Special Programs, Initiatives, Collaborations
The Division of Undergraduate Studies continued to lead the field of academic advising at Penn State and across the nation—contributing to its scholarship and helping to shape and define its future. As indicated below, DUS developed innovative tools, introduced new resources, and sponsored special events in support of the advising mission.
- Academic Advising Fall Conferences
- Each year, the Division hosts a conference on academic advising at Penn State's University Park campus. Every year an overarching theme is chosen around which the conference operates. [more]
- Academic Advising Noon Seminars
- Every semester the Division of Undergraduate Studies invites the Penn State community to lunchtime presentations featuring academic advising topics. These lunch-and-learn sessions provide opportunities for professional development, networking and advising discussions. [more]
- Academic Information Management and Communication
- DUS supports the University’s academic advising programs through coordination, development, and dissemination of up-to-date information about academic programs, policies, and procedures to the University community. Approved curricular changes inform updates to multiple resources and tools developed and maintained by the division to support students, administrators, and faculty and staff who work with students. Resources includes MajorQuest, MinorQuest, Curricular Updates, ETM Requirements and Procedures, Undergraduate Advising Handbook, Academic Advising Portal, and the College Information Chart.Maintaining these resources and overseeing Penn State’s academic advising information network involves assessing/interpreting University curricular changes to determine appropriate inclusion in DUS’s interactive tools as well as communicating changes to the University community at large.
- Academic Resource Development
- DUS developed and maintained academic-information and web-based decision-making tools to assist undergraduates and support advisers as they teach students to plan and manage their educations. DUS recently developed MajorQuest, MinorQuest, and the Academic Advising Portal and additionally redesigned the Undergraduate Advising Handbook.
- After many years of mathematics placement using an internally developed and housed system, Penn State has recently signed a contract for mathematics placement testing with McGraw Hill/ALEKS, an online adaptive program that provides both placement testing and remediation. [more]
- Discover House
- Currently in its fifteenth year, Discover House provides a special living option designed to help first-year exploratory students investigate academic majors and consider how to make the most of their Penn State experience. Discover House students attended class together in certain sections to foster collaborative learning and establish faculty connections. In addition to learning about Penn State’s colleges and majors, Discover House students learned about study skills, education abroad, internships, minors, and how to make use of Career Services. They attended many events on campus including the MLK Banquet and events offered by the Center for the Performing Arts, University Resident Theatre, and the Distinguished Speakers Series. They learned about themselves and others through experiences in Straight Talks and the World in Conversation.
- General Education Task Force
- On March 28, 2013, the University’s General Education Planning and Oversight Task Force was charged to revisit and revise General Education at Penn State, ensuring that the transformation successfully draws from the landscape of general education in the United States and meets the needs of our students. Janet Schulenberg serves as task force co-chair, leading the work of the ninety-member committee. Several other members of the Division of Undergraduate Studies play key roles in the task force, including Marie Lindhorst *, Task Force member; Elena Galinova, Themes Subcommittee; and Robin Stokes (Brandywine), Student Subcommittee.
- Global Education
- To address and develop competencies in global advising, the division’s Think Global team worked with the University’s Global Advising Committee to organize professional development events for academic advisers. In May 2013, a discussion on the intersection of education and human rights followed a viewing of the first episode of the World on Trial series; and in November 2013, Penn State’s chapter of the Global Brigades student organization presented an information session on the history and accomplishments of the organization plus student involvement opportunities. During summer 2014, Think Global expanded to include adviser resources in global education and intercultural education. The Think Global program continued to inform students across the system who wished to engage with global issues during their educational experience—in the form of majors, minors, General Education courses, research, service and career opportunities, and more.
- Leadership Council
- Members of the division’s student Leadership Council served as DUS ambassadors, helping to promote a positive awareness of the exploratory educational experience and representing, reflecting, and contributing the voice of the exploratory undergraduate student. The council focused on service to DUS and the Penn State community. Council members also took part in leadership development and team-building activities, attended select division events and meetings, and observed established leaders at Penn State and in the Division of Undergraduate Studies.
- The Mentor: An Academic Advising Journal
- Since January 1999 The Mentor: An Academic Advising Journal has served the higher education community as an open, online body of work addressing academic advising practices, research, and discourse. During this reporting period, the journal published thirty-four articles on topics relevant to the advising community and furthered the discussion about advising issues and theories related to student success. Numerous academic advisers across the Penn State system as well as experts in other disciplines contributed to the peer-review, feedback, and publication process.
- Pre-Law Advising
Penn State is currently eleventh in the country for number of applicants to law school. For the 2012–2013 admissions cycle, 428 seniors and alumni applied to law school, 322 were accepted to at least one law school, and 273 matriculated. The average LSAT score was 152.7 and CGPA was 3.26.
In addition to individual advising appointments with students and alumni, Pre-Law Advising initiated two small-group information sessions during the 2013–2014 reporting period that alternated on a weekly basis. These sessions will continue and are limited to ten students per session to create an atmosphere conducive to conversation and questions. The Pre-Law Orientation Sessions are designed for first- and second-year students who are exploring the possibility of law school, and the focus is on learning about law school and the practice of law to help students decide if law school is the right fit for them. Applying to Law School Sessions, introduced in fall 2015, are designed for juniors and seniors who have decided to apply to law school. These sessions focus on preparing for the LSAT and completing the law school application process. More than 150 students attended small-group sessions during this period.
- Research on Gendered Differences: Male Students at Risk
- As part of a research initiative on gendered differences in higher education, Penn State’s Division of Undergraduate Studies (DUS), with grant support from the National Academic Advising Association, is surveying male students about their beliefs and behaviors as they may relate to academic success. [more]
- Recommended Academic Plan conversion project
- Beginning in January, the Division of Undergraduate Studies (DUS), with approval from the Office of Undergraduate Education, will provide a single Recommended Academic Plan (RAP) template to assist units across Penn State in meeting the University’s AD-69 Web accessibility mandate. [more]
- Student Programming
- Throughout the semester, DUS plans and presented several academic-information sessions on specific topics for students enrolled in the division as well as for undergraduate students across colleges: International Student Ice Cream Social, College Fair, Business Majors Night, “Spring into Success!,” and “Study Smarter, Not Harder.”
* retired or accepted another position