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  • Incorporating

    Advisement, First

    Year Seminar and

    Freshman Writing

    into the Student

    Living Learning


  • Lisa Bortman, Dean of First Year Programs and Advising

    Charles Eastman, Director of the Writing Program

    Whittier College Whittier, California

  • This assessment model was a joint effort

    between the Dean of First Year Programs and

    the Writing Department

    The model was a comprehensive assessment that examined

    the first year programs: academics, advising residential life

    Benefits • Examine the student experience in its entirety

    • Combined efforts

    • Input and Analysis from more than one


  • Two Year Study

    • 2006-2007

    • 2007-2008

    We combined our assessment effort with the

    Assessment Committee’s examination of our

    Liberal Education Program—the “4 C’s.”

  • Whittier College: Study Site

     Whittier College is a four-year, independent, residential, liberal arts college

     Interdisciplinary programs, and diverse student population

     59 % of the faculty are men and 41 percent are women

     20 % belong to minority and international ethnic groups

     The student-faculty ratio is 13 to 1.

     As of fall 2006, Whittier College enrolls 1,427 students from 16 states

     55% are women and 45% are men. 41% percent are American minorities,

    and 5% are international students

     More than 27 % of Whittier’s student body is Hispanic—one of the highest

    percentages among the 73 independent colleges in California.

  • Whittier College: Integrated First Year Experience

    • Associate Dean of First Year Programs

    • Director of Writing Programs

    • Faculty Based Advising ----- First Year Advisors -- Mentors

    • Clustered Freshman Writing Course

    Freshman Writing, 3 credit course

    Housed in Interdisciplinary Studies

    Linked with another First year Course

    Class size – 16 or less

    All classes have a peer mentor

    27 sections offered fall 2007

    Freshman Writing Seminar (non-writing faculty)

    • Living Learning Communities

    • Peer Mentors

    • Poet to Poet Seminar

  • Assessment Model: Research


     The assessment culture at Whittier emphasizes a

    research model:

     Step One: pose a research question

     Step Two: Develop a method

     Step Three: Decide on analysis

     Step Three: Reflect on Results

     Step Four: Discuss and report to

    a wider audience

     Step Five: Recommend and adopt change

  • Our Question Are students academically engaged and socially

    integrated having gone through the first year

    programs at Whittier College?

    Theory: Good educational practice leads to Academic

    Engagement and Involvement.

    Indicators of engagement and involvement are

     Engaged in Academics

     Development of Faculty/Advisor- Student relationships

     Student to Student relationships

  • Academic Engagement

    Programs • First Year Writing


    • Clustered First Year


    • Living Learning


    • Peer Mentor


    Theoretical Framework

    • Academic Performance

    • Faculty Student


    • Student to Student


  • Academic Involvement Alexander Astin 1984

    Academic Involvement

    • “Refers to the quantity and quality of the physical and

    psychological energy that students invest in college


    • Greater involvement leads to greater learning and personal


    • Examples: enrollment in classes, studying, attendance

  • Academic Engagement

    George Kuh 1998

     Academic Engagement is: The extent to which students take part in educationally productive activities that are linked to desired outcomes of college.

     Kuh (2003) states “ students who are involved in educationally productive activities in college are developing habits of the mind and heart that enlarge their capacity for continuous learning and personal development” (p.8).

  • Writing Across the Curriculum

    • The freshman writing seminars at Whittier College are organized on the “Writing Across the Curriculum” model.

    • “Writing Across the Curriculum” (or “WAC”) is difficult to define succinctly.


    • C. W. Griffin, surveying 194 programs in "Programs for Writing Across the Curriculum: A Report" (1985), identified three recurrent ideals which form a core WAC ethos: 1) Writing must be practiced and reinforced throughout the curriculum in order to maintain skills learned at the beginning of one’s education; 2) To write is to learn; and 3) Since written discourse is central to higher education, the quality of student writing is a university-wide responsibility. (398-403)


    • As Karen Spear describes it in “Controversy and Consensus in Freshman Writing: An Overview of the Field” (1997), the increasing acceptance of WAC has been accompanied by a shift in focus within composition programs from the production of documents to the use of process and interaction to deepen and extend learning, the building of communities of faculty and students across disciplines, and the development of better critical thinking and engagement (322-3; 332-4).

  • Methodology: Qualitative Component

    • Phenomenological

    • A gathering and analysis of student perspectives

  • Two Strands of Academic Engagement and Involvement



    Relationship between

    student-focused classroom

    practices and engagement and


    Relational Dimensions

    Academic interactions

    and relationships,


    Students and their faculty/advisor

    Students and their peer mentors and classmates

  • Measurements

    Data were derived through multiple means

    Overlapped questions and asked

    multiple times in each tool


    • 2 questionnaires (fall)

    • 1 questionnaire (spring)

    • 2 surveys/writing evaluation (fall)

    • classroom observations (fall)

    • focus groups (fall)

    • review of course materials

    • NSSE

    • WABASH


    • 1 questionnaire (fall)

    • 2 questionnaires (spring)

    • 2 surveys/writing evaluation (fall)

    • classroom observations

    • focus groups (fall and spring)

    • review of course materials

    • Questionnaire of Faculty


    • NSSE

  • Qualitative Analysis

    Constant Comparative Analysis

    • Axial Coding: initial categories were developed from a Pilot Study

    • Open Coding: during the analysis new categories were identified

    • Researcher and two Research Assistants coded the questionnaires

    Analysis: Pattern Matching Involved the predication that pedagogical practices as well as the

    interactions occurring with faculty and among students affect

    academic involvement and engagement in First Year Programs

  • Writing Program Assessments

     Portfolio-based assessment of student skill growth

     Quantitative survey (end of semester— also serves as course evaluation)

     Student evaluations of peer mentors

     Student focus groups

     Class observations


    • A sample of 39 freshman writing students, representing a little over 10% of the incoming freshman class, was selected randomly for this assessment by the writing director. One paper from each student was included in the portfolio. The evaluations were conducted by a team of six faculty.

    • The following areas were assessed:

    • This paper is grammatically and mechanically sound at the sentence level. (GM)

    • This paper has a coherent, developable thesis. (TH)

    • The thesis for this paper is adequately supported and developed. (SD)

    • This author employs a style comprehensible to all members of the Whittier College community. (CS)

    • The author incorporates, cites, and documents material from external sources appropriately in this paper. (DS)

    • The author is aware of multiple perspectives on his/her topic. (MP)

    • The author is able to define relationships between elements of a problem. (ANL)

    • The author i

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