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Engagement and Retention: Assessment of a General Education Initiative for First-Year Students. Engagement and Retention: Assessment of a General Education Initiative for First-Year Students Frederick S. Foster-Clark, Daniel F. O’Neill, Laurie Hanich, and Carol Y. Phillips

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Engagement and Retention: Assessment of a General Education Initiative for First-Year Students

Engagement and Retention: Assessment of a General Education Initiative for First-Year Students

Frederick S. Foster-Clark, Daniel F. O’Neill, Laurie Hanich, and Carol Y. Phillips

Millersville University of Pennsylvania

Presented at AAC&U’s Network for Academic Renewal conference, General Education and Assessment: Engaging Critical Questions, Fostering Critical Learning, Miami, FL, March 1, 2007


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Engagement and Retention: Assessment of a General Education Initiative for First-Year Students

FYE Assessment Team

Dr. Fred Foster-ClarkGeneral Education Coordinator

Dr. Linda McDowellFirst Year Experiences Coordinator

Dr. Daniel O’NeillCounseling and Human Development

Dr. Laurie HanichEducational Foundations

Dr. Thomas BurnsAssociate Provost for Academic Administration

Dr. Carol PhillipsAssociate Provost Emerita

Ms. Kris VitucciGraduate Assistant


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Engagement and Retention: Assessment of a General Education Initiative for First-Year Students

Profile of Millersville University

  • Undergrad enrollment - 7200

    • 91% fulltime

    • 14% minority

    • 96% instate (Pennsylvania)

  • Entering fall 2006 class of 1363 students (new freshman) –

    • Mean SATs = 1050;

    • Mean Percentile Rank = 69%

  • 12th Ranked Public in US News & World Report’s Master’s Universities in the North

  • Top Majors:

    • Business Administration (892)

    • Elementary Education (808)

    • Undecided (785)

    • Biology (503)

    • Psychology (449)

    • Industry & Technology (444)

    • Communications (438)


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Engagement and Retention: Assessment of a General Education Initiative for First-Year Students

The Charge

  • Started FYE in Fall 2001: Outgrowth of the Student Alcohol Abuse Task Force recommendations

  • Develop potential models for a holistic first-year program to encourage:

    • Social engagement

    • Civic engagement

    • Intellectual engagement

  • Components to be included:

    • Enhanced advisement

    • Seminar course, the integrating element

    • Living/learning community with related programming


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Engagement and Retention: Assessment of a General Education Initiative for First-Year Students

Components

All freshman housing

Special programming (WOW*)

Peer mentors

Team building experiences

Community building

Tutoring on-site

*”What’s on Wednesday”

Outcomes

Students make friends, congregate in groups

Students form study groups with classmates

Students like the residence hall experience

Students involved in campus life

Collaboration with Student Affairs/Resident Life


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Engagement and Retention: Assessment of a General Education Initiative for First-Year Students

UNIV 101

1-credit extended orientation Seminar with linked fundamentals course (i.e., ENGL 110 or COMM 100)

Socratic format

Problem-based learning

Co-curricular/ extracurricular assignments

Service-learning

Faculty as advisor

UNIV 179

3-credit, content-rich passion Seminar linked with fundamentals course

General education credit

Co-curricular/

extracurricular assignments

Service-learning

Faculty may or may not serve as advisor

Seminar/Learning Community Models


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Engagement and Retention: Assessment of a General Education Initiative for First-Year Students

  • Components of the First-Year Perspectives

  • FY Perspectives course paired with first-year fundamental course (Composition or Speech)

  • Living-learning connection (Students live together in Freshman residence halls)

  • Service Learning (15 hours recommended)

  • Attentive advising by seminar instructors with support from Resident Life and Exploratory programs

  • Peer mentors (live in residence halls; one assigned to each seminar)


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Engagement and Retention: Assessment of a General Education Initiative for First-Year Students

First Year Perspectives (UNIV 179)

First Year Perspectives (FYP) is a component of General Education specifically designed for first semester students and offered in a seminar format, typically linked to a foundations course (either ENGL 110 or COMM 100) as a part of a living/learning community. A major function of these seminars is to introduce a process of critical inquiry applied to important social, cultural, scientific, technological, and/or aesthetic problems. Each FYP course will introduce multiple perspectives related to the understanding and resolution of these problems.


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Engagement and Retention: Assessment of a General Education Initiative for First-Year Students

First Year Perspectives (UNIV 179)

Common learning objectives:

  • Communicating orally and in writing

  • Obtaining and evaluating information (information literacy)

  • Engaging in critical inquiry

  • Appreciating the importance of civic engagement

  • Understanding the importance of a liberal arts education

  • Making a successful transition into university life, both academically and socially


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Engagement and Retention: Assessment of a General Education Initiative for First-Year Students

First-Year Perspectives Topics (Fall 2006)

  • Dream of America

  • Why We Hate

  • Facing Fear

  • Homes and Homelessness

  • The Amish and the Media

  • Witchcraft in 17th Century England and New England

  • Our Bodies/Ourselves: Sexuality and Gender in the Global Village

  • A Different View: How Can We Change the World?

  • Scientific Revolutions: An Exploration of Method

  • Culture, Science and Mathematics in the Pre-Columbian Americas

  • Food or Free Speech? Human Rights and You

  • The Monsters Under Our Beds

  • Liberty and Justice for All: The Promise of American Education

  • The Deindustrialization of America: Jobs Today, Gone Tomorrow


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Engagement and Retention: Assessment of a General Education Initiative for First-Year Students

Fall 2005 Pilot-test Evaluation Methods

  • 110 of the 284 Exploratory (Undecided) students were randomly assigned to the pilot-test program

  • Pilot-test students assigned to one of five learning community topics based on their stated preferences

  • Students completed mid-semester and end-of-semester Web-based surveys

  • Focus group of pilot-test students held at end of semester by assessment staff

  • Instructors completed opened-ended surveys

  • Students followed to check academic progress and persistence


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Engagement and Retention: Assessment of a General Education Initiative for First-Year Students

Freshman Year Mid-Term Survey – Fall 2005 Results

Students in the freshman seminar had more serious conversations with different students, worked more with classmates outside of class, researched for a paper more, contributed more to class, and came to class more prepared than students who were not in a freshman seminar.


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Engagement and Retention: Assessment of a General Education Initiative for First-Year Students

Fall 2006 Assessment Components

  • Pretest-Posttest Survey

    • Higher Education Values Inventory (HEVI)

    • Openness to Diversity & Challenge

  • Pretest-Posttest Open-Ended Responses

    • Civic Responsibility

    • Liberal Arts

  • Information Literacy Assessment (forthcoming)

  • NSSE (End of spring term)

  • End-of-Semester Focus Groups (students)

  • Faculty Survey

  • Persistence/Retention


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Engagement and Retention: Assessment of a General Education Initiative for First-Year Students

Comparison of Pre-Test/Post-Test Means (Fall 2006)

  • Note: N’s ranged from 212 to 215; standard deviations in parentheses.

  • Ranges:

    • HEVI Subscales: (0 = strongly disagree to 4 = strongly agree)

    • Openness to Diversity/Challenge Scale: (1 = strongly disagree to 5 = strongly agree)


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Engagement and Retention: Assessment of a General Education Initiative for First-Year Students

Writing Prompts(Fall 2006)

Civic Responsibility

  • What is civic responsibility? [pre- & post-]

  • How has your understanding of civic responsibility changed as a result of your experiences this semester? What in particular had an impact? [posttest only]

    Liberal Arts

  • What is a liberal arts education? [pre- & post-]

  • How has your understanding of a liberal arts education changed as a result of your experiences this semester? What in particular had an impact? [posttest only]


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Engagement and Retention: Assessment of a General Education Initiative for First-Year Students

Responses to Liberal Arts Writing Prompt(Pretest -- Fall 2006)


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Engagement and Retention: Assessment of a General Education Initiative for First-Year Students

Responses to Civic Responsibility Writing Prompt (Pretest-Fall 2006)


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Engagement and Retention: Assessment of a General Education Initiative for First-Year Students

Levels of Elaboration in Writing Prompts (Pretest -- Fall 2006)


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Engagement and Retention: Assessment of a General Education Initiative for First-Year Students

Comparison of Pre-Test/Post-Test Means (Fall 2006)

Note: N = 108 for Liberal Arts coding; N = 106 for Liberal Arts coding; standard deviations in parentheses.


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Engagement and Retention: Assessment of a General Education Initiative for First-Year Students

Pretest and Posttest Responses – Conceptions of the Liberal Arts – Fall 2006


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Engagement and Retention: Assessment of a General Education Initiative for First-Year Students

Criteria for Information Literacy Competency

The student…

  • Identifies a variety of types and formats of potential sources.

  • Summarizes the main ideas.

  • Synthesizes main ideas to construct new concepts.

  • Compares new knowledge with prior knowledge to determine the value added, contradictions, or other unique characteristics of information.

  • Applies new and prior information to the planning and creation of the essay.

    Being assessed by Library faculty using a sample of 41 student papers drawn from five different sections of UNIV 179.


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Engagement and Retention: Assessment of a General Education Initiative for First-Year Students

The Seminar/Learning Community

Really focused in depth on one area

Service-learning really opened my eyes

I got to pick the class

Made lots of friends –living and studying together

Professor knew everybody; small class great

Peer mentors really helpful

The Living Community

Really liked living together

Appreciated the fact that we were all freshmen going thru the same things

Easier being with people in the same situation

Great for working on group presentations and studying

Peer mentors lived with us and helped us with classes, with adjustment and registration

Liked the relational aspects the best

Student Focus Group Findings 2006


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Engagement and Retention: Assessment of a General Education Initiative for First-Year Students

Faculty Reactions: Rewards

  • “Energizing--got me out of a teaching rut!”

  • “I enjoyed a chance to spread my wings after a steady diet of required courses.”

  • “Camaraderie with other faculty”

  • “Got to know students well—both academically and personally.”

  • “Being both teacher and advisor made me better at both!”

  • “I could convey to students that college involves a high level of intellectual rigor…students rose to my high expectations.”

  • “I enjoyed seeing the students blossom. They came in quiet and reserved and by the end of the semester they were engaging in discussion and debate.”

  • “Students were ‘incredible’…attendance was phenomenal, the students were engaged, they participated, and they asked questions routinely. It was like teaching seniors.”

  • “The students knew each other very well, and they often worked on course material or discussed that material in the dorms.”


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Engagement and Retention: Assessment of a General Education Initiative for First-Year Students

Faculty Reactions: Challenges

  • Developing a brand new course involves a tremendous amount of work and preparation.

  • Choosing the course topic well. The ideal topic “has clear impact on students’ personal lives…and can be treated with academic integrity.”

  • Balancing course content and goals with attention to students’ general academic and personal progress

  • Service Learning component is often the most difficult part of the course to administer. Identifying service opportunities, arranging transportation and other logistics etc. requires considerable advance planning and coordination with other campus offices.

  • “Students didn’t get the seminar concept. At the beginning of the semester they were frustrated I wasn’t lecturing. I need to better prepare them for what a seminar is.”


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Engagement and Retention: Assessment of a General Education Initiative for First-Year Students

Persistence into Sophomore Year for Exploratory Students at Millersville – Fall 2001 to Fall 2005


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Engagement and Retention: Assessment of a General Education Initiative for First-Year Students

Conclusion: Lessons Learned

  • Starting small and building up

  • Close collaboration between Academic and Student Affairs

  • Faculty development

  • Early and heavy use of assessment data

    • Learning how to do assessment better

  • Getting innovations to fit existing curricular structures


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Engagement and Retention: Assessment of a General Education Initiative for First-Year Students

Conclusion: Lessons Learned

  • Starting small and building up

    • Began with more traditional one-credit FYE as experimental course, evolved and developed itself, morphed into three-credit passion seminar.

    • New FYE programming started as small pilot-test with assessment opportunities, expanded in second and third years, with full adoption planned for Year 4.


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Engagement and Retention: Assessment of a General Education Initiative for First-Year Students

Conclusion: Lessons Learned

  • Close collaboration between Academic and Student Affairs

    • Brings the living and learning together

    • Tutoring in dorms, study groups, and support programming benefits student learning and student socialization

    • Faculty more attuned to student learning and advisement needs

    • Maximizes the “bang for the buck”


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Engagement and Retention: Assessment of a General Education Initiative for First-Year Students

Conclusion: Lessons Learned

  • Faculty development

    • Outside experts (e.g., Jodi Levine Laufgraben, Peggy Maki, John Gardner, Randy Swing,Steven Briggs, Ed Zlotkowski, Nancy King, Ed Napieralski, John O’Connor, Doug Howard) brought to campus for consultation & training

    • Spring/summer workshop

    • Continued opportunities for discussion and faculty development during semester

    • End-of-term follow-up luncheon/workshop

    • Peer mentor training


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Engagement and Retention: Assessment of a General Education Initiative for First-Year Students

Conclusion: Lessons Learned

  • Early and heavy use of assessment data

    • Use of assessment for program development

    • Use of assessment to justify expansion

    • Learning how to do assessment better


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Engagement and Retention: Assessment of a General Education Initiative for First-Year Students

Conclusion: Lessons Learned

  • Getting innovations to fit existing curricular structures

    • Counting for credit in General Education

    • Faculty and department buy-in


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Engagement and Retention: Assessment of a General Education Initiative for First-Year Students

Thanks for attending our presentation. We hope our work is helpful to you in your own program development and assessment efforts.

Further information is available from our website:

http://muweb.millersville.edu/~gened/

Contact information follows on the next slide.


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Engagement and Retention: Assessment of a General Education Initiative for First-Year Students

Contact Information

Frederick S. Foster-Clark, Department of Psychology and Coordinator of General Education

Email: [email protected]

Phone: 717-872-3933

Daniel F. O’Neill, Department of Counseling and Human Development

Email: [email protected]

Phone: 717-872-3122

Laurie B. Hanich, Department of Educational Foundations

Email: [email protected]

Phone: 717-871-2231

Linda L. McDowell, Department of Educational Foundations and Coordinator of First Year Experiences

Email: [email protected]

Phone: 717-871-2388

Thomas D. Burns, Associate Provost for Academic Administration

Email: [email protected]

Phone: 717-872-3703

Carol Y. Phillips, Associate Provost Emerita

Email: [email protected]

Phone: 717-872-3703

Go to http://muweb.millersville.edu/~gened/ for information about our Gen Ed program and FYE efforts.


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