Critical Inquiry (AFCI 101)

Academic Affairs

What is Critical Inquiry?

Critical inquiry is the process of gathering and evaluating information, ideas, and assumptions from multiple perspectives to produce well-reasoned analysis and understanding, and leading to new ideas, applications and questions.

The Critical Inquiry Program at USC Aiken, in conjunction with our First Year Reading Experience (FYRE), focuses on developing stronger critical thinking and collaborative learning skills by providing incoming freshmen with structured, but student-driven, opportunities for creative problem-solving in a group-based context. The main element in the Critical Inquiry Program is the AFCI 101 course. Using the First Year Reading Experience book as a text, AFCI 101 is designed to help students learn to apply the Critical Inquiry process by identifying and analyzing the main themes and ideas in an assigned reading; demonstrate information literacy by gathering, evaluating, and using information effectively and responsibly; and exhibit an ability to consider multiple ideas and perspectives and to communicate that understanding.

Why is Critical Inquiry important?

The development of critical thinking skills has been identified as one of the greatest needs in postsecondary education in our ever-expanding global economy and in the continually evolving workplace.

At USC Aiken, we pride ourselves on the quality of our curriculum and the successes of our graduates. However, we readily accept there will always be room for improvement. We also believe that regardless of the academic preparation of our incoming freshmen, all students have the right to be as successful as possible and that it is our responsibility to assist them. To that end, the Critical Inquiry Program at USC Aiken is designed to help produce undergraduates who have the confidence and skills to identify complex problems and develop strategies for solving those problems in academic and everyday life. 

USC Aiken's Critical Inquiry course (AFCI 101), which went into effect for all incoming students in Fall 2011, supports USC Aiken's Mission as a comprehensive liberal arts institution to challenge students to acquire and develop the skills, knowledge, and values necessary for success in a dynamic global environment.

All freshmen must take Critical Inquiry (AFCI 101) in their first semester of enrollment at USC Aiken. Students in degree programs which require more than 16 credit hours in the first semester of enrollment may complete Critical Inquiry during their second academic semester. Transfer students are not required to take the Critical Inquiry course; however, the one credit hour requirement will still need to be completed within the degree program.

Link to AFCI and the First Year Experience (Center for Student Achievement)

Advisor Quick Guide

QEP First Year Assessment Report

QEP Second Year Assessment Report

For more information on this program, please contact:

Dr. Michelle Vieyra, CI Coordinator, 803-641-3608, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Dr. Timothy Lintner, Asst. Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, 803-641-3564, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.