First Year Experience courses are academic courses designed to ease the transition of students into the college environment. With approximately 85% of the nation’s colleges and universities having implemented such courses, research has shown that enrollment in such a course significantly enhances a student’s ability to succeed in college. This course is designed to be exciting and to convey the possibilities of the learning experience at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UALR).
In the First Year Experience (PEAW 1300) course, a discussion/seminar format encourages students to explore the issues that are critical to their goals and objectives such as: academic success, educational and career planning, personal wellness, and the value of an education. Speaking and written assignments boost students’ self-confidence and help them to become college-level communicators of their ideas. Personalized interaction with faculty, staff, and other students help freshmen understand the responsibilities and rewards that are part of the University education.
Fall 2011: Student Essays
UALR has carefully constructed a concomitance for its first-year student initiatives. While programs have a beginning and an end, UALR’s integrated, interdisciplinary, and inquiry-based freshman experience seeks to provide a unified core from which can grow academic success and life-long commitment to personal growth and community service.
Course Objectives. The six learning objectives forming UALR’s First Year Experience initiative are:
- Awareness of the University
- Awareness of the learning partnership
- Active involvement in the community
- Strategic planning for personal development and growth
- Sense of academic community and sense of belonging because of an awareness of and how to use:
- Preparation for the future
National Recognition. UALR’s First Year Experience course is recognized as a national model in preparing students to be successful in college and the community. The course has been recognized by the prestigious Templeton Foundation and is included in The Templeton Guide: Colleges that Encourage Character.
Evidence of Impact. Currently, the course “PEAW 1300, the “First Year Experience” serves approximately 800 students per year. The course is a graded three credit-hour course and it also includes a service learning requirement. Most students who have taken this course enrolled for the following semester, as the following fall to spring persistence rates indicate:
- 1995-96: 77%
- 1996-97: 73%
- 1997-98: 78%
- 1998-99: 85%
- 1999-00: 97%
- 2000-01: 83%
- 2001-02: 85%
- 2002-03: 88%
- 2003-04: 80%
- 2004-05: 87%
Assessment Tools. Assessment tools for PEAW 1300 – The First Year Experience Course and PEAW 1124 – Chancellor’s Leadership Corp are described below.
- Midterm Student Self Appraisal. Although UALR does require mid-term grade reporting for first year students, this reflective Appraisal enables student reflection and serves as a faculty feedback instrument from which intervention that promotes student development and academic success can occur.
- First Year Initiative Assessment (FYI). This is a national benchmarking student assessment project from Educational Benchmarking Incorporated (EBI) in partnership with the Policy Center on the First Year of College supported by grants from the Atlantic Philanthropies and the PEW Charitable Trusts. UALR began its participation in 2001. The FYI survey consists of 80 survey questions. Six institutions are selected for comparison based upon the profile factors submitted by participating colleges and universities. UALR is also compared to other institutions within its Carnegie Class of Doctoral/Research Universities – Intensive and all participating schools. In 2001, sixty-three institutions participated. In 2009, fifty-nine institutions participated. This national survey of first-year seminars and the provided comparison groups in addition to the longitudinal data, enables data analysis that help to better focus of time and financial resources for the greatest impact.
FYE Assessment Report Archives & History