Formative Experiences


Designing a Formative Experience Course

Liberal Studies Formative Experiences (FE) facilitate students’ engagement in independent experiential learning outside the classroom. Formative Experiences fall in one of five categories: creative/research; international experience; internship; leadership; and service.

Four researchers assemble scientific instruments at the beach, sweating under the hot sun. The water is crystal clear.

What are the learning objectives of Formative Experience courses?

There are no required learning objectives for Formative Experience courses. 

What aspects of course design are required to certify a course for Formative Experience?

The course submission must reflect the following information:

Formative Experience courses facilitate students’ engagement in independent experiential learning outside the classroom. Courses must engage students in one of these five types of experiences: creative/research, international experience, internship, leadership, and service.

Examples of specific experiences that might qualify as a FE include:

  • Honors in the Major theses
  • Lab research
  • Curating an art show
  • Recital or exhibition of creative works
  • Clinical or other practicum
  • Fieldwork
  • Student teaching
  • Structured mentoring
  • Global Scholars
  • Entrepreneurship or innovation
  • Specific program work in Living-Learning Communities (LLCs)
  • Counseling children in an after-school or supplemental program

Students must complete an oral or written reflection on the experience that is the focus of the course such as:

  • The relevance of the experience to past course work or disciplinary training or to life and career goals.
  • Lessons learned (i.e., how the student might approach similar projects or settings differently in the future).
  • A journal.
  • A mock graduate school or job application or interview in which the student articulates the value of the experience.
  • Any other reflection appropriate to the discipline and/or experience.

The student’s performance must be evaluated by qualified faculty or staff.

Credit hours:

  • Formative Experiences courses can be variable credit (0 or more hours).

Note: Only college-level courses (1000 or higher) are approved for the Liberal Studies curriculum.

What language must be included in the syllabus?

There are two components of required syllabus language:

  1. Statements approved by the Faculty Senate, and
  2. Statements for each Liberal Studies designation the course is certified for


Faculty Senate required syllabus language:
All syllabi are required to include the syllabus language statements approved by the FSU Faculty Senate, available at

Liberal Studies required syllabus language:

The following statement can either be 1) adapted specifically to the course content, or 2) pasted verbatim into the syllabus. In either case, the meaning of the language should be clearly communicated to students.

This course has been approved to meet FSU’s Liberal Studies Formative Experience requirement and develops your ability to develop and use knowledge by engaging in a hands-on experience outside of the classroom.

  1. In order to fulfill this requirement, the student must earn a “C–” or higher or an “S” in the course if taken on an “S/U” basis.

Can I combine Formative Experiences with any other Liberal Studies areas?

  • Formative Experiences may also be certified as satisfying the Upper-Division Writing and Oral Communication Competency requirements, but they may not carry any other Liberal Studies designation. 

Is there a syllabus template I can use to develop a Formative Experience course?

Yes. While there is no strictly required format for syllabi, our office has created the following document that you may use to facilitate the process of creating a Liberal Studies syllabus:  Syllabus Guide - Formative Experience

Who should I contact if I have more questions or concerns?

  • Faculty may contact Kestrel Strickland with any questions about Liberal Studies course design, as well as questions about using the Curricular Request Application (CRA) to submit curricular requests for Liberal Studies approval.
  • You may also browse the FAQ for commonly asked questions and answers.