Study on Professors’ Role in Student Success

Inside Higher Ed, January 25, 2017

Student success depends, in large part, on the effectiveness of the faculty members instructing them, a study from the American Council on Education found.

College students who are engaged in their course work are more likely to be satisfied with their educations and achieve their academic goals. The paper, titled “Unpacking Relationships: Instruction and Student Outcomes,” argues that the subject matter and learning environment — both of which are set by faculty — are important components of that success. “Instruction matters,” the author, Natasha A. Jankowski, wrote in the paper. “And higher education needs to provide support for faculty to help students attain outcomes.”

The most effective methods for ensuring student success are not widely practiced in higher education, the study notes. In the paper, Jankowski, director of the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment, considers five faculty practices that would benefit students:

  • Transparency: students need to know what to expect from their courses, what their professors expect of them and how they will be assessed.
  • Pedagogical approaches: personalized instruction and active learning are just two pedagogical approaches that have been linked to better student understanding and overall experience.
  • Assessment: students can build upon their knowledge base and check their progress through regular assessments, as opposed to testing their new knowledge and skills once or twice throughout the term.
  • Self-regulation: colleges that require active participation and reflection from their students tend to be more successful and have higher graduation rates.
  • Alignment: it’s important for students to see how separate assignments, courses and experiences can complement each other and contribute to their overall success.


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