First-Year Experience Survey Spring 2014

First-Year Experience
Survey Spring 2014
The First-Year Experience Survey focuses on the academic and social integration of University Park students as they
complete their first year at the university. The survey is based in part on the First-Year Student Outcomes and
Competencies. The survey includes items covering satisfaction, progress in achieving goals, adjusting to college life,
and developing intra- and interpersonal skills.
The survey was sent to 2,399 first-year students who had responded to the New Student Survey in fall 2013. Of
those, 671 students completed the survey for a 28% response rate and a 95% confidence interval of ±3.21%. The
respondents were 65% female and 35% male, with one individual identifying as transgender. Almost all (99%) of the
respondents were between 18 and 20 years of age and 90% lived on campus at the time of the survey. White
domestic students made up 74% of the respondents, domestic students of color made up 13%, and
9% were international students (4% were of unknown race). Of the respondents, 17.1% began in the summer and
82.9% in the fall. Analyses reported here do not show comparisons between when students began because there
were no significant differences between these groups on any items.
Overall Satisfaction
Overall, students were satisfied with their first year at Penn State with 85.9% reporting they were either “satisfied”
or “very satisfied” and 91.9% reporting they would choose Penn State if starting college again. Despite this high level
of overall satisfaction, there were some key demographic differences.
 Students of color were less satisfied than white students and international students were less satisfied than both
white students and students of color (Figure 1, scale is 1 = “very dissatisfied” to 5 = “very satisfied”).
 Women were more satisfied than men (Figure 1).
Figure 1: Student Satisfaction by Race/International Status and Gender
Penn State Pulse is a project of Student Affairs Research and Assessment.
For further information, please visit or contact
[email protected], 222 Boucke, University Park, PA 16802, (814) 863-1809.
U.Ed. STA 15-13
This publication is available in alternative media on request. Penn State is an equal opportunity, affirmative action employer, and is committed to providing employment
opportunities to minorities, women, veterans, individuals with disabilities, and other protected groups. Nondiscrimination:
 International students found the Penn State community to be less welcoming than both white and students of
color (data not shown).
 Women reported the Penn State community as more welcoming than men (data not shown).
 Students of color were less likely than white students to choose Penn State again and international students
were less likely than both of those groups to attend Penn State again (Figure 2, scale is 1 = “definitely not” to 4
= “definitely yes”).
 There were no gender differences for choosing to attend Penn State again.
Figure 2: Choosing to Attend Penn State Again by Race/International Status
Sense of Belonging and Community
Students were asked questions about their sense of belonging and the connections they have made so far at
Penn State. Overall, 72.5% of respondents rated the degree to which they felt a sense of belonging as either
“substantially” or “extremely” and 78.3% answered in these categories for the degree to which Penn State is a
welcoming community.
 International students reported a weaker sense of belonging and were less likely to have established
friendships with other first-year students than both white students and students of color.
 International students rated the Penn State community less welcoming than white students and students of
 Women rated the Penn State community more welcoming than men.
 Women were more likely than men to feel a sense of belonging, establish friendships with first-year students
and upperclassmen, interact with faculty one-on-one, and interact with staff one-on-one (Figure 3).
Figure 3: Interaction with Others by Gender
Progress as a Collegiate Learner
Three factors were created based on students reported progress on a number of items. The factors were
Establishing Academic and Career Goals, Adjusting to College Level Academics, and Becoming an Engaged
Learner in a College Community. Overall, students reported “moderate” to “substantial” progress in each of
these areas. There were no differences among racial groups on the three factors. However, women reported
higher levels of progress on all three when compared to men (Figure 4). Table 1 shows overall responses for
each item included in these three factors.
Figure 4: First-Year Outcomes by Gender
Table 1: Student Self-Reported Progress
To what degree have you made progress:
Factor: Establishing Academic and Career Goals
Determining what classes you need to take
Choosing a major/program of study
Acquiring job-related skills
Defining your career goals
Factor: Adjusting to College-Level Academics
Improving your ability to successfully complete college-level work
Balancing your academic work with social activities
Adjusting to the academic demands of college
Understanding the purpose of the general education requirements
Developing effective study skills
Managing time effectively
Factor: Becoming an Engaged Learner in a College Community
Getting to know faculty members
Being aware of campus services
Getting to know others different from yourself
Making responsible decisions
Contributing positively to the Penn State Community
Developing empathy and compassion for others
% “Substantially” or
Comparisons to New Student Survey Responses
As mentioned above, first-year students also completed the New Student Survey (NSS) at the beginning of
their first semester. Some of the items included in the NSS were also included on the First-Year Experience
survey to see if there would be any change over the course of the year.
Items covering student overall satisfaction and sense of belonging were very consistent from the NSS;
therefore those data are not shown here. However, as can be seen in Table 1, there was a moderate increase
on items in which students were asked about their connections with others including fellow classmates,
faculty, and staff.
Table 1: Student Connections by Year
“Substantially” or “Extremely”
To what degree have you:
Established friendships with other first-year students
Established friendships with upperclassmen
Interacted one-on-one with faculty members and instructors
Interacted one-on-one with staff members
Penn State Reads
The class entering in 2013 was the first to participate in the first-year common reading program, Penn State
Reads. The book selected was “Beautiful Souls” by Eyal Press. Students were asked if they had read the book,
whether they were required to incorporate it into any of their coursework, and how participating in the
program influenced their first year on a number of dimensions.
 50.3% of all respondents indicated they had read some or all of “Beautiful Souls.”
 7.0% attended a Penn State Reads event outside of class.
 14.1% indicated that they were required to read the book for a class or organization.
 International students reported benefitting from the program more than white students and students of color
(data not shown).
Preface Magazine
Students were asked about the helpfulness of the Preface Magazine, an informational publication sent to all
incoming students prior to their arrival on campus.
 77.9% either “somewhat” or “strongly agreed” that the Preface Magazine was a valuable resource in the
transition to Penn State.
 18.9% either “somewhat” or “strongly agreed” that they continued to use the magazine as a resource after
starting classes.
 International students were more likely to use the preface magazine after classes began than the domestic
student groups (data not shown).