Faculty, the Missing Piece in Student Success Initiatives
STUDENT SUCCESS EQUATION NEEDS FACULTY
American higher education has been moving toward a stronger emphasis on student success and completion for some time. Steps are being taken at all levels, whether it be:
state level, such as Colorado’s new plan for increasing attainment;
system level, like California State University’s new remediation reform;
institution level, like University Innovation Alliance;
regional, such as Lumina and Kresge Foundations’ Talent Hubs; or
national, like Complete College America.
A lesser-discussed component in the student success equation is the role of the faculty. It is acknowledged that faculty are critical players in many initiatives. Faculty members have the most contact with students and are able to see, communicate and guide in ways that others cannot. Yet, in the larger push to implement and effect change, it is possible and even likely that not enough space has been created for broad faculty engagement and ongoing development to fully position the efforts for success.
A CLOSER LOOK: COREQUISITE REMEDIATION
For example, one key initiative, corequisite remediation, which places students straight into college English and math with just-in-time remedial support, affects faculty at both the curricular and instructional level. Depending on the model, it may require faculty to integrate new components into their curriculum, closely align with other courses, work in teams and think differently about how to support their students.
In this initiative, faculty are often the ones designing the plans and managing the implementation. However, this work may only be undertaken by a small subset of faculty. More time and space may be needed to include all relevant faculty into the preparation, learning and assessment process. Adjunct faculty especially need guidance and support throughout the implementation. One good way to engage faculty is to provide an ongoing structured forum where they can learn, discuss, reflect, collaborate, try and grow together.
The same holds true for other initiatives, whether it be math pathways, guided pathways, early alerts, equity and inclusion, and more. There is both a need and an opportunity for faculty to be at the center of these initiatives to better ensure effective implementation and to have a stronger impact on student outcomes. Making a greater investment in faculty support and development during the planning and implementation of such initiatives could become a real game changer.