Implementation of First-Year Engagement Plans (Oct 2009 report)

Appendix H
10/20/09

SENATE COMMITTEE ON UNDERGRADUATE EDUCATION
Report of the 2008-2009 Joint Senate/Administrative Review Committee
on the Implementation of First-Year Engagement Plans
(Informational)

In April 2008, the Senate Committee on Undergraduate Education sponsored, as a legislative report, the final report of the Ad Hoc First-Year Seminar Committee, co-chaired by Kim Steiner and Patti Mills. (See the Senate Agenda for April 29, 2008.) That report was passed by the full Senate in the form of a mandate for First-Year Engagement programming throughout the University, though with somewhat different options for University Park colleges and the Commonwealth campuses.

After the passage of this legislation, a new Joint Senate/Administrative Committee was appointed by then-Senate Chair Ingrid Blood and Vice President and Dean for Undergraduate Education Robert Pangborn to oversee implementation of the legislation by reviewing proposed FYE plans during the 2008-2009 academic year. That process has been completed, and the co-chairs of the Joint Senate/Administrative Review Committee on the Implementation of First-Year Engagement Plans have prepared an informational report, which the Senate Committee on Undergraduate Education sponsors for inclusion on the October 20, 2009, Senate Agenda.

SENATE COMMITTEE ON UNDERGRADUATE EDUCATION
Christian M. Brady
Peter J. Butler
Karen Duncan
Gary J. Fosmire, Vice-Chair
Elisha Clark Halpin
Martin E. Halstuk
Daniel M. Hemmert
Peter Idowu
Scott A. Isard
Joseph T. Keiser
Jonna M. Kulikowich, Chair
Cynthia G. Lightfoot
Samuel M. Loewner
Lisa A. Mangel
Robert N. Pangborn
Katherine A. Paseka
Robert D. Ricketts
Richard W. Robinett
Jacqueline E. Schwab
John L. Selzer
Hampton N. Shirer
Maria R. Truglio
Eric R. White

JOINT SENATE/ADMINISTRATIVE REVIEW COMMITTEE
First-Year Engagement Plans
Informational Report

Background

At its April 29, 2008, meeting, the University Faculty Senate passed legislation mandating that all University Park colleges and Commonwealth campuses offer First-Year Engagement (FYE) programming, including required First-Year Seminars (FYS) at University Park; and, at the campuses, either First-Year Seminars or a combination of other small courses taught by full-time faculty plus supplementary activities to promote academic engagement among first-year students. This legislation, which replaced earlier Senate legislation that had mandated First-Year Seminars at all locations, now enabled each UP college, and each Commonwealth campus, to tailor FYE to its local circumstances as long as a small set of central criteria were met.

The complete text of the April 29, 2008, FYE legislation, which includes further provisions, and the record of the Senate’s action on this legislation, are available on the Senate’s FYE website at http://senate.psu.edu/FYE/fye.htm. This website also includes a range of other information related to FYE. Senators and other interested colleagues are invited to visit it, and FYE participants are invited to send course syllabi and additional materials to the Senate office so that the FYE website can continue to be a University-wide resource.

At the beginning of the 2008-2009 academic year, a Joint Senate/Administrative Review Committee was appointed to oversee the development and approval of FYE plans for each UP college and each Commonwealth campus. Vice President Robert Pangborn and then-Senate Chair Ingrid Blood charged the Joint Committee with creating and completing a process of reviewing FYE plans so that all locations would be ready to provide FYE by summer 2009. This Joint Committee on the Implementation of First-Year Engagement Plans was co-chaired by Yvonne Gaudelius (Assistant Vice President and Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education) and Caroline Eckhardt (a Liberal Arts Senator with extensive First-Year Seminar experience); other committee members are listed below. The Joint FYE Committee’s task was not to reconsider the Senate legislation, nor to supervise the implementation of FYE on any continuing basis, but instead to provide a one-time review of the unit plans at the beginning of this FYE cycle.

During the Fall 2008 and Spring 2009 semesters, the Joint FYE Committee held informational workshops, created forms and a timetable for submitting the plans, oversaw the Senate’s development of the FYE Web site noted above, consulted with college or campus representatives as needed, working primarily as two subcommittees, and reviewed each of the unit plans as they were submitted. In some cases revisions were suggested.
We are glad to report 100 percent compliance: every UP college and Commonwealth campus has an approved FYE plan that it is implementing. The committee co-chairs would like to thank the Senate office staff and the staff in the Undergraduate Education office in Old Main for having provided the outstanding logistical support that made this outcome possible. All the approved unit plans are posted on the Senate FYE website noted above; academic units and campuses have also been asked to post a version of their plans on their college or campus Web sites.

Overview of FYE Plans

The brief summary below provides an overview of the ways in which the University community has responded to the Senate’s FYE mandate. Each University Park college and each Commonwealth campus identified a designated FYE contact person and used its own procedures to create its local plan. A summary of the unit plans is included at the end of this report.

University Park Colleges

The Senate’s FYE legislation mandates that UP colleges provide and require a First-Year Seminar both for their students, and for a specified number of DUS students, according to a rolling target based on previous DUS students’ movement into each college. The majority of UP colleges will offer 1-credit FYS courses: this group includes Arts and Architecture, Business, Communications, Education, Engineering, Health and Human Development and Nursing, and Science. More than one type of FYS can be offered, and some of these colleges also will offer 2-credit and 3-credit FYS courses in some majors or during LEAP: this group includes Arts and Architecture, Education, and Health and Human Development and Nursing. Other UP colleges will offer 2-credit and 3-credit FYS courses: Agricultural Sciences, Earth and Mineral Sciences, and Information Sciences and Technology. The College of the Liberal Arts will offer 3-credit FYS courses.

FTCAP plays an important role in all of the UP college plans and clearly represents a valuable orientation to the University and to University-level study. In addition, the UP colleges will offer a variety of annual activities such as orientation programs, special living options, field trips, and information sessions on topics such as careers and internships, study abroad, opportunities for undergraduate research, academic integrity, e-Portfolio, health & wellness, and attendance by students at events such as the library open house/tour, museum tours, arts-related events, and speakers on campus. DUS, in addition to developing and delivering FTCAP for all University Park students, provides all DUS students with a number of activities designed to meet the FYE Faculty Senate legislation.

Commonwealth Campuses

The Senate’s FYE legislation does not mandate that Commonwealth campuses offer and require a First-Year Seminar. Nevertheless, several campuses chose the First-Year Seminar option. Berks, DuBois, Erie, Fayette, Harrisburg, Hazleton, Mont Alto, Schuylkill, and Shenango will offer FYS courses, in various formats: Berks, 3+1 linked format (1- credit FYS); DuBois, 1-credit FYS most prevalent, with some 3-credit FYS; Erie, 1-credit FYS most prevalent, with several 3- to 4-credit FYSs (engr. & biology); Fayette, 1-credit FYS; Harrisburg, 3-cr. FYS gen. ed. course (ex: ENGL 015S) or 1-credit FYS academic focus (ex: CAP 110S); Hazleton (1-credit FYS; Mont Alto, some assoc. degree programs a 1- to 3-credit introductory course, remaining students a 1-credit FYS (PSU 008S); Schuylkill, a 1-credit FYS; and Shenango, a 1-credit FYS.

Other campuses have chosen to require not FYS, but other types of small courses taught by full-time faculty: this group includes Abington, Altoona, Beaver, Brandywine, Greater Allegheny, Lehigh Valley, New Kensington, Wilkes-Barre, Worthington Scranton, and York. As each plan is locally differentiated, only a few examples will be briefly mentioned. At Abington, 1-3-credit courses in a variety of areas will be provided; at New Kensington, all first-year students will be advised into “freshman focus” classes, of which 14 will be available; at Wilkes-Barre, first-year students will take a small, faculty-taught course in composition, math, general education, or an introduction to a major.

As at University Park, all of the campuses will offer a variety of First-Year Engagement activities such as orientation programs, special living options, field trips, and information sessions on topics such as careers and internships, study abroad, opportunities for undergraduate research, academic integrity, e-Portfolio, health & wellness, and attendance by students at events such as the library open house/tour, museum tours, arts-related events, and speakers on campus. Again as at University Park, FTCAP plays an important role in all of the campus plans and clearly represents a valuable orientation to the University and to University-level study.

Degree Audits

A topic that repeatedly arose during discussions of FYE plans concerned how students’ degree audits would reflect their having satisfied First-Year Seminar expectations, now that First-Year Seminars are not necessarily required at all locations.
Students who were admitted to degree status prior to summer 2009 will retain the FYS requirement on the degree audit. For students admitted for summer 2009 and subsequently, degree audits will display one of these three messages:

  1. First-Year Seminar: Take 1 Credit Minimum in First-Year Seminar
    This is a check for the completion of an FYS course for the UP colleges and for the campuses that require it. It is the same entry that has been used in the past on the degree audit.
  2. First-Year Seminar Not Required at Current Campus
    This is a message displayed on the degree audit for students at campuses that do not require an FYS course.
  3. First-Year Seminar Not Required
    This is a message displayed on the degree audit for students who, after completing 24 or more cumulative credits, change to a campus that requires an FYS course; given the number of credits they have already completed, such students do not need to take an FYS. This message will also be displayed on the degree audit for advanced standing students (admit type 02) and provisional/nondegree-to-degree students (admit type 10).Students who change campuses after completing fewer than 24 cumulative credits will have either message #1 or #2 displayed on their degree audit, depending on whether the new campus requires an FYS course or not.

Next Steps

The Joint Senate/Administrative Review Committee on the Implementation of First-Year Engagement Plans, its task completed, has been discharged. According to the April 2008 Senate legislation, FYE will next be reviewed in five years. Between now and then, we hope that Senators and other colleagues will participate in FYE at their colleges and campus locations, and help to add to its success.

2008-2009 Joint Senate/Administrative Committee on First-Year Engagement Implementation
Andrea Dowhower
Caroline D. Eckhardt, Co-chair
Roger Egolf
Yvonne M. Gaudelius, Co-chair
Linda C. Higginson
Michele S. Kirsch
Katherine A. Paseka
Robert D. Reason
Blaine E. Steensland
Michael E. Wallace