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The Challenge: To Help Students Find their Niche at Penn State
For first year students the large and complex university environment can be rather intimidating.
The Division of Undergraduate Studies developed First-Year Testing, Counseling and Advising Program (FTCAP) in order to help students find their niche and understand the academic system, programs and requirements.

The Solution: FTCAP with Electronic Workbook and Website
Early on, it became apparent that students focused better on the material when they did hands-on collaborative tasks. Therefore, FTCAP shifted from being a teacher-centered lecture to student-centered activities.

Using a FTCAP pilot group, it was discovered that students enjoy using the electronic version of the workbook, but were bombarded with too much information at the orientation. So, a website was created to present information to the students before they come to FTCAP.

FTCAP orientation sessions allowed students to:
  • Become familiar with the academic structure and procedures
  • Understand the requirements for particular degree programs
  • Familiarize themselves with the online registration process and print resources
  • Understand the rationale for constructing a schedule of classes
  • Know their academic abilities in greater detail

FTCAP provides critical information about the university as well as allowing students to learn how they fit into the new environment. Because students are able to assess their academic abilities and interests, they are more likely to find their academic niche sooner.

Through surveys and regular feedback from FTCAP participants, the Division of Undergraduate Studies is able to continuously improve the FTCAP orientation sessions. By working systematically, the FTCAP team has been able to rethink the FTCAP program very thoroughly, but like most instructional design projects, this is an iterative process.
Judith Goetz
Judith Goetz
Sr. Associate Director DUS

 "FTCAP provides a vehicle for the university to deliver messages..."

 "Working with advisors is important..."

Joyce Buck
Joyce Buck
DUS Programs Coordinator

 We're trying to improve student learning..."

Project Members
   Eric White
   Judith Goetz
   Terry Musser
   Joyce Buck
   Ruth Hussey
   Diane Leos
   Wes Lipschultz
   Tammy Russel
   Marion Schwartz
© 2003. Office of Planning and Institutional Assessment   502 Rider II University Park, PA 16802-4819   (814) 863-8721   fax (814) 863-7031