3 ways to motivate faculty members to engage with student success plans

Faculty members can play a vital role in student success initiatives, yet colleges aren't doing enough to encourage them to do so.  

That was the primary takeaway from a recent presentation and discussion at the American Association of Community Colleges annual meeting this week, Autumn Arnett reports for Education Dive.

Especially in cases where schools are constantly adopting and tweaking their student success tools and methods, faculty members must be looped in—if not directly involved—in developments, Tony Holland, Wallace Community College (WCC) dean of instruction, said during his presentation. He also called for better training for faculty members on the student success technology and systems their schools have decided to put in place

Jennifer Lanter, the dean of general studies at Moraine Park Technical College, urges, "We need to prepare our faculty to prepare our students to [do what] we've spent all that time working through."

Here's what Holland and Lanter, as well as officials at other innovative institutions, are doing to train and engage their faculty in student success.

1. Lead by example

If there is a particular faculty member contributing to student success initiatives in the right way, Holland recommends highlighting their achievements for their peers to see and emulate.

At WCC, Holland says leaders distribute a weekly spotlight on an individual faculty member. The spotlights include short paragraphs praising that faculty member for their approach, contributed by deans, department chairs, and several others. The entire faculty and staff see these spotlights, which Holland says has served as highly effective motivation and guidance.

Holland also mentions that to gain faculty buy-in, instructors must be able to see that their schools' leaders fully on board, as well. That requires full leadership buy in to take place first. 

Leading by example is a great way to build up incentive for buy-in—but so is rewarding departments with budget increases

2. Create structured training programs

At Moraine Park, faculty and staff take part in a fellowship program, through which they are able to collaborate and share successes with one another, as well as learn about how their peers are engaging their students.

Faculty members receive a stipend for participating in the program, and are able to sit in on one another's classes for inspiration and ideas.

According to a recent blog post by Ed Venit, a senior director at EAB, the schools most successful with faculty buy-in take a catered approach to training faculty members to use new systems and technology, in which they teach the new system based around the faculty members' specific course. "In this way, the instructor fits the system around the nature of the course, not the other way around," Venit explains.

3. Offer professional development for part-time faculty too

According to Jessica Howard, the president of Portland Community College's Southeast Campus, part-time faculty members are the most likely to teach the most at-risk students, yet are least likely to have the resources they need serve these students well.

To reverse this, she argues that schools should provide orientation and professional development for all part-time instructors.

At Valencia College's East Campus and Winter Park Campus, part-time faculty members take part in a six-week training period where they are educated about teaching in a learning-centered environment (Arnett, Education Dive, 4/28).

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