How does the First Term Survey help support student success?

DASA’s First Term Survey helps our division learn how we can best support the success of the whole student. We need your help to promote the survey to first-term students this fall.

What is the First Term Survey?

Six weeks into each new semester, the Office of Assessment invites all new first-year and transfer students to participate in a survey to collect information used to guide important decisions regarding student success, both at the unit-level and the DASA leadership level.

The First-Year First Term and First Term Transfer Surveys collect data on student experiences with new student programming, acclimating to NC State, and experiences on campus. The survey collects data on student attitudes regarding a broad range of areas, including: living on campus, advising, counseling, academic support, leadership development, and sense of community, among others.

This fall, new students will receive an invitation to complete the First Term Survey on Monday, September 30.

How does the survey help DASA units support students?

Many DASA units use the survey data to inform their programs and services. For example, these surveys have been used extensively by New Student Programs for a number of years:

Michael Coombes, Director of New Student Programs

“First-Year First Term and First Year Transfer data are very useful for New Student Programs in a variety of ways. We use this data each year to stay tuned in to what students say is important, what their needs are, and what is most helpful for them. This helps inform decisions we make about the programming and support we offer students. It helps us think about ways NSP can collaborate with other units in DASA and across campus to enhance students’ experiences and then take action.” – Michael Coombes, Director of New Student Programs

Another example of how the survey data supports student success comes from advising. Data from the surveys are used strategically by advisors within DASA and across the university:  

Melanie Cruz, Transfer Coordinator in Academic Advising Programs and Services

“During the Advisor Academy, we use the First Term Transfer survey to pinpoint student support with professional advisors and faculty. Using the data, we can identify where our current students need additional academic support and brainstorm ways to intervene within the different colleges.” – Melanie Cruz, Transfer Coordinator in Academic Advising Programs and Services

Another key function of the survey is to help connect first-term students with support resources. The survey measures students’ confidence levels in identifying various campus resources that can help them adjust to life at NC State and their confidence levels in utilizing various technologies for their academics.

This year, new students who indicate low confidence in any of these areas will be automatically emailed links to information about support and resources specific to their areas of concern.

In fall 2018, over 100 first-term students were contacted by DASA staff and offered assistance as a result of the First Term Survey.

Additionally, survey respondents who report psychological or academic difficulty during their transition to NC State are quickly contacted by the appropriate staff members who offer assistance. In fall 2018, more than 100 first-term students were contacted by DASA staff and offered assistance as a result of the First Term Survey.

This is made possible through the collaborative efforts of a response team including the Office of Assessment, the Counseling Center and Prevention Services, advisors in Academic Advising Programs and Services, Scholarships and Financial Aid, University Housing, the GLBT Center, the Women’s Center, and Student Ombuds Services.

How can I help the survey reach more first-term students?

This fall, the survey will launch on Monday, September 30. All first-term students will receive an email invitation from Dr. Zapata on that day and will be reminded by the Office of Assessment to complete the survey throughout October. Please encourage your first term students, both first-year and transfers, to complete the survey this semester. The emails students receive will include all details about survey participation, including incentives and who to contact with questions.

Where can I learn more?

The survey instrument and previous years’ data from the First Term Survey can be found on the Office of Assessment website.

The Office of Assessment accepts requests for question additions or changes leading up to each survey administration. See a draft of the fall 2019 survey and request additions here.

Please contact Stephany Dunstan, associate director of the Office of Assessment, (sbdunsta@ncsu.edu) with any questions about the First Term Survey.