Berks First-Year Engagement Plan

Berks FYE Plan (PDF)

*Use this form if your campus’s First-Year Engagement Plan REQUIRES a First-Year Seminar of all students.
First-Year Engagement Plan Submission Form
Commonwealth Campuses

Submission Date: February 1, 2009
Submitted By: Ad-Hoc Committee FYEP Berks
Title: Berks FYEP
Campus: Berks

1. First-Year Seminar characteristics. Does your first-year seminar meet the following criteria? All criteria below (a-e) must be met by for the plan to fulfill the legislation.

The criterion below is followed by your Campus.

a. taught by tenure-line or other regular, full-time faculty members (not staff or graduate students*)
b. taught in the student’s campus of enrollment (in other words, you will provide a FYS for all incoming students at your campus)
c. taught in sections of not more than 25 students
d. academic in content, exemplifying the full weightiness and expectations of University-level coursework (ideally satisfying General Education or other College or Major requirements, though this is not essential)
e. explicitly address the FYE goals and objectives, which are listed here:


  • Goal 1: to engage students in learning and orient them to the scholarly community from the outset of their undergraduate studies in a way that will bridge to later experiences in their chosen majors, and
  • Goal 2: to facilitate students’ adjustment to the high expectations, demanding workload, increased liberties, and other aspects of the transition to college life.


  • Objective 1: to introduce students to University study
  • Objective 2: to introduce students to Penn State as an academic community, including fields of study and areas of interest available to students
  • Objective 3: to acquaint students with the learning tools and resources available at Penn State
  • Objective 4: to provide an opportunity for students to develop relationships with full-time faculty and other students in an academic area of interest to them
  • Objective 5: to introduce students to their responsibilities as part of the University community.

2. Credit requirements. How many credits does your first-year seminar provide?

  • Other
  • All first year seminar courses (PSU 005 designation) will be taught in the 3+1 linked format. The 1 credit FYS course will address the following

1. To provide opportunities for students to acclimate to their new academic environment. [Create an understanding of the educational process and tools for success within the academic setting. Provide students opportunities to create a sense of belonging.]
2. To provide a socialization process that integrates students into the scholarly community. [Understand the organization of the University. Understand faculty and administrative roles and support services at the campus.]
3. To develop an understanding of the role of the research university in society. [To understand how Penn State Berks impacts and serves the community. To understand how Penn State Berks mission fits into the mission of the University.]
4. To provide opportunities for students to engage in and reflect on civic, social, and personal responsibility. [The implications of choices and actions.]
5. To integrate the application and synthesis of knowledge and skills acquired in the FYS to enhance the learning objectives of the linked course(s). [Making connections and integrating ideas across disciplines. To enhance students’ preparedness in general education and survey courses so that faculty may set higher education practices.]


  • Literature indicates that students that participate in linked or learning communities are more likely to be retained.
  • Studies suggest that the performance in the linked courses will be enhanced via the development of skills in the first-year seminar.
  • Studies offer evidence that links student satisfaction with college to student success (based upon student’s personal goals, grade point averages, access into major, persistence to degree, time to degree completion).
  • The one-credit portion of the FYS will include a formal meeting time with the team of faculty involved in the learning community to meet the criteria of the University that the FYS aide students in developing relationships with full-time faculty at the University.

The exception to the 3+1 format will include established FYS with the S/T designation already being taught at Berks. These courses include; AG150S (2cr), IST11S (1cr), ENGL30T (3cr).

3. Supplemental programming. [This question must be answered unless your unit will require all students to take a 3-credit first-year seminar. If your unit will require all students to take a 3-credit first-year seminar, this question is optional, though responding is encouraged because supplemental programming will help to make your unit’s overall first-year experience richer.]

Identify and briefly describe the additional components (other than the small-class experience) that you plan to offer, such as other courses, special advising programs, intensive orientation experiences, special programs offered by Student Affairs, etc., to meet the goals and objectives of the First-Year Engagement Plan: (Please limit your answer to 500 words or less.)

The Academic and Student Affairs units at Penn State Berks will offer a variety of activities and experiences to support the first year experience. Below are just a few of the activities available to students involved in the FYE.

  • Intensive Orientation Program – Orientation experiences include; small group activities with their FYS groups, meetings with faculty, peer mentors and orientation leaders.
  • Co-curricular workshops – Out of class activities consist of workshops on critical topics or events that are not otherwise included in class but meet the goals of the FYS. Students will complete assignments for out-of-class activities. Workshops topics include; Library Research/Web Skills , Career Awareness and Planning, Technology , Advising policies and academic procedures , Academic Survival Skills, Diversity, Health and Wellness and Cultural Events
  • Early advising meetings for FY students.
  • Cultural and diversity events scheduled through Student Affairs
  • Community lecture series

4. Assessment plan. How will you assess the extent to which the First-Year Engagement goals and objectives are met? (Please limit your answer to 500 words or less.)

Assessment of First Year Engagement Plan Student Learning Outcomes
Penn State Berks

Who is
Spring 2008NSSE SurveyFeb 08-Apr 08SR PRA*First Year/ SeniorsBaseline
Summer 2009Survey of FTCAP, Survey Student Orientation ExperienceLast week in June,
3rd week in August
DR AA**,
AS CL***
All new incoming studentsBaseline
Fall 2009Survey of FYEP Learning Outcomes3rd Week,
12th Week
FYS Coordinator,
FYS Faculty,
First Year Seminar StudentsAssess student gains in outcomes between pre/post
Spring 2010Survey of FYEP Learning Outcomes3rd Week,
2th Week
FYS Coordinator,
FYS Faculty,
First Year Seminar StudentsAssess student gains in outcomes between pre/post
Summer 2010Survey of FTCAP, Survey Student Orientation Experience

Make changes to FTCAP, Student Orientation, and FYS based on results of Fall 2009/Spring 2010 Surveys

FYS Coordinator, Associate Dean
All new incoming studentsAssess improvement of FTCAP and Student Orientation Experience with regards to FYEP student outcomes
Fall 2010Survey of FYEP Learning Outcomes3rd Week,
12th Week
FYS Coordinator,
FYS Faculty,
First Year Seminar StudentsAssess student gains in outcomes between pre/post
Spring 2011NSSE Survey

Survey of FYEP Learning Outcomes
Feb 11-Apr 11

3rd Week,
12th Week

FYS Coordinator,
FYS Faculty,
First Year/ Seniors

First Year Seminar Students
Ascertain gains in composite scores between 2008-2011 scores for BOTH Cohorts

Assess student gains in outcomes between pre/post
Summer 2011Look to see if changes to FYS improved student outcomesFYS Coordinator, SR PRA, Associate Dean

* SR PRA: Senior Director, Planning Research & Assessment
** DR AA: Director of Academic Advising
*** AS CL: Associate Director of Campus Life

1.) “Authentic assessment” of FYS / Student Orientation/ FTCAP
2.) Assessment of cohorts using “alternative” FYS or FYEP plans