Teaching Strategies as a Means Toward Making Connections
Send a welcoming email to students before the class begins. Encourage students to use their KSU email accounts. Tell them a little about yourself or ask them to email you about their goals for the course.
Learn the names of your students as quickly as possible and use students' names in class. Tell students the name and title you'd like them to call you.
Require students to meet with you early in the semester to get to know them personally.
Encourage students to form study groups/learning communities.
During an early session, have students write for 5 minutes about their hopes, dreams, fears, and expectations of the first year.
Be the first to arrive at class and the last to leave: Go a few minutes early to class and chat with the students. At the end of each class period, ask a different student to stay a few minutes just to talk.
Use index cards to learn something about your students and use the information when conversing with them.
If possible, email or phone a student who is absent.
Get feedback periodically from students about how the class is going. Consider using a variety of informal class assessment strategies.
Lend books and borrow books.
Have students pick up exams/quizzes from you in your office rather than distributing them in class.
Encourage students to establish a "buddy system" for absences, missed work, assignments, etc.
Encourage students who had the first part of the course together to enroll together in the second part.
Create situations where students can help you (get a book from the library, look up some reference, conduct a class research project, etc.).
Circulate around the class as you talk or ask questions.
Set aside special office hours and be there. Encourage students to stop in.
Take pictures of the students and post them in your office or lab in order to come to know them more quickly.
Teaching Strategies to Help Students Be More Successful
Devote time early in the course to helping students better understand the quantity and quality of work involved.
Use active learning strategies (clickers, discussion, etc.) whenever possible. (For example, see link on peer-to-peer instruction developed by Eric Mazur at Harvard University— http://www.columbia.edu/cu/gsapp/BT/RESEARCH/mazur.html).
Make your expectations and academic policies explicit.
Have a student panel of upper division students talk about what to expect their first year. It can be effective to have students who weren't initially successful talk about their experiences.
Prepare students academically and psychologically for exams: Tell students how to study for your tests and give sample test questions and answers.
Give each student a mid-term grade and indicate what the student must do to improve it.
Urge students to talk to you about problems (such as changing work schedules) before dropping the course. It may be possible to make alternate arrangements.
Notify a student's advisor if you note any attendance/performance problems.
Return assignments, exams as quickly as possible with comments.
Have students do two-minute papers about what they learned, what questions they still have, etc.
Continually mention campus resources, such as the Writing and Learning Centers as appropriate. Provide an introduction to these services, have representatives visit class, but also bring up their services often during the semester.
Set up special tutoring/review sessions
Insert skills building into your small groups. For instance, after the first few weeks, talk about note taking, ask students to bring in notes from a class to analyze. Show students what good notes should look like. Give class credit for notes taken in class.
If you assign a research paper, arrange a library orientation to help students learn their way around the library.
Provide opportunities for improvement: If a paper isn't well written, expect students to work with the Academic Success Center or Writing Center. Allow students to revise papers for a better grade (but don't announce the opportunity up front or you may inadvertently promote procrastination).
When possible, stress how the course relates to careers. The following activities could be useful for you:
Making Connections outside the Classroom
Socialize with students as your style permits by attending sporting events, walking between classes, saying hello, announcing that you will be eating lunch or having coffee in the Hub on a designated day/time.
Volunteer to advise or meet with new students during orientation.
Be friendly and say hello; even if you don't remember a student's name, you will probably remember a face.
Require students to participate in at least one campus activity of their choosing and ask them to write or explain how this helps their college careers. Give points for this. Even better, ask students to take a leadership role in some activity or meeting.
In large group, do a career panel, featuring careers related to your topic groups
Have guest speakers talk about what they majored in and how they came to where they are now as part of the introduction.
Emphasize how college courses prepare them with the skills needed for careers.
Have students compose a career audit plan, explaining what they want to accomplish each year and how it will help them achieve their goals.
Have students create a plan of courses for the next semester using the catalog and bulletin.
(List adapted from one posted on the FYE Discussion Board [National Resource Center for The First-Year Experience and Students in Transition] by Barbara Gaddis, Director, Office of Student Retention, University of Colorado-Colorado Springs)