Starting with New Student Orientation and

An Extended Orientation Program -Starting with New Student
Orientation and ending with successful completion of
Freshman Transition course: A New Initiative at American
University of Ras Al Khaimah, United Arab Emirates
Priti Verma, PhD (Assistant Professor, Psychology)
8th EFYC, June 9-11, 2014
Academic Excellence, Redefined
Higher Education in UAE
Provision of quality education in the United Arab Emirates began shortly after the
establishment of the federation (1971) with the inception of the first university in Al Ain,
the United Arab Emirates University (1976).
In 1988, the first four Higher Colleges of Technology (HCT) were opened (now 12
campuses across UAE).
In 1998, Zayed University was opened for women with campuses in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
From 1995, several international universities opened branch campuses in the Emirates
include Wollongong University, Middlesex University, Bolton University, Michigan State
University and Rochester Institute of Technology, New York University, Masdar Institute and
many more.
Segregated education
Academic Excellence,
Some more information about AURAK
• Size of institution: Currently, 580 students, 50 faculty and 50 staff members
• Geographical location: Ras Al Khaimah emirate (northern part of United Arab
• Nature –Undergraduate and graduate programs
• Mission – research, teaching, community service
• Typical first years – Students are at different levels of readiness for university,
diverse (40 nationalities), young (17-19 years of age), males and females, first
generation to join university
New Student Orientation
University life is a new, overwhelming experience for many new students in UAE.
Many universities around the world offer extended orientation programs. And, we
at AURAK also believe that this should be an ongoing process in first year to
achieve the following:
Acclimate to students’ life
Help new students organize their classes
Get students familiar with where to find things
Reduce students’ drop out during the first year
Make new friends
Teach them skills and experiences students need
for academic success.
Phases of New Student Orientation Program
Planning of the NSOP was done in Spring and Summer, 2013 which
included the following:
Recruiting the student leaders
Designing of the program
Training of staff and students
Information to university community
Implementation of the Program
Results and findings
What’s new in NSOP?
Student leaders (Junior and Senior year)
For each 10 new students, one student leader was assigned.
Leaders contacted the new students before their arrival
New students were received by their leaders on orientation day
University Fair
Department booths
Launch of New Student Workbook
Campus tour led by leaders
Scavenger hunt
Program orientation in separate rooms
Faculty advising and course registration
NSO survey
Week long orientation program
New Student Orientation Survey Results
New admissions: 200 students (125 were enrolled in academic programs)
NSO Survey Evaluations
NSO Survey Evaluations
Information received prior to orientation
Learned about different clubs and organizations
Orientation Check-in
Usefulness of information in your packet
Learned about different academic resources on
Learned about other resources on campus
Length of Program
Program content
Gained a clear understanding of how to register
for classes
Orientation helped me to know what to expect
Enjoyable experience
Orientation helped me to know what to expect
Campus tour
Resources available to me at AURAK if I have
questions about housing
Got all of my questions answered during
Overall evaluation of orientation
UNIV 100: Freshman (First Year) Transition Course
• AURAK follows the American model: General Education Program
• UNIV 100 belongs to Gen Ed Program
• UNIV 100: First time offered in Spring 2012
• Requirement for degree
• Must be taken in first semester by first year students
• So far, only S or US (no number grades)
Main Characteristics of UNIV 100 at AURAK
• Same mastermind: An extension of New Student Orientation
• Aim to ssist students with the transition from secondary school to university
• Multifaceted content and flexible course structure
• Topics
• New Student Workbook : TypeFocus Careers, College readiness inventory
TypeFocus Careers
• Online Survey
• Self- assessment for personality, skills, interests and values
• Assists one to make goals, choose occupation and start a career portfolio
• Student and Administrator access
Snap Shot of TypeFocus Careers
College Readiness Inventory (adapted from UAEU)
• Inventory aimed to help the students understand how well they are prepared for
university life
• Components of inventory: Academic self-efficacy, time management, academic
stress, writing skills, note taking, classroom attentiveness and motivation, test
taking, physical disability
• Students responded: Yes/No
• Responses were submitted to administrator to get feedback
• Practical tips on how to overcome the areas of weakness as well as a list of
departments and organizations that can assist students were provided to each.
Results of College Readiness Inventory
Student responses: 106 students out of 125 completed the inventory.
Area of weakness
% reported this weakness
Academically self- efficient
Time management skills
Academic stress
Writing skills
Note taking skills
Test taking skills
Student Referrals based on Results
• Student Learning Center: Writing Center and Math Clinic, peer tutoring
• Career Counseling
• Workshops and Seminars
• Self Help resources Library
• Student Activities
Discussion Topic
How transitions are supported in your
Thank you!
Questions and Answers!
Priti Verma, PhD
Assistant Professor, Psychology
American University of Ras Al Khaimah
P O Box: 10021
Ras Al Khaimah, UAE
Tel: +971 7 2210 500, ext. 1289
Email: [email protected]
1. Bigger, J.J. (2005). Improving the odds for freshman success. Retrieved from NACADA Clearinghouse of
Academic Advising Resources Web
2. Schroeder, C. (2003). The first year and beyond. About Campus, 8 (4), 9-16
3. Howey, S.C. (2008). Factors in student motivation. Retrieved from the NACADA Clearinghouse of
Academic Advising Resources Web site.
4. Boyd, B., Largent, L. & Rondeau, S. (2008). Community College Orientation Basics: How to structure a new
student orientation program.
5. Barefoot, B. O. (2000). The first-year experience-are we making it any better? About Campus, 4 (6), 12-18.
6. Habley, Wes. (2003). NACADA Summer Institute, quoting 'Academic Advising: Critical Link in Student
Retention.' (1981). NASPA Journal, 28(4): 45-50.
7. Gardner, J. N., & Siegel, M. J. (2001). Focusing on the first-year student. Priorities, 17, 1-17.

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