Why I tell my students I love them

In any definition of student success—from retention metrics to life-long fulfillment—EAB research has demonstrated a strong link between faculty activity and student outcomes.

But while research has shown that close faculty-student relationships result in significantly greater levels of happiness and engagement, few college graduates report having those relationships, according to Colin Koproske, practice manager at EAB.

To engage and support students, faculty must express how much they care for them, Matthew Wright argues for Inside Higher Ed.

Wright, an assistant physics professor at Adelphi University, writes that he frequently tells his students he loves them. Showering his class with appreciation and encouragement can make students from different backgrounds and experiences feel more at home, notes Wright, who was named the university's 2015 professor of the year.

When professors act as guides and mentors, they can help direct struggling students to the appropriate resources, Wright adds. EAB has also found that faculty can be important partners for identifying at-risk students. Successful professors take the time to figure out what barriers stand in their students' way and ensure that students have access to mental health and academic support, Wright argues.

Also see: 8 strategies for a successful warning system

Faculty mentors also play a critical role in encouraging underrepresented students, Wright adds. Low-income, minority, and first-generation students are the most likely to doubt their place in college, writes David Kirp, a professor of public policy at the University of California, Berkeley. That lack of confidence can become self-fulling and lead to students dropping out, Kirp notes.

Telling your students that you love them is a difficult task, but caring for your students makes professors better, Wright argues (Wright, Inside Higher Ed, 11/9).

Related: Engage faculty to ensure lasting change in student outcomes

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