Dr. Jillian Kinzie of the Indiana University Center for Postsecondary Research has compiled a thoughtful list of nine actions faculty members can take to promote student success. A brief synopsis is below. For a PDF of the full article, as well as further questions to use in assessing the effectiveness of your students' learning, please right click on the download link.
- Embrace undergraduates and their learning. Every student can learn under the right conditions. Adopt a talent development philosophy and use pedagogical approaches that address the learning needs of students who are less prepared to succeed. Use a variety of active and collaborative learning approaches, such as group projects and presentations, to engage students.
- Set and maintain high expectations for student performance. Academic challenge does not simply mean piling on academic work. Rather, standards for achievement should be consistent with students' academic preparation, and designed to stretch students to go beyond what they think they can accomplish. Appropriately calibrated to student ability, intensive reading and writing assignments accompanied by feedback are indispensable in helping students reach their potential, attain desired levels of performance, and recognize the value of spending time on academic work.
- Clarify what students need to do to succeed. Students benefit when their teachers provide examples of what successful students do that enables them to perform well in their courses or for a given learning activity. Do not leave students - especially newcomers - to discover on their own what it takes to be successful. Become familiar with and promote the available academic and social support resources such as writing centers and tutoring support programs. Equally important, make others aware of students in difficulty so that timely interventions can be made.
- Use engaging pedagogical approaches appropriate for course objectives and students' abilities and learning styles. Students learn more when they are intensely involved in their education and have opportunities to think about and apply what they are learning in different settings. Students also benefit when they are engaged in the teaching and learning of their peers, such as through assigned group work, peer review, coordinated study groups, and peer teaching in-and out-of class. In addition, multiple styles of learning are accommodated by adopting varying teaching approaches. Service learning and community based projects are good examples of structured approaches for application, reflection and connecting learning to real world issues.
- Build on students' knowledge, abilities and talents. We empower students when we respect and celebrate their backgrounds, prior achievements, and talents. Recognizing what students know and their perspectives, including asking for students' opinions and taking their responses into account when making decisions, listening to students' concerns, getting to know students individually, and thanking students for their input, go a long way to foster student engagement in learning. Valuing students' prior knowledge and experiences is a bridge to connecting students to the curriculum and to helping them make meaning of their undergraduate experiences.
- Provide meaningful feedback to students. Timely, formative assessment and feedback are vital to helping students maximize their learning, especially when accompanied by clearly specified criteria that set forth descriptions of proficiency levels of performance. Peer evaluation enhances students' sense of responsibility to their study and or work group and self-assessment encourages students to reflect continually on the quality of their own effort and outcomes.
- Weave diversity into the curriculum, including out-of-class assignments. Students who report more exposure to diverse perspectives in their classes are also more likely to report higher levels of academic challenge, greater opportunities for active and collaborative learning, and a more supportive campus environment. They also learn valuable things about themselves and other cultures.
- Make time for students.There is no substitute for human contact, whether face-to-face, or via e-mail - which can be a viable approach to increasing student-faculty contact. By collecting student e-mail addresses, sending messages about important campus events, and inviting students to submit early drafts of assignments via e-mail, faculty members can make time to interact with students in educationally meaningful ways.
- Hold students accountable for taking their share of the responsibility for their learning. Faculty members in cooperation with their colleagues in other academic units must organize academic programs in ways that demand substantial student commitment and accountability. Peer teaching and leadership help students hold one another accountable for learning.