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Penn State Mont Alto
First-Year Engagement Plan

Submission Date: Resubmitted April 30, 2009  
Submitted By:  Francis K. Achampong, Ph.D.
Title: Chief Academic Officer
Email: fka3@psu.edu
Campus: Mont Alto 

1. How will small-classroom experiences taught by full-time faculty members be achieved for all first-year students in your unit?

The average class size at Penn State Mont Alto is 18 students. A large percentage, some 77% of all courses offered at Penn State Mont Alto (excluding online, special topic, independent study, internships, etc., courses) are taught by full-time faculty members.  Although not all classes offered satisfy the “small-classroom experience,” students regularly schedule at least one such class per semester.  Additionally, some of the larger laboratory based science-courses which have enrollments exceeding the 25 student limit for the “small-classroom experience,” actually have smaller laboratory sections capped at 18-24 students. Students registered in one of these classes would actually have the “small-classroom experience.”
In order to ensure the “small-classroom experience,” students will be required by FTCAP advisors to schedule at least one class with no more than 25 students, taught by a full-time faculty member, during their first year.

2. How many credits will such courses carry?

Students will be required to schedule at least one course carrying three or four credits.

3.Supplemental programming.

1. Students will have a number of reinforcement opportunities.  Students will be first exposed to the goals and objectives of the FYE during FTCAP, with follow-up during the on-campus, first-year student orientation session. Both FTCAP and New Student Orientation are mandatory for all first-year students.
2. Some Associate Degree programs require an introductory course(s) that already covers a majority of the goals and objectives of the FYE tailored to that particular program.  These courses are either one or three credits; examples include FORT 100, IST 111S, SUR 100S, NURS 111, OT 100 and/or 101, PT 100 and/or 101.  Students in these programs automatically receive in-class reinforcement during their first semester, as these courses are mandatory.
3. Other Associate Degree programs do not require an introductory course which covers a majority of the goals and objectives of the FYE, and Baccalaureate Degree programs generally do not require an introductory course as described above.  Students in these programs will be required to schedule an on-line, one-credit FYS course (PSU 008S) based on an existing FYS offered at Penn State Mont Alto, or an equivalent, in-class FYS taught by a full-time faculty member. Since this option employs an existing FYS, it automatically meets the goals and objectives of the FYE.  The on-line PSU 008S course is modular, with each module addressing a different set of goals and objectives; furthermore each module contains an assessment component.  Attached, please find a sample syllabus [Appendix A.pdf] and examples of several modules [Appendix B.pdf and Appendix C.pdf] of the on-line FYS.  Any course or activity which meets the goals and objectives of the FYS, and would be assigned FYS credit under the legislation in force prior to Fall 2009, is considered equivalent to the on-line FYS described above. Current examples of these courses or activities associated with programs targeting a specific group of students include an Honors seminar (Honors students), an FYS for students participating in the Discover House program (DUS students) and students participating in the JumpStart program’s SummerCamp option (at risk students).
4. Finally, Penn State Mont Alto will continue to offer the successful Personal Achievement Workshop Series, or PAWS.  Attached, please find PAWS schedules for Spring 2009 [Appendix D.pdf]; the PAWS topics are varied and each of the topics meets at least one goal or objective of the FYE.  These workshops will be open to all students, and attendance at one or more PAWS sessions may be required by Associate Degree program introductory courses and PSU 008S. PAWS will therefore serve as a complement to the mandatory introductory courses in associate degree programs, as well as the alternative mandatory on-line PSU008S.

4. Assessment plan. 

A survey instrument [Appendix E.pdf] will be administered via ANGEL to students in introductory associate-degree program courses and PSU 008S seeking information on how these courses, along with FTCAP, New Student Orientation, PAWS, and a small class taught by a full-time faculty member, have helped them do the following:
• Transition successfully from high school to Penn State
• Adjust to the rigors of college academic study
• Become familiar with learning tools such as technology and library resources
• Develop relationships with full-time faculty
• Develop relationships with other students in their academic field
• Learn about their responsibilities as citizens in the PSU community
Our target for the measures in the survey instrument is that:
At least 85% of students in each program responding to these surveys will indicate an agree (4) or strongly agree (5) response to each item on the instrument.
b. After implementation of the FYE, the first-year (freshman to sophomore year) retention rate from fall 2009 onwards will exceed the average first-year retention rate for the 2000-2008 period under the old FYS plan.