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How do you encourage students to participate in rention

I try to get a feel for each student on somewhat of a personal level, but still maintain the student/teacher relationship. Once I have gained their "friendship" we can then discuss and maybe even help them with any problems they may have from threatening to drop from the program. One of my students wanted to drop because she didn't have a ride home from school and she only had 3 weeks left, so I offered to take her home after school so she would finish the program. Needless to say she has.

Elaine, providing chauffeuring service certainly goes beyond the normal duties of a faculty member. I hope you are recognized for your dedication. Your practice of getting to know the students beautifully illustrates the importance of building connections with the students and how it can have a powerful effect of their lives. Nicely done!

Open the lines of communication w/our students seems to be the greatest resource we have. Instead of one word answers on a survey handed out in class, perhaps monthly forums w/student or class representatives would benefit more.

In my experience, Lisa, open lines of communication can close very quickly and not always for obvious reasons. Open communication is based on trust and confidence that the person receiving the information with respond in a timely and appropriate manner. Both those terms are defined by the person sending information.

It is difficult to know what the proper interval of time is to survey students. For many students, monthly surveys will be too often if they don't have anything to report or feel that no one pays attention to the results. A system that is available when needed, but not intrusive when not needed, would be ideal.

I'd like to hear how participants try to balance communications with students.

I need to make sure I have their respect as an instructor first. Then I befriend them only to a point they can trust me. I need to let them know they can talk to me about all issues, not just class issues. If I can help them work out anything or direct them to the correct person or resource that can help, it will give them the encouragement and confidence to continue, a sense of accomplishment when they overcome the issue.

We have created a student advisory board to allow students the opportunity to discuss personal issues that they may not discuss with administrators or instructors. Students typically are willing to tell another student about a concern. The board members are trained in this area. They encourage,support and coach the student on how to address the issue at hand.

Karen, please share more information about the student advisory group. How are the students selected? How many? How long do they serve on the board? How often does the group meet? Is there a faculty or staff presence? Do students typically “present” to the whole group or just select individuals? Who trains the board members?

Our student advisory board is make up of students from the various programs we offer. The individuals must be nominated by an instructor or staff member. We base the selection on leadership abilities, attitude and attendance. The students will serve typically until graduation. The board meets bi-monthly with the director. We discuss issues and challenges that our student may face. The members are required to participate in the various school activities.

The first meeting of the year was a planning session for 2006. In addition to serving the needs of the students the board must be active in at least one community service project per quarter.


I agree. I try to develop a friendly somewhat personal relationship with the students while maintaining the student/instructor relationship. This allows me to show that I am concerned and that I will do as much as I am able to do to assist them. Talking with them about their particular problem allows them to talk and rationilize what they can control and that most of the time it is not as bad as they anticipated.

Most problems that students face usually have readily apparent solutions, Sandra, if they take the time to look for them [and acknowledge them]. The opportunity to talk it through is an important step to finding the solution, particularly if the listener is interested in helping. Frequently, students are looking for someone to validate their decision. Keep up the good work.

I work in the Academic Resources Center at a small college. We encourage faculty to send an academic Alert to the ARC also sending a copy to the student and their advisor. I then follow up with an email asking the student to meet with me to discuss their progress in that class. When students stop by to visit I then refer them to our tutoring program and Supplemental Instruction meetings. At the same time we discuss the need for regular class attendance. All of the above create an environment where the student begins to see they are responsible for their own success

This seems to be a good procedure, but what happens if a student doesn't respond to your invitation to meet, Nancy? Do you use a school provided email address? [it has been my experience that students do not open school provided email accounts very often – no good news comes from this source.] How do you follow up to assure that the student is following on your referral? Rather than being prescriptive, have you tried helping the student identify the problem they are facing and then helping them identify possible positive courses of action?

I do usually begin with school email addresses but also follow up with phone calls and advisor help. Advisors are especially helpful with freshman since they are required to meet once a week. I also follow up with faculty to make sure the student is doing better in both attendance and studies. Once I see a student with their first alert I usually try and make follow up appointments on a regular basis to monitor their progress.
And as we all know we can offer the services but ultimately it is the student's decision to take advantage of the extra help.

going the extra mile for the student is important when it come to rention rates. Every department should show concerns and appreciation for the students.

Very true, Patricia. What do you or others at your institution do to go the extra mile?

The National Court Reporters Association and the Texas Court Reporters Association both have mentoring programs to help in the retention of students. These programs have served as a model for my students to form their own mentoring program. One student developed a plan for the higher level of speedbuilding students to be a mentor to the group below them. The students created their own email list of students to stay motivated and connected. They have formed a lending closet to help students with professional clothing for internships. They have formed a children's closet to help with clothing needs. I encourage them to be members of professional organizations and I tell them how important it is to work as a team. I explain how important retention is to the success of the student, the school, and the profession.

It seems that your students have developed a very strong support system, Joyce. How does the lending closet work? Do you physically house the garments? How long is the lending period? Who maintains the clothes?

Students and graduates donate clothes for internship. These clothes are housed at one of the currently enrolled student's home. The lending period is for the length of the internship, which is normally three months.
The student who borrows the clothes is responsible for returning them to school clean and pressed. Then the student maintaining the lending closet takes them back to her home. We do not maintain the clothes here at school, but that is something to consider.

Our students stay with the same group of students throughout the entire program. They tend to bond and form a family. Most of the time, as a class, they solve the small things such as ride issues, babysitters, etc. If a student feels isolated they will not even reach out to another student, let alone to someone in administration. Therefore, I think it is important to recognize any student that may not seem to "fit in".

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