First Year Engagement Committee

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Team ID: 
College / Administrative Unit: 
Penn State Schuylkill
Date Started: 
January 2009
To decide what Schuylkill Campus wanted to establish for replacement of the First Year Seminar.

What resulted from the committee was a desire to have one program that contained both academic and co-curricular events. The committee felt that to truly retain a first year student, especially first generation college students, more than academics were needed. These students needed assistance in "life skills" too. The committee will be designing an entire first year versus first semester academic and co-curricular program for these students.


The Schuylkill Campus First Year Engagement Committee drafted the attached plan for our First Year Experience. This plan was approved. The First Year Experience course was designed to meet several goals and objectives (also attached). The course was offered during the first five weeks of the Fall and Spring 2009, and Fall 2010, semesters. By accounts of faculty and students, the course appears to be successful in meeting the needs of our incoming students, over 80% of whom are first generation college students. The First Year Engagement Committee continues to meet to discuss the course, suggest improvements, and monitor other first year activities, including FTCAP and orientation.

Steve Couch


January 22, 2009

1. How will small-classroom experiences taught by full-time faculty members be achieved for all first-year students in your unit?

Through our regularly scheduled offerings, all first year students will take at least one course with an enrollment of 25 students or fewer, taught by a full-time faculty member. FTCAP advisors will make certain that this goal is met.

2. How many credits will such courses carry?
All of the courses described above will carry three or four credits.

3. Supplemental programming:
All first year students will be required to take a one-credit First Year Experience course. Class sections will be limited to a maximum of 25 students and will be taught by qualified faculty or staff. The classes will meet three times a week for five weeks, with two meetings in small classes, and the third in large assembly-style programs. The class will focus on transitioning students from high school to college, covering topics such as the Penn State Principles, information literacy, becoming members of a diverse academic and social community, and taking advantage of the academic and non-academic resources of the campus and the university. Also, students will be encouraged to make use of the services offered by our excellent learning center, the Center for Academic Achievement. The Center provides professional and peer tutoring and workshops to assist students in achieving academic success. Involvement with the Center as tutee or tutor also supports integrating students into the Penn State Schuylkill community. In addition to these activities, students will participate in a year-long film series and discussions; FTCAP; New Student Orientation; and shared social, cultural and intellectual events. They will also gain insights through the shared experience of community service in the greater community through their collective involvement with a year-long First-Year Class Project, which will be designed to offer a service-learning experience for students through a project that will leave a lasting legacy for the wider community.

4. Assessment plan.

A First Year Engagement Committee was formed to develop our campus’s First Year Engagement Plan. The Committee will continue to convene to develop a comprehensive assessment plan for our first year experience components. The plan will include, but will not be limited to, collection and analysis of academic performance, student retention and time-to-degree data, as well as comparative responses to NSSE and other survey data. During the fall of 2008, the Campus administered the Noel-Levitz Student Satisfaction Inventory for the first time. We intend to administer this instrument again in the fall of 2009 and to conduct follow-up surveys with that cohort of students throughout their time at Penn State Schuylkill. In addition, the Center for Academic Achievement gathers and analyses important data related to the success of students who utilize their services.

Nichol Andel
Harold Aurand
Stephen Couch (Chair)
Michael Gallis
Dwayne Hunt
Elyce Lykins
Jason Reuscher
Matthew Swatchick
Michael Verhagen
Anita Vickers

FYS Goals and Objectives

The First-Year Seminar aims to facilitate the successful transition of new students to Penn State Schuylkill Campus through their engagement with other members of the campus community and through their introduction to the use of university and campus resources.

Goal 1: Enhance student understanding of the cultural expectations of the Penn State community.
Objective 1.1: Students will have knowledge of the Penn State Principles.
Objective 1.2: Students will have knowledge of diversity within community and global society.

Goal 2: Enhance student information literacy skills.
Objective 2.2: Students will evaluate information sources critically.
Objective 2.3: Students will demonstrate electronic communications skills.

Goal 3: Facilitate student self-assessment and goal clarification.
Objective 3.1: Students will participate in at least one activity that provides information about majors and academic programs.
Objective 3.2: Students will have knowledge of selected academic and student support services and assess how these programs might fit their individual needs.

Goal 4: Enhance student skills needed to work collaboratively on both in-class and out-of-class assignments.
Objective 4.1: Students will participate in a collaborative learning activity in the first year.
Objective 4.2: Students will have knowledge of group roles and facilitation skills and use them in a diverse community.

Goal 5: Facilitate student participation in Penn State Schuylkill Campus co-curricular resources and involvement.
Objective 5.1: Students will participate in social, cultural, and intellectual events.
Objective 5.2: Students will participate in academic and student support services.
Objective 5.3: Students will demonstrate knowledge of the relationship ip between wellness and academic success.

Contact Person: 
Stephen Couch
  • Stephen Couch, Chair
  • Nicole Andel, Member
  • Harold Aurand, Member
  • Michael Gallis, Member
  • Dwayne Hunt, Member
  • Elyce Lykins, Member
  • Jason Reuscher, Member
  • Michael Verhagen, Member
  • Anita Vickers, Member