I want STUDENTS TO STAY INVOLVED IN THE COURSE

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This video is a walkthrough of the strategies, technology, and resources found on this outcome webpage. It was recorded during the summer Resource Toolkit Workshop Series (July 2020). You can access the video using your YSU credentials. Please contact atkaufman@ysu.edu if you are unable to access the video.


Many factors impact student retention, some we can control and others we can not (Tinto, 1993), but faculty can have a great deal of impact in helping students stay involved. Creating an academic environment that encourages students to stay present and engaged helps students stay enrolled and persist in future courses and eventually degree completion. We're going to cover strategies in 4 different areas that will help students stay involved in your course and ultimately more involved in their collegiate experience:

  1.     Give students the opportunity to succeed
  2.     Intervene - personally and through institutional channels
  3.     Create a classroom environment where students feel that they belong
  4.     Help students see the value of their course and the curriculum
  • Give Students the Opportunity to Succeed
    • Using frequent, low-stakes assessments gives students early opportunity for success, and helps them see where they need to improve. Classroom Assessment Techniques (CATs) are very useful for this strategy. In a remote environment, it introduces students to technology in a lower-stakes situation. Students are able to build confidence with the tool (i.e. Taking a Test in Blackboard) before they do so in a higher-stakes situation. Also, use assessments that require students to repeatedly recall information aids learning.
      • After the first major assessment, spend some time talking about study skills. Saundra McGuire’s work has been shown to be highly effective, and there are free resources available.
    • Be strategies about helping students complete out of class work by giving points for pre-class preparation, utilizing low stakes quizzes at the beginning of each class, or utilizing an entrance ticket activity. 
      • Entrance Ticket Example: In preparation for your next class, you'll be reading ARTICLE. If you are attending face-to-face on Monday, write 2 questions you had after reading and turn it in upon arriving. If you are attending virtually on Monday, submit 2 questions you had on a Blackboard discussion board before the start of class. We will use the questions for discussion.
    • Be clear and transparent regarding your expectations about assignments, grading, and classroom behavior. Refer to the syllabus often to keep students focused. Confused students are frustrated students.
      • Consider creating a matrix for students that lays out expectations for the week. 
    • Connect students:
      • to each other -- consider setting-up voluntary study groups or provide a way for students to get in touch with peers for support.
      • to campus resources -- refer students to support from learning centers and support services on campus. These resources are offering virtual services during Fall 2020. Find out more about how to connect students to support on campus.
  • Intervene

    With remote courses, it may be hard to know if students are watching videos or accessing your materials. We recommend incorporating small activities aligned with chunks of content as a gauge for students' engagement (such as a discussion board associated with a video or a small quiz after reading an article). If students are not completing these small activities (or not attending your live courses), utilize YSU's Early Alert Reporting System (EARS) to connect students to academic support. You can access EARS through your Penguin Portal. Early identification of and intervention with students who academic behaviors and/or performance are a cause for concern is a proven best practice in increasing the likelihood that they will be successful. 

    You can also consider tying attendance and/or engagement to points/grades, although we encourage you to be mindful of updated Covid-19 information and differences in access to technology. Stress how important it is for your students to be present from start to finish. If a student misses more than two classes or otherwise begins to drift away, contact them with concern, and try to help problem-solve. Collect data in your own classes that compare attendance to grades and share it with your students.

    Be proactive, by polling students early and often to identify potential problems they are experiencing, and be as responsive as possible to those issues.

  • Create a Classroom Environment Where Students Feel that They Belong

    We encourage you to check out our section on creating an equitable course. The Association of College & University Educators (ACUE) has made available a free Inclusive Teaching Practices resource toolkit that includes short videos from faculty across the country with strategies for creating an inclusive classroom. Two of these strategies include:

    1. Sharing your gender pronouns with students - Model inclusion and send a message that your course is a safe space for students across the gender spectrum by including your pronouns on your syllabus, on your signature line, and in your LMS profile (ACUE). 
    2. Learning and using students' preferred names - Remember that students' preferred names may not always match what is on your course roster, ask students what they want to be called, and then use that name. 
  • Help Students See the Value of Their Course and Curriculum
    • Explain the reason for your course, its content and assessments, and its place in the curriculum. Make regular arguments about why all of this matters.
    • Connect content to the “real world.” Where possible, use experiential learning methods (e.g., internships, service-learning, community-based research) to connect concepts to the greater community/environment. Encourage study abroad experiences.
    • Emphasize the importance of regularly seeing an advisor.
    • Always look for ways to improve your course and keep it up-to-date. Talk with colleagues about programmatic expectations, and regularly reexamine curricula. Consulting with community leaders is valuable as well.