How Do First-Year Seminars Benefit Students?

First-year seminars have become an increasingly common facet of the college student transition, in particular over the past few decades. According to a National Resource Center for the First-Year Experience and Students in Transition survey from the 2012-2013 academic year, nine out of ten institutions reported offering a first-year seminar, with the most common topics and objectives of those courses being campus orientation, academic skills, and campus resources. With the wide range of topics covered in first-year seminars, combined with the number of campuses using these to support student success, there is significant interest in knowing how first-year seminars benefit students. This research note explores the experiences of first-year seminar participants using a national data set of over 10,000 college student in the United States, exploring how first-year seminars contribute to learning outcomes, transition to college, and broader student success.

First-Year Seminars Benefit Students

Key Questions:

  1. What do students learn from first-year seminars?
  2. How do first-year seminars support student transition to college?
  3. How do first-year seminars relate to student retention?

Key Points:

    • First-year seminar participants report that their experience contributes to key academic learning outcomes.
    • First-year seminar participants report that their experience supports their transition to college.
    • First-year seminar participants report that their experience strongly influences their likelihood of returning to and graduating from their current institution.

First-Year Seminars Benefit Students: Learning Outcomes

From study skills to critical thinking, first-year seminars commonly focusing on developing skills key to helping students succeed in their academic endeavors. The Benchworks First-Year Seminar Assessment contains questions related to numerous academic and skill-based learning outcomes that are common components of many first-year seminars. The data in the early sections of this research note explore how first-year seminars benefit students by looking at some of these concepts that related most strongly to the overall learning and overall satisfaction components of the survey instrument.

To access all the data in this robust research note, just fill out the form to the right. Want more insights on first-year college students? You might like this infographic on academic resiliency – great for sharing!