From October 2019 – April 2020, 24 students across the 12 colleges at University Park were interviewed to discover their student engagement journeys. Our three major findings are listed below.
To see the 24 student maps, view our interviewee guidebook.
Recognition of opportunity types
Some types of student engagement experiences are better recognized by students than others. We believe some of this is due to the advice students receive when coming to college, some is influenced by the Penn State culture that encourages organizational experiences, and some is due to pressure students feel that they need to gain enough experience to get a job upon graduation.
Finding your why
Our mapping technique allowed students to reflect on their experiences at Penn State. As we talked to students about each experience on the map, our questions were able to uncover the meta-cognitive aspects and articulate their why statements. Some students had strong “why” statements going into opportunities while other students did not have a “why” that was as strongly articulated.
Students understand and value Penn State’s commitment to providing student engagement experiences. Because Penn State is invested in these experiences and has provided scaffolding including curriculum, faculty and staff support, and connections to opportunities beyond Penn State, students find these experiences meaningful and rewarding. Even within the most challenging experiences, students are still able to see the value gained from participating.
“…you definitely have to go outside your comfort zone in order to grow. And that’s the biggest thing that I’ve got from these experiences.”Daniela, junior, Bellisario College of Communications
Learn more about our three findings in our white paper, linked below.
About our 24 students
The students interviewed in Phase 1 of this study were current students at the University Park campus. 12 students identified as male and 12 identified as female. Other relevant information about our sample includes:
- Students ranged in age from 19-24
- Five (21%) identified as first-generation college students
- Two were classified as adult-learners
- Two students started at Commonwealth campuses (Abington & Harrisburg) before transferring to University Park
- Two students transferred to Penn State their junior years from a different institution
- Our students completed 177 student engagement experiences. The number of experiences per student ranged from 4-17 experiences. On average, our interviewees completed 7.5 experiences.