Student Engagement, Faculty-student Interaction, Welcoming Classroom
Laila Guessous, Oakland University
In this poster we discuss simple strategies that can help break down barriers between faculty and students and improve enhance faculty-student interaction. Snacks help too!
Breaking down the professor myth and enhancing faculty-student interactions in and out of the classroom can start with some simple activities that don’t require much valuable class time. A small pilot study conducted in freshman and sophomore engineering courses at Oakland University showed that faculty spending as little as 15-20 minutes sharing information about themselves, their interests, academic journey and research during an in-person or virtual class, followed by opportunities for students to ask questions, can lead to a more comfortable and engaging classroom environment. In a nutshell, efforts to make professors seem more “human” can lead to positive outcomes.
Identify parts of their personal story that they think can break down the professor myth and help students see them as more “human.”
Reflect on their own past experiences as students and how small things in the classroom could contribute to it being a comfortable and engaging environment.
Create a plan to incorporate this simple strategy in their in-person or online courses to enhance faculty-student interactions.
Hear it from the author:
As faculty members, we interact with students in many ways and in many different settings. Whether it’s in the classroom, during office hours, in the hallway, in the laboratory or through written comments that we provide to students on exams or reports, these interactions, however small or casual they may be, can have an influence on whether a student feels at home in a given field of study and chooses to stay. Finding the time to interact in a constructive way with students, and demystifying who we are as faculty, is of course often a challenge for faculty trying to juggle the competing demands of teaching, research and service. In this simple activity, faculty members spend 15-20 minutes during one class period sharing information about themselves to help connect with their students. They can talk about their research, their career path, their interests, how they decided to become a professor, their hobbies or any other information they feel comfortable sharing with the class. Students can ask questions and the dialogue is intended to be informal and open. This can also be combined with an online “Introduce Yourself” forum activity. This poster shares student and faculty survey results of a small pilot study in engineering courses at Oakland University.
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Vogt, C. M. (2008). Faculty as a critical juncture in student retention and performance in engineering programs. Journal of Engineering Education, 97(1), 27–36. https://doi.org/10.1002/j.2168-9830.2008.tb00951.x