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First Year Experience Program

Program Overview

Program Description

The First-Year Experience Program at CSU, Chico is housed within Undergraduate Education in Academic Affairs at CSU, Chico. The program serves all first-year students at Chico State through varied means, including:

  • Public sphere events where students and their course work are “center stage”
  • A vibrant mentoring program that connects first-year students with knowledgeable sophomores, juniors, and seniors
  • Courses that take students’ transitioning processes into account
  • Various events inspired by the campus and community Book in Common Program
  • Participation in local research on first-year students to ensure our programs help students transition to college life


The mission of the First-Year Experience at CSU, Chico is to assist first-year students’ successful transition to college life through carefully designed curricular and co-curricular experiences emphasizing academic engagement, civic engagement, psychosocial wellbeing and the development of personal and social responsibility.


To support students’ successful development as emerging adults by providing:

Opportunities for students to participate in mentored classroom learning communities where experienced college students serve as learning support and mature role models;
Course-embedded, large-scale public events where students’ informed participation, prepared for through classroom research and discussion, is necessary and valued;
Pedagogical design opportunities for faculty to revise curriculum based on research into first-year students (including first-generation students), learning, and transfer of learning in order to tailor pedagogical approaches in first-year course offerings to students’ developmental and social needs;
Pedagogically sound and developmentally appropriate, student-center General Education courses (UNIV 101, UNIV 105) in “lifelong learning.”

To communicate and collaborate with staff in Student Affairs programs supporting first-year students’ success.

To use and model Communities of Practice theory and research in our own program design, emphasizing purposeful activity, shared responsibility, development of a contextually appropriate repertoire of practices, and use of systems thinking that moves away from blaming individuals and toward analysis of systemic problems.

To engage in Design Thinking in all areas of our work, employing creative strategies for problem solving and using constraints as design opportunities.

To use multiple forms of assessment in order to gauge the impact of all of our courses and programming and to make needed revisions to our work based on evidence from these assessments.

Student Learning Outcomes

  1. Academic Engagement (positive habits of scholarship and participation as measured by NSSE)
  2. Civic Engagement (positive attitudes toward and actual engagement in community problem solving as measured by CIRP)
  3. Psychosocial Wellbeing (flourishing vs. languishing as measured by Keyes’ Mental Health Continuum Short Form)
  4. Personal & Social Responsibility (altruism as measured by an adapted scale from Boyd & Nowells’ amendment to the PSOC)

Curriculum Interventions Matrix

  • Curriculum Interventions Matrix