Division of Academic Affairs
Garvey discusses the first principle for good practice in undergraduate education (Chickering & Gamson, 1987), encouraging contact between students and faculty, and how you can implement that in your courses.
Welcome to this episode of "Teaching & Learning Matters." I am Dr. Garvey Pyke and today’s podcast is about the first of “The Seven Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education,” which is to encourage contact between students and faculty.
According to Chickering and Gamson, frequent student-faculty contact both in and outside of class is an important factor in student motivation and involvement. So what does that mean, exactly, for you and your classes? How can you encourage contact between you and your students?
When I have held workshops on the Seven Principles for UNC Charlotte faculty and graduate teaching assistants, this is one area where there is always a wealth of ideas. The easiest way to interact more with students is to come to class early and stay late after class. There are certain types of students who prefer this type of interaction with you, ones who may feel intimidated speaking in front of the whole class. You can ask them how the course is going, if they’ve been keeping up with the reading, or what they did last weekend.
Some faculty like to attend student events - not just athletic and other extracurricular events where students congregate but they also get involved in such things as judging student presentations sponsored by their college or department or even as part of another instructor’s course. Likewise, some faculty prefer to hold office hours where the students are - perhaps at Ritazza’s coffee shop or the new Student Union. Other faculty have office hours online, using the chat feature in Blackboard Vista or Instant Messenger.
Email is another excellent way to encourage contact with your students. Not only can you use email to contact them, but it is a good idea to have clearly defined email policies for them to contact you. You don’t want to get an email at 1 AM followed by another one at 1:05, asking you why you didn’t answer the last email. I recommend spelling out your policies on your course syllabus, for example, “I answer email from 9-3, Monday through Thursday, and I have a 48-hour turnaround time.”
By encouraging contact between students and faculty, we give students a sense of community, a sense of belonging. These are key components in what we refer to as students’ connectedness to the university. The greater the connectedness, the greater the chances that they will succeed in your course and also continue with their studies at UNC Charlotte. And we all know how important student retention is. With the increase of our student population, we need to be aware of how we can reach out to our students - at the course level - to make them feel a part of the university.
There are many other ways to increase faculty and student interaction. Get to know your students names, and use their names when you call on them. Whether you use a seating chart to learn the names or try one of various name-learning games, your students will benefit from your efforts. Give them personalized feedback - whether in a face-to-face classroom or online. Require all students to come to office hours once - send a signup sheet around the class with ten minute appointments marked already. This could be done to hand back the first test or paper or maybe before a big project is due. Class too large? Then try meeting in small groups instead of with individuals. Truly, the possibilities are endless.
So I ask you now, what are you currently doing to encourage contact between you and your students? Do you know your students? Do they know you? What other, new ways could you interact with your students? Maybe I talked about something that fits your style, maybe not. Just think about how you could enhance what you are already doing. Your students will be the better for it. I can look back fondly on those teachers I had who made the effort to get to know the students better, to interact with us more. And if you’re listening to this podcast, you are probably one of those impact-making teachers, too.
If you would like to learn more about how you can increase interaction between you and your students, feel free to contact me, Garvey Pyke, at the Center for Teaching and Learning at UNC Charlotte. And of course, check out my next podcast, where I go in depth into the next Principle, encouraging student to student interaction.
Until then, so long, and remember: Teaching and Learning Matters.
The University of North Carolina at Charlotte
9201 University City Blvd, Charlotte, NC 28223-0001 · 704-687-8622
Follow UNC Charlotte