Student Success

A new academic year has begun!  Students have removed belongings from burgeoning vehicles to fill now burgeoning dorm rooms.  Parents and family members have entrusted their children with their hopes, dreams, and goals, to our hallowed halls of higher learning.  A cycle that repeats itself like the cycles of time; yet, each cycle is never the same.  Progress and change bring new perspectives and new approaches, even to the education of students.  Our students think, learn and process the world differently than students from even a few years ago.  We enthusiastically accept the challenge of growing and educating our students in ways that appreciate these changes and in ways that will ground them in the future.


At our beginning-of-the-year Community Gathering for the faculty of Education, Health, and Human Services, we examined how language in the field of education has evolved over the past 20 years.  We saw a current emphasis on problem solving, critical thinking, communication, collaboration, technology literacy, and personal and social responsibility.  While individual success is still lauded in our society, 21st century learning skills place a stronger emphasis on our ability to work together.  In the context of educating college students, theses skill areas provide lenses through which to view the ways we can enhance our teaching and our work together.


Our mission and vision are focused on academic, professional, and personal student success.  It is our responsibility to ensure that 21st century learning skills are embedded in our instructional approaches.  In addition, we know our shared values give us a strong foundation on which to do this work.


At the community gathering, small groups of professors participated in a fifteen-minute activity.  They were asked to agree on two strategies or approaches, for each mission/vision goal area, that can be used this academic year to ensure students’ success.  Here is what they said:


Strategies to Ensure Academic Success

  • Provide a safe learning environment with clear learning targets
  • Creating a safe environment where students can express themselves
  • Challenge and support
  • Meaningful, candid, frequent feedback
  • Balance quality with quantity feedback/data
  • Use student feedback to inform instruction
  • Use case Studies
  • Use case studies to developing higher thinking/critical thinking skills
  • Help them develop thinking patterns
  • Improve connections/relationships with students. Reduce distance – don’t talking at them
  • Increase application of learning. It’s important also to know the ‘why’
  • Use quick writes to gain a sense of what students are thinking/learning
  • Use analogies
  • Be consistent with expectations
  • Maintaining high academic standards (across the board)
  • Flagging students of concern early and addressing the concerns


Strategies to Ensure Professional Success

  • Engaging them experientially
  • Make connections with others – teach/mentor professional behaviors
  • Case studies
  • Challenge and support
  • Mentoring
  • Accountability
  • Demonstrate professionalism:
    • collaboration with peers
    • group work
    • receiving positive criticism
    • moving towards self-reflection
  • Being a good role model (i.e., professional organization standards)
  • Thinking holistically – this integrates authenticity and learning critical skills
  • Ask students to develop action plans/growth plans for professional growth
  • Ask students to attend professional meetings in their field in local, state and federal levels
  • Encourage active participation in professional conferences
  • Model/share our professional growth strategies
  • Continue to reinforce ethical standards


Strategies to Ensure Personal Success

  • Directing to resources on campus
  • Coaching in priority setting, value clarification – encouraging, guiding, communication
  • Challenge and support
  • Reflective writing
  • Model respect, empathy, and listen
  • Help students increase multicultural competencies
  • Being accessible and approachable
  • Build relationships
  • Find ways to connect with students outside the academic realm
  • Validate students as people
  • Get to know your students
  • Use a “Me bag” activity – bring in a bag of tangible items to indicate who you are
  • Learning targets
  • Giving students choices and helping them be accountable
  • Have one-on-one conferences that address students’ strengths and weaknesses. Students can help determine how to develop their strengths and address their weaknesses.
  • Identify long/short term goals as they work through program
  • Help students work through “issues” and concerns outside the classroom


I wish you and your students a dynamic, productive, and successful academic year!



Image (March 1, 2013). Retrieved August 31, 2014 from: