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CUSP Executive Summary

CUSP Program Evaluation, 2007

Dr. Carmy Carranza: Chairperson, Developmental Studies/Director, Learning Enhancement Center
Mrs. Shelly Thielges: Graduate Assistant, Clinical Psychology Department

The following report summarizes the responses of students to a comprehensive program evaluation survey for the early experience program for freshmen called CUSP:

College Undergraduate Success Program. There were a total of 484 students enrolled in this year’s week long program. These responses were collected approximately three weeks after CUSP was completed. A total of 440 students completed the survey. Appropriate measures were taken to ensure the student’s confidentiality.

The results were collected using WebCT and contained both open-ended and multiple-choice questions.

General

Ninety-seven percent (97%) of the students found that CUSP did a good job orientating them academically to IUP. In addition, 99% of participants found the faculty and staff helpful.

Instructor for the Course

Thirteen faculty members delivered a total of 39 sections of the CUSP course, LRNC 150 Introduction to Higher Education. Data collection was limited to an overall rating of the instructors, and thus students were unable to specify their individual professor. Overall, 96% of CUSP participants stated that their instructor was an important source of information. Ninety percent (90%) claimed their instructor helped them adjust to the academic demands of college; 90% stated that their professor assisted them to adjusted/feel comfortable at IUP, and 93% responded that their instructor helped them understand IUP’s systems and resources.

Student Peer-Helper for the Course

The instruction also included the assistance of trained, undergraduate peer educators who offered advice, assistance and support, from a peer’s perspective, to the participants of CUSP. The peers’ assistance was incorporated into the individual classrooms according to the instructor’s teaching style; therefore, individual involvement varied in type and quantity and resulted in differing opinions on the part of the students.   However, 76% of the students rated their participation as highly positive. Additionally, 74% of students found their peer-helper was a valuable source of information on IUP policies and procedures; in regards to their adjustment and comfortableness, 70% stated their peer advisor offered valuable assistance and 76% said their peer advisor helped them understand IUP’s systems and resources.

The Course: LRNC 150, Introduction to Higher Education

Overall, 96% of students found the CUSP course to be valuable to them. Eighty-six percent (86 %) of students said the pace of the course was appropriate for their individual needs and 92% said this course helped them learn and apply a decision making model to their academic goals; 93% stated the course assisted them in understanding the role and purposes of the Liberal Studies requirements and 90% said they were able to learn and apply time management skills while taking this course.  Ninety-two percent (92%) of students said the course helped them identify useful learning and study strategies; 95% of participant’s expressed that the course helped them clarify their responsibilities as a college student; 83% stated that they learned and applied academic goal setting strategies as a result of the course; 96% of participants said the course helped them understand what they need to accomplish to earn a satisfactory grade; 97% of students indicated that they understood IUP’s academic requirements and 95% expressed that they understood IUP’s policies and procedures as a result of the course. In addition, 96% stated that CUSP should continue to be offered to first-year students.

Other Activities

CUSP offered workshops and seminars outside of class to acquaint the students with IUP resources, encourage learning outside of the classroom, and supplement in-class topics. Overall these workshops and seminars resulted in mixed ratings among students. The following responses list the percentage of students rating the activities as “valuable” and “somewhat valuable”. In response to the opening day presentation by Joe Martin , 95% said they found it valuable in some way ; 77% of students said they found the “Survivor” workshop valuable; the computer workshop was valuable to 90% of the participants; 92% of the students stated the library orientation was valuable; 90% rated the writing center session as valuable; 88% of participating students said that the catalog workshop was valuable; 61% found the casino night activity to be of any value; and 66% of the students found the study guide session on the common reader to be valuable.

Residence Hall

For CUSP participants, students living on campus were able to move into their dormitories early. This aided the students in their adjustment to college life and made the program appealing and convenient. The students had a positive reaction to their residence hall experience, overall, with 96% saying it was a positive experience. In addition, 61% of participants indicated that residence staff was helpful in assisting them with personal concerns; 86% of the students found that the residence staff was usually available when they needed them; 32% indicated that they did not require personal assistance; 87% said their residence halls and bathrooms were generally clean throughout their stay; 94% responded that appropriate time was given for check-in; 93% stated that they were able to study while living in the dormitories; 96% that they enjoyed being able to move in early; 95% expressed that they felt rules and regulations were fairly enforced; and 96% of students stated that they felt safe in their dormitory.

Overall Program

Overall students rated their experiences at IUP and in CUSP as a positive, educational and enlightening experience. Overall, 97% of students said the program was a positive experience for them; 44% of the participants said that attending CUSP was a joint decision between them and their parents; 35% said they made the decision to participate in CUSP on their own; 67% said they would be willing to pay more for an additional one-credit course during CUSP, 89% said they believe the program will help them reach academic goals and 93% stated they would recommend CUSP to a high extent to other incoming freshmen. Furthermore, 97% were glad they attended CUSP, 95% said they would give CUSP an overall grade of “A” or “B” and 96% stated the program helped them adjust to college. In regards to IUP, 90% said they planned to remain at IUP for the entire four years of undergraduate study, with 9% planning to transfer to another college; 94% would give IUP an overall grade of “A” or “B”; 96% stated they were glad they chose to attend IUP and 99% of CUSP participants said that graduation from college is of high importance to them.

Open-Ended Comments and Conclusions

Students were asked to respond to two open-ended questions at the conclusion of the survey:

  • What were the most valuable features of CUSP?
  • What suggestions do you have for improving the program?

Student's responses varied in length and complexity. The majority of student responses praised the program and expressed gratitude for having the opportunity to prepare for their college experience. Students commented favorably on being able to work on time management issues. They also found it valuable to learn about the catalogue and graduation requirements.  In addition, they appreciated the opportunity to move in early, learn about the campus, and have direct contact with various resources. They found the information they learned in the workshops to be beneficial, especially, the computer and library workshops. As in past years, the opening convocation featuring Dr. Joe Martin received considerable praise. In addition, students commented that CUSP gave them time to adjust to college, learn their way around campus, and get use to things before classes started. 
 
In response to the question on improvement within CUSP, many students felt that CUSP was very useful for them and did not need any improvements. Those who offered comments for improvement asked for 1) more social activities where they would be able to meet more of the other freshman in the program; 2) Shorter classes; 3) no early morning and late evening classes; 4) more free time; and 5) more freshman participation.

The data collected and analyzed from the evaluation survey provided a strong endorsement of the overwhelming success of CUSP and student satisfaction with the experience. These results support the continuation of CUSP, and indicate how strongly students feel that this program should be an option, if not a requirement, for all incoming freshmen.

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