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First Year Learning Outcomes and Competencies

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In November 2003, Academic Affairs and Student Affairs formed a joint committee to examine students' experiences during their first year at Penn State. This became known as the First Year Experience steering committee. In order to improve students' success by increasing students' academic and social integration into the university, it was necessary to define the intended outcomes of the first year. These outcomes and competencies were developed through use of the literature on the first year experience and Penn State documents such as the Penn State Principles and the Strategic Plan.

These outcomes and competencies are now being used as the basis for examining the first year experience at Penn State. Additionally, they are used for assessment purposes to measure the institutional effectiveness of first year programs. As the efforts within the First Year Experience initiative continue, these will continue to be revised and improved.

Penn State First Year Learning Outcomes and Competencies

In addition to achieving Penn State's General Education Learning Outcomes, at the end of the first year of academic study, the student will:

(1) Understand and meet academic expectations; engage in active learning and use effective time management to balance academic work with extra-curricular activities.

(2) Learn about the value of higher education to both society and to individuals; appreciate the value of the general education curriculum and the worth of lifelong learning and scholarship.

(3) Be familiar with student services and academic resources on campus; actively use those resources and interact with staff.

(4) Engage with faculty in and outside of the classroom.

(5) Interact effectively with peers in social settings, and through educationally purposeful student activities.

(6) Refine short-term and long-term academic goals; learn about career management; establish more specific career goals.

(7) Achieve a higher competency in writing, note-taking, active reading, critical thinking and quantitative reasoning to be able to master college-level work.

(8) Expand knowledge of human diversity and cultural competence; effectively interact with others.

(9) Engage in activities leading to improved personal health and fitness; learn about making responsible decisions in a college environment.

(10) Be a positive and contributing member of the Penn State community; engage in community service activities; develop an understanding of sustainability and how to incorporate sustainable behaviors in daily activities.

Approved by The Pennsylvania State University First Year Experience Committee, April, 2005.

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