Communications First-Year Engagement Plan

Communications FYE Plan (PDF)

First-Year Engagement Plan Submission Form
University Park

Submission Date: January 6, 2009
Submitted By: Maura Shea
Title: Sr. Lecturer, Coordinator of FYS
College/Unit: College of Communications

Background. The First-Year Seminar legislation passed by the University Faculty Senate on April 29, 2008, requires that each University Park college and DUS submit a First-Year Engagement plan. The complete Senate legislation is available online at; parts of the legislation are reproduced in this form.

As your unit’s contact, please briefly provide the information requested below. A lengthy response is not needed if the information can be provided by checking a box, or supplying a sentence or two or a paragraph. However, if your unit’s First-Year Engagement plan does not fit the options in the form below, please contact Yvonne Gaudelius (Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education and co-chair, FYE Committee, for alternative instructions. Thank you in advance for your participation in this process.

1. First-Year Seminar characteristics. University Park colleges are required to provide at least one credit of first-year seminar. Does your first-year seminar meet the following criteria? All criteria below (a-e) must be met for the plan to fulfill the legislation.

The criterion below is followed by your College/Unit.

a. taught by tenure-line or other regular, full-time faculty members (not staff or
graduate students*) (*the college dean may grant reasonable exceptions, such as for professional practitioners who teach annually but whose appointments are not full-time)

b. taught in the student’s college of enrollment (in other words, you will provide a
FYS for all incoming students in your college)

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 required first-year seminar provide? Please answer 1 Credit, 2 Credits, 3 Credits, or Other (For example, different sections provide 1, 2, or 3 credits).

One (1) Credit

We currently over one 3-credit summer LEAP to 24 students (COMM 100S) and may add a second in 2010. This will only account for approximately 9% of our first year students. The remaining 90% will be taking a 1-credit seminar.

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 majority of our students will be taking a 1-credit seminar. Additional FYE events will begin with our extensive FTCAP experience where students will be made aware of the FYE activities. In addition to the seminar, we will require students to complete 6 out of 10 additional activities that they will choose from a list. Some of these activities may be incorporated into their seminar experience. The list will be updated periodically to reflect the changing events and opportunities on campus. The list will include activities that relate to the field of communications in general as well as each of our five majors (advertising/public relations, film/video, journalism, media studies and telecommunications.) The FYS coordinator and the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education will create the list in consultation with the Advising Staff and various departments involved. All first-year students will be part of an ANGEL group. Wherever feasible, attendance at activities will be taken. Students will leave feedback in the appropriate drop box for each event, thus enabling us to track their participation. We are currently working on the list and do not have the final version at this point.

Activities that may appear on the list include, but are not limited to: participation in the Library’s Open House or a library tour; a museum tour led by a docent; attendance at or participation in an arts-related event such as a campus theatrical performance, musical performance, or film screening, attendance at a collaborative University-sponsored event such as the Distinguished Speaker Series or a Paul Robeson Cultural Center; attendance and participation at College of Communications-sponsored events such as the Foster Conference, Pockrass Memorial Lecture, Donald Davis Symposium, Oweida Lecture or Career Fair; a presentation on internships by the College’s Internship office; a presentation on study abroad programs; completion of an iStudy module on academic integrity; creation of an e-Portfolio; attendance at a meeting for an official College of Communications club or student-run organization; or attendance at a freshman advising session with a COMM advisor.

4. How will you accommodate DUS students? You have been provided with data showing a rolling average number of students who have moved from DUS into your academic unit in recent years; briefly indicate how you will accommodate this approximate number. (Please limit your answer to 500 words or less.)

For the 2009-2010 academic year, we have been asked to provide DUS seats for 153 students. For each COMM seminar we offer, we will continue to have a “D” section reserved for DUS students but will increase the number of seats to 6. This will double the number of DUS seats, and in conjunction with our LEAP offerings, will meet our target number. We will also periodically check to make sure that availability meets demand.

5. 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.)

Our assessment plan will focus on student-centered outcomes that relate to the five general objectives. Those objectives flow from our college’s implicit commitment to student success in academic performance, especially within a student’s chosen major, student engagement and graduation within four years. Therefore our assessment metrics will use measures such as academic performance, retention, student engagement and 4-year graduation rates to determine if our FYE is assisting our students. In addition, we will use NSSE data to assess our FYE. For example, we will compare how first year students responded in 2008 compared to 2011 with regard to “asked questions in class or contributed to class discussions,” “talked about career plans with a faculty member or advisor,” “providing the support you need to succeed academically,” “helping you cope with your non-academic responsibilities,” “providing the support you need to thrive socially,” and questions about their involvement/plans to be involved in experiences such as practicum/internship, community service, study abroad, etc.