Orientation Adventure 2011 Program Evaluation Evaluation: The Orientation Adventure staff is committed to regular evaluation and continued improvement of each component of the program. Major programmatic areas currently receiving evaluation are as follows: Leader selection - By the middle of each spring semester the OA coordinating team selects upwards of 90 student to lead OA trips for the upcoming fall. The selection process includes a written application, group process interview and a one-on-on interview. Being that each trip is staffed entirely by volunteer leaders, selecting competent and committed leaders is a top priority for the program. Itinerary design - While many of the trips are run annually, after the trips return in the fall, every itinerary is critiqued and in the spring new leaders refine them for the upcoming session. While the most fundamental goal of each trip is to foster the development of meaningful relationships between first-year students, each trip was constructed to engage Pitzer’s Community Values: Community, Diversity, Dialogue, Inquiry and Action.The OA coordinating team works in close collaboration with the leader to plan a trip that encompasses the expectations, learning outcomes and goals for the OA program. Leader training - While the number of hours leaders spend in training varies by trip, all leaders participate in least 30 hours of training prior to their trip. (Backpacking trip leaders train for approximately 120 hours before leading participants into the wilderness.) This is a significant educational opportunity for our returning and more senior students. Leadership, communication and emergency preparedness are three of many areas that the training addresses. Trips - Participants spend more waking hours on their OA trip than they will in one class during their first semester on campus. Additionally, this is the most time intensive extracurricular activity that many first-year students will participate in during their first semester on campus. As a result, opportunities for learning and growth on the trips are abundant. As a college we value the potential of co-curricular and extra-curricular learning. With intention, from design through evaluation, each aspect of the trips is informed by best practices, industry standards and leader and participant evaluations and focus groups including focus groups. These processes are integral to the continued improvement of each trip and the program.
Engaged Students: Evaluation of the program begins with understanding who the program is intended to affect. The OA programs recognizes three groups of engaged students (coordinators, leaders and participants): Coordinators: OA coordinators work closely with trip leaders and the director of Orientation Adventure to plan the 26 distinct trips. During the spring semester coordinators’ responsibilities include assisting with the solicitation and selection of trips and leaders, formulating itineraries and liaising with
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leaders. During the summer, coordinators responsibilities include: orchestrating trip selection and placement for the participants, ensuring details pertaining to each trip are well accounted for (e.g. participant medical histories, emergency preparedness, transportation), regularly communicating with trip leaders, fielding questions from parents, planning pre-trip leader training, facilitating training sessions, supporting the real-time operations of the program, responding to emergencies as needed and effectively evaluating the program after the trips return. Leaders: OA leaders are the most immediate (and most important) support for 10-15 first-year students during their initial days as member of Pitzer’s community. During the spring semester, leaders work in collaboration with the OA coordinators to plan their trip. While this responsibility is primarily the coordinators, leaders are encouraged to help shape each trip into their unique vision. During the trips, leaders are solely focused on its safe, enjoyable and meaningful execution. Doing so includes: building meaningful relationships with participants, appropriately representing the college, liaising with service providers, and collaborating with co-leaders. Participants: OA participants include all incoming first-year students with the exception of international and domestic exchange students. New Resource Students and transfer students are encouraged to participate in the program, but due to their often more complex schedules and different personalities in life are not required to do so. OA is considered the beginning of Welcome Week, the colleges larger orientation program, and therefore participation in OA is mandatory.
Learning Outcomes: For each engaged-student group we have constructed learning outcomes to inform all area of the program. They are as follows: Students who coordinate the Orientation Adventure program will be able to: 1. Thoroughly explain how OA contributes to student learning, student retention, and student involvement. 2. Articulate how OA connects to each of Pitzer’s four Community Values. 3. Demonstrate, through producing succinct and thorough itineraries, how to coordinate the logistics of student-led trips. 4. Demonstrate how to plan and execute a comprehensive leader training. 5. Exhibit elevated communication skills through maturely communicating with vendor and affiliates of the college. 5. Identify acquired transferable skills. 4. Perform essential first-aid and CPR skills. Students who lead trips within the Orientation Adventure program will be able to: 1. Explain the connection between Pitzer’s Community Values, their OA trip and the greater program. 2. Demonstrate how to plan, lead and facilitate a multi-day trip with 10 or more participants. 3. Identify improved leadership abilities as a result of leading their trip. 4. Identify at least three effective communication skills as a result of leading their trip.
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5. Articulate trip specific information about the region in California wherein their trip takes place. 6. Perform essential first-aid and CPR skills. Students who participate in the Orientation Adventure program will be able to: 1. Identify the connection between their OA trip at least two of Pitzer’s Community Values. 2. Know names of leaders and participants and identify shared and overlapping interests. 3. Express a plan to become involved on campus. 4. Articulate how their trip positively influenced their initial perception of Pitzer. 5. Understand that they can use trip leaders as a resource during and after their trip.
Select results from the 2011 OA post-trip evaluation. Participant post-trip evaluations N:283 n: 95 Community Values: In total, 100% of respondents demonstrated how their trips included Pitzer’s Community Values within its framework. Community- When asked about the integration of Pitzer Community Values into their trip, 97% stated the value of community was moderately, considerably or completely addressed on their trip. “Community was a a big part of my OA trip. We all felt comfortable enough to share anything and everything about ourselves. No one was judging anyone, and we really did create one big family. To this day, we still get so happy when we see each other around school and love hanging out with each other. All [of] my really close friends were from my OA trip.” “Community was the value most prevalent on our OA trip. More than anything, everybody who participated was expected to help to the best of their ability - whether it was cooking, cleaning up, leading a game or helping others out in the water who were having trouble [surfing].” Dialogue - When asked about the integration of Pitzer Community Values into their trip, 95% stated the value of dialogue was moderately, considerably or completely addressed on their trip. “Dialogue was a big part of our evening time and gave us, as tired individuals the challenge to sum up our thoughts about the world around us. It was interesting to hear people’s stories in a new and exited beautiful location.”
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“We didn’t waste our time on a million icebreakers. We jumped right into talking, asking real questions, being vulnerable, adn listening to each other in a really personal way. We sat with each other. We created community.” Diversity - When asked about the integration of Pitzer Community Values into their trip,84% stated the value of diversity was moderately, considerably or completely addressed on their trip. “Ever[y] night around the camp fire we would do some sort of bonding activity as a way of getting to know the people we were with.” “We went around Los Angeles observing the different social issues of our time.” Inquiry - When asked about the integration of Pitzer Community Values into their trip, 90% stated the value of inquiry was moderately, considerably or completely addressed on their trip. “The OA leaders allowed us to discover any aspect of the beach we wanted and allowed us to try out any activity, albeit while supervised. It was a very open environment.” “The OA urged us to speak and communicate with each other, and gave everyone the chance to give their opinions and feelings.” Action - When asked about the integration of Pitzer Community Values into their trip, 87% stated the value of action was moderately, considerably or completely addressed on their trip. “We were out moving and meeting people and discover LA all in such a short period of time.” “The OA trip made me realize the importance of one’s actions and how one needs to be both mindful yet willing to act. Before the trip I didn’t really want to get involved in anything and merely focus on studies. Now I am involved in multiple activities and though I am tired, I am happy tired. Thank you!”
Student Involvement: When asked if they plan to become involved on campus after their trips 94% stated that they did. In fact, nearly every respondent who planned to become involved also demonstrated how they had already gotten involved on campus one month after their trip. “I have joined a few clubs, have been attending more campus events - either because I've made plans with my OA friends or leaders to attend, and I hope someday to lead an OA and give back to the experience that made me really excited to start school at Pitzer.”
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“My OA leader is the president of the Student Investment Committee and he got me involved in the club.” “I want to get involved with POA and the Green Bike Program. I really enjoyed camping and surfing with my OA group and want to continue to go on adventures similar to my OA experience” Meaningful relationships with peers: When asked about the extent to which they had built relationships with other participants on their trip, 99% stated that they made a great deal, considerable or a moderate number of connections with their peers. When asked how likely they are to maintain relationships they built with other participants, 88% stated that they are very likely or moderately likely to remain connected with their peers after their trips. When asked what the most beneficial part of the program is, 78% underscored that value of developing new relationships with peers and student leaders. “I really enjoyed meeting people in that kind of environment. It was nice to have a group of friends to assimilate easier into Pitzer.” “Getting to know people! The people on my trip will always be friendly faces around campus. And my two best friends came from the trip.” “I think the most beneficial part was really just bonding with a group of students and starting the college experience off in a positive, challenging, and fun way. Having connections with the OA leaders has already helped me find opportunities at Pitzer and has been so nice in asking for advice from somebody who really knows.” “I think the most beneficial part was really just bonding with a group of students and starting the college experience off in a positive, challenging, and fun way. Having connections with the OA leaders has already helped me find opportunities at Pitzer and has been so nice in asking for advice from somebody who really knows.” “I think the most beneficial part was really just bonding with a group of students and starting the college experience off in a positive, challenging, and fun way. Having connections with the OA leaders has already helped me find opportunities at Pitzer and has been so nice in asking for advice from somebody who really knows.” “to get off campus and bond with people i had never met by living with them and seeing into the way they work a little bit and the way they see things a lot. It made me feel like i was not the only one to be feeling he way I was feeling.”
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“I honestly loved doing the sort of "manual-labor" because it kept me from worrying about being in a new place without any friends, etc. Being kept busy helped me transition into living at Pitzer without feeling too homesick or lonely.” The remaining 22% noted personal growth, gained familiarity with the LA area and/or 5Cs and the enjoyment of the trip-specific activities. “It was really to be whisked away right after we got to campus. This prevent the awkwardness of not knowing anyone and the distraction of thinking about home.” “I was able to come into this school year more grounded, and more open minded.” “I liked the excursions and participating in activities in Southern California that i wouldn't have normally known about.” “I think that the amount of adventure that came with being out in the wilderness and sleeping on rocks. It made me feel tougher than I thought I was.” “I honestly loved doing the sort of "manual-labor" because it kept me from worrying about being in a new place without any friends, etc. Being kept busy helped me transition into living at Pitzer without feeling too homesick or lonely.”
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