Thursday, October 18, 2018

Successful Academic Program Secret Sauces

I’ve had the recent opportunity to get back in the classroom with traditional students (18-22 years old) after a 20 year semi-administrative hiatus. The experience has been more than an eye opener for me. Students today are connected 24/7 with mobile the communications method of choice. Instant access to information, family, friends and peers has made students much more aware of options and opportunities. As a result, they are often not afraid to walk away and try something else if a program does not feel right. 

How does this relate to our academic programs? We are working hard to recruit students into our programs and continue to work hard to get them through our courses and graduate but…. we all end up losing some. Can we do a better job retaining students in our classes? Can we better help students that are motivated but struggling? Can we learn from our faculty peers at other institutions? Why are some programs more successful than others? 

Here’s a short successful program secret sauce list based on my observations: 

  • They have faculty that have strong professional relationships with students. 
  •  They have faculty that make students aware of services that are available on their campuses. 
  • They have faculty that identify students early who may be at-risk and help them get the support they need. 
  • They have faculty that assess students early and often in every course to help identify and advise students that may need a little extra support. Ideally this includes weekly quizzes and homework assignments that are promptly graded and returned to students the following class. 
  • They have faculty that refer students to the proper service for larger issues as appropriate. 
Some things never change - the most successful programs and courses are likely the ones where faculty are most professionally engaged with their students.

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