know, the course should be helping us become successful in our future jobs.  I know I would find AIS more interesting if it helped me recognize how to be successful in my future field.