Placement and Inquiry Seminars

It is important for students to take three key courses during their first year as students at Clarion University.  These courses include a math class, a writing class, and an inquiry seminar.  Students access their placement for these three courses (math, writing, and inquiry seminar) via D2L.  Please refer to this link for instructions.

Mathematics Placement - Incoming freshmen at Clarion Campus are placed into their first college mathematics course based on the high school mathematics courses and grades in addition to the SAT and ACT mathematics score. 

Students may take remediation modules and retake the placement test in order to try to place into a higher math course.  Please log in to ALEKS to complete your personalized learning modules.

Writing Placement (English 110 or 111) – Directed Self-Placement is a process through which students, with knowledge and guidance, choose the first-year writing course that best fits their needs and academic plans. Students’ reading and writing histories and their degree of comfort with academic writing should also aid in the selection process.  For more information, click here.  For questions, contact the Director of Writing, Dr. Rich Lane at

Inquiry Seminars –  Inquiry seminars are designed exclusively for first-year students. These courses help you transition to college by guiding you through the ways in which college-educated people ask questions, gather information to address the questions, and then share with other people what they’ve learned.  Inquiry seminars are small, no more than 25 students per section, and you’ll work with your classmates to explore and find answers to important questions in an academic discipline. Your professor will work with you on both the topic and the best techniques for learning.  Incoming freshmen at Clarion choose their top three choices for an inquiry seminar and are placed according to their preferences.  There are several inquiry seminars available during the fall 2017 semester.


In an era of modern travel, the spread of a contagious viral or bacterial agents across the globe is a real threat. Whether it is an avian flu that has jumped species or a weaponized form of anthrax, these agents must be identified, contained, and neutralized. Therefore, students are tasked with answering “How does a public health team combat global pandemics?” This course is designed to introduce students to the various roles of public health: scientists including epidemiologists, health care workers like doctors and nurses, and government agencies that handles policy and management. Students will work cooperatively as part of a public health team to research various real world pandemic scenarios using scientific literature and real datasets.
TR 9:30 and 11:00 


Students will begin exploring photography through the statement “A Picture is Worth a Thousands Words.” They’ll start identifying its value, meaning and breadth from different perspectives. They’ll be encouraged to investigate the value of a “picture” in communicating information in a variety of settings, including casual (phone, social media, selfies, etc.) and professional photography (art, photo journalism, exploratory science, earth observation, etc.). Each topic will guide the students to explore an important aspect of photography that is considered an essential factor in producing a “good” photo. They’ll be also encouraged to experiment with different tools and techniques in imaging, comparing technologies, lighting settings, media types, environments and subjects.
TR 9:30


This course focuses on the question: what’s funny and why? What makes some things funny to some people and not to others? The course explores questions about the inter-relationships between forms of comedy and humor and different societies and groups: What functions does comedy serve in a culture? What is comedy, anyway? What’s humor? What forms do they take? The course will look at various theories of comedy from different disciplines and consider comic texts from different periods, cultures, and genres. Course will also consider how issues of race, gender, class, and sexuality relate to the comic and how they are represented, constructed, and affected by comedy.
TR 3:30


Philosopher and writer Ralph Waldo Emerson once defined success as: “To find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.”  Emerson believed that we had a responsibility to those around us—to family, to friends and even to perfect strangers—and that how we treated others defined our own success in life. In our day to day lives, we may perform acts of kindness that help to make others’ lives easier, but we rarely examine these acts or consider them in the broader context of our families, our classrooms or our country. Today, citizenship requires that people be knowledgeable about public issues and possess the capacity to work toward solutions by acting together. But this coming together would not be possible unless we felt some responsibility for those around us. Our history is marked by movements—from women’s suffrage to the abolition of slavery—that were founded on empathy, understanding and a passion for making others’ lives better. But are there limits to being your “brother’s keeper”? Is there a point at which empathy can actually be a “bad” thing or at which we are better off turning inward and focusing on ourselves?  Throughout the course we will explore questions of how our individual needs and desires can both connect with or clash with serving others through volunteerism, activism, and also simply in our everyday lives in our relationships with family and friends.
MWF 9:00


Have you ever asked yourself why you hate stuff that everybody else loves? Have you ever tried really hard to enjoy what some people consider to be a “cool” band, only to fail miserably at it? Are you secretly ashamed of some things you really like or don’t like? In this Inquiry Seminar, students will explore the factors that shape our tastes in many areas such as music, books, movies, art, leisure time activities, and food. We’ll discuss related issues - such as how what we love and hate defines us and others (as jocks, nerds, foodies, snobs, etc.). And, to boot, we will also learn how to become more understanding and tolerant of other people’s tastes.
MWF 12:00 and 1:00


Are you one of the smartest people you know? Would you like to be even smarter? PHIL 101 will help you to better understand many of the fundamental ideas that drive this world and, in doing so, will lead you to a deeper understanding of just about everything. The course will also be a lot of fun, as you will learn not only about the history and nature of ideas, but will also develop a unique philosophical vision by which to appreciate their importance. At end of the semester, you will be in a position to judge, for any idea you ever encounter, whether and why it is truly, and genuinely, great.
MWF 10:00 and 1:00

We often connect our identities to family and kinship, but many of us have lost touch with some of our family history. Have you ever wondered how to find your past? Have you wondered what your DNA has to do with your identity? This course will give you the opportunity to research your past and evaluate the art and the science of constructing family history. We will focus on finding reliable research sources and use technology to create interpretations from our findings. Come take a journey into your own past, using genealogy sources, photographs, and family documents along the way.
TR 11:00 and online for Clarion Online students only


It has been estimated that in the last 100 years more than 100 million people have died because of war. What are the causes of war? Can war be prevented? In this course we will explore these important questions through in-class debate, evaluation of popular media and historical materials, and simulated peace talks.
MWF 1:00

Foreign Language Placement Exam - Students who are interested in taking a foreign language course or are required to take foreign language courses for their degree should take the foreign language placement exam prior to enrolling in courses.  Directions on how to complete the placement exam can be found here.

Last Updated 8/2/17