Earth and Mineral Sciences First-Year Engagement Plan

Earth and Mineral Scineces FYE Plan (PDF)

First-Year Engagement Plan Submission Form
University Park

Submission Date:
Submitted By: John Hellmann
Title: Associate Dean-Education
College/Unit: EMS

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).

Three (3) Credits

In addition to being a 3-credit seminar, EM SC100S is also approved as a “GWS” course per general education guidelines. As such, students enrolled in EMS majors who have completed EM SC 100S may substitute it for either ENGL 202 or CAS 100 depending on program requirements (i.e. some programs in EMS require ENGL 202C, therefore, students in such programs can only substitute the FYS for CAS 100).

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.)

A substantial portion of EMS’ incoming first-year cohort participate in TOTEMS (Total
Orientation Trip in Earth and Mineral Sciences). This is a 4-day intensive orientation and team-building experience combining incoming students with faculty and upper division undergraduate mentors. Participant surveys indicate that the experience is both rewarding and enriching and, therefore, is a valuable complementary tool in establishing a sense of collegiality among our first-year students.

Participation in TOTEMS is voluntary, and to date we’ve been able to accommodate all of our incoming students wishing to participate. With a growing enrollment in EMS, we are actively developing resources to ensure we can accommodate incoming cohorts in the future.

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.)

Per the Dec. 10, 2009 memo from Dean Pangborn’s office, EMS’ target DUS enrollment is 15 students.

EMS has a strong history of supporting enrollment of DUS students in the first year seminar course (EM SC100S). Data gathered from the Fall 2008 offering reinforces this assertion, whereby 24 of the 215 enrollees across 11 seminar sections, were DUS students. The College plans to monitor the current process to ensure continued availability to DUS students.

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.)

After reviewing both the goals and objectives articulated by the Faculty Senate regarding First Year Engagement experience, and, a thorough review of the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) data, EMS has crafted a survey, using the NSSE benchmark categories (ex: Level of Academic Challenge, etc.), to be administered to students at the completion of EM SC 100S.

Data collected from this survey will be reviewed annually in the Associate Dean for Education’s office, and the results distributed to relevant faculty within the college for use in revising FYS content and to identify opportunities for enhancing the FYE for our students. The College will periodically review the scope and nature of the questionaire and make amendments accordingly.

In the first year, data will be benchmarked against the NSSE data; in subsequent years, collected data will be reviewed in comparison with previous years’ findings.

A copy of the survey is attached for review.