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A First Year Seminar For Surveying Engineering Students And The Effects On Retention

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2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

Civil Engineering Teaching Part One

Tagged Division

Civil Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

13.38.1 - 13.38.11



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Paper Authors


Thomas Seybert Pennsylvania State University - Wilkes-Barre

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Thomas A. Seybert is Associate Professor of Engineering at The Pennsylvania State Univeristy, Wilkes-Barre Campus. He teaches surveying measurements, stormwater management, and land development design in the surveying program. He is the author of Stormwater Management for Land Development (Wiley, 2006).
Address: Penn State Wilkes-Barre, P.O. Box PSU, Lehman, PA, 18627;

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

A First Year Seminar for Surveying Engineering and the Effects on Retention


A first-year seminar for surveying students in the college of engineering was added to the surveying engineering curriculum in 1998. The course is used to introduce students to college academics, the scholarly community, and the surveying profession. Class sizes are limited to 20 students in order to keep the student-teacher ratio low and provide the students an opportunity to make friends with 19 other students in their major. Team exercises are used in several elements of the course. One of the purposes of the course is to build a comfortable academic relationship between the first-semester surveying student and a full-time faculty member in the surveying program. A broader goal of the seminar is to improve student retention from the first year to the second year. This paper presents the topical outline of the first-year seminar and describes a few team exercises that have been well received by the students. Retention rates of first-year surveying students before and after the course was implemented are compared.


Penn State University introduced a first-year seminar (FYS) requirement in the Fall 1999 semester for all baccalaureate students within the university. The seminar is mandated to have academic content, be taught by full-time faculty with at least three years of continuous teaching experience at Penn State University, and have a maximum class size of 20 students. The surveying program faculty designed a first-year seminar specifically for surveying majors and taught by surveying faculty (Seybert, et al.4). The original structure of the course focused mainly on building a strong sense of community among the surveying students while using group exercises to develop collaborative learning and team skills. (Seybert5) The course is used to compliment topics covered in the first-semester plane surveying course, but also to present skills and information that will increase the chances for academic success. The course is designed around four general areas: (1) academic learning and understanding, (2) essential academic skills, (3) academic support, and (4) the surveying profession.

Academic learning and understanding sessions include a “Meet Your Advisor” exercise, learning styles assessment; and discussions on diversity, civility, and academic integrity. Essential academic skills sessions include a mathematics review, critical thinking, collaborative learning, basic team skills, and problem solving. Academic support sessions usually include a treasure hunt for academic success, overview of surveying program curriculum requirements and course scheduling, team study sessions on plane surveying methods and concepts that are critical for first-year surveying students, using Penn State University’s Intranet academic and advising resources, and an introduction to library services and research methods. Exposure to the surveying profession is accomplished through invited speakers from industry who deliver seminars on specialized topics of surveying practice or professional ethics.

Seybert, T. (2008, June), A First Year Seminar For Surveying Engineering Students And The Effects On Retention Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--4206

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