Why did We Explore First Year Students' Experiences?

The mission of UCLA’s First Year Experience (FYE) office is to equip all first year students with the skills, tools, and knowledge that will promote a successful academic and social transition. As such, FYE defines student success as promoting the holistic development of first year students through academic success, building community, health and wellness, and personal identity development. To better understand how to support these fundamental domains, SAIRO analyzed first-year student responses to the 2014 University of California Undergraduate Experience Survey (UCUES) and sought to answer the following research questions:

1. What are students’ experiences related to academic success, building community, health and wellness, and personal development? Are there differences by gender, parental income, and race?
2. What traits and college experiences predict key indicators of academic success, building community, health and wellness, and personal identity development?

This brief comes out of a partnership with FYE to help understand relevant data to UCLA first year students in order to identify areas for strengthening programs and resources.


What did We Find?

Analysis revealed the following key findings:

• First-generation college students were more likely to report seeking academic help from an instructor or tutor when needed compared to continuing-generation students.
• Women were more likely to indicate using facts to support their viewpoints compared to men.

• White students were more likely to report contributing to class discussions and asking insightful questions in class compared to Asian and Hispanic students.

• In addition, White students self-rated their analytical and critical thinking skills, ability to read and comprehend academic material, ability to be clear and effective when writing, interpersonal (social) skills, leadership skills, and ability to speak clearly and effectively in writing as higher compared to their peers who identify as Asian or Hispanic.

• The following college experiences were significant predictors of at least three outcome domains:  satisfaction with faculty, sense of belonging and satisfaction, extracurricular engagement, and availability of resources and opportunities.

• The strongest predictor of academic success skills and strategies was academic initiative.


How Can the Findings Inform Practice?

Given the importance of academic initiative, faculty satisfaction, extracurricular engagement, and the availability of resources and opportunities in predicting important first-year outcomes, attention should be targeted to providing programming and support in these areas.  For example, because students’ satisfaction with faculty is a significant predictor across all four domains of first-year success, it behooves student affairs to be very intentional about offering programs and partnerships that promote quality student-faculty interactions and opportunities to interact with professors outside of the classroom.

Did you know you can request additional information about this topic?            

Use SAIRO's Data Request Form to get started.       
            *SAIRO does not release raw data