Student–faculty interactions lead to increases in student persistence and graduation rates. In addition, the academic relationship students have with an instructor leads to a larger effort students put into the course.
In courses that are more challenging for students, is the student-instructor relationship providing a greater impact on student learning? In short, yes.
Students in difficult classes such as advanced math and science courses are less confident in their curriculum and often express confusion. In addition, many professors are experts in their field, leading to an irrational fear factor that may students feel, often preventing them from seeking help.
In upper division major coursework there is a larger demand to earn high grades in these challenging courses. Often these high level classes are required for graduate programs in engineering, biomedical technology, and pre-professional school programs, which are highly competitive in nature.
Students interpreting the professor-student relationship in a positive light may look up to the instructor, and often have an easier time approaching the teacher for help. The students with educators that take the time to form positive relationships with students foster a respectful environment for students to flourish, which correlates to increases in student achievement and student confidence.
Many faculty members feel students should work hard, and use their own talent to earn their deserved grade in the course. This attitude often overlooks the importance of the mentors’ behavior toward students as a factor for success.
Professors that present themselves as real people, sharing personal or anecdotal stories about their own lives, interests and experiences create an environment of approachability. This correlates to increases in student communication, confidence, persistence and achievement.
Another way to positively impact student learning is to offer small group office hours; this helps students feel less intimidated than the one-on-one environment. Often designated especially difficult topics during office hour’s makes students feel less inept at dealing with the content they are struggling with and asking for help.
Enjoy this article? Receive e-mail alerts when new articles are available. Just click on the “subscribe” button above. Or follow me on Facebook