Georgia State University is a national model of student success, supporting students in reaching their learning and graduation goals. GSU has a number of student success programs and initiatives, works closely with the National Institute of Student Success and has made Student Success 2.0 one of four pillars in the strategic plan. Here, we outline the many ways instructors can support student success within their classrooms, assignments and mentorship.
Georgia State University and the University of System of Georgia now require faculty instructors to document the way they support students through student success activities. Documenting student success activities is required in annual reviews, as well as within reviews for promotion and/or tenure.
CETLOE defines student success activities as being evidence-based approaches that promote student learning and engagement. Many instructors may regularly do things to promote student success within their classes; however, the list below is intended to aid in recognizing and documenting student success activities within your portfolio or dossier. This list is certainly not exhaustive, but we hope it’s helpful in generating some ideas.
Learner-centered syllabi use positive language that describes the behaviors students need to adopt and display for success in your course(s). They frame what students need to do in order to succeed in a course instead of presenting everything in a penalizing way. They also include language that attends to civility and respect.
- Highlight your learner-centered syllabus and language in your teaching portfolio.
- Here are some learner-centered language resources:
There is a large body of research illustrating that learner-centered syllabi are especially important for the success and support of minority and first-generation students and first- and second-year students.
TiLT (Transparency in Learning and Teaching) is a student-centered approach to making assignment guidelines and descriptions as clear and transparent as possible. TiLT is a learner-centered approach that has been adopted by GSU and the USG. CETLOE offers TiLT workshops and has TiLT resources available.
- Consider including your TiLTed assignment descriptions in your teaching portfolio.
TILT Higher Ed is sponsored by the AAC&U. View the TILT Higher Ed website.
Be available for regularly scheduled office hours every week outside of your scheduled class time to answer student questions and meet with students one on one supports students success.
You don’t need to even call this time office hours. In fact, many students, especially first generation or first-year students, don’t understand or are intimidated by the term. Consider calling your office hours something else like check-in hour or support sessions.
An excellent student success approach to holding check-in hours is to select 3-4 times you’re available and then have your class vote on the time(s) during the first or second class session. By doing this you signal to your students that you want them to come and see you, you want them to ask questions and you’re aware that their schedules are complicated.
Scaffolding assignments is the process of breaking large assignments up into smaller parts with the due dates and points spread out across multiple weeks or even the entire semester.
See this Faculty Focus article on getting started with scaffolding:
- This approach usually results in higher quality final assignments and higher rates of completion and spreads the grading load out across the semester.
- Scaffolding also supports the development of student metacognitive skills and typically prevents a student from failing a course because they didn’t turn in one final large assignment.
- Include your scaffolded assignment description (one that is hopefully also TiLTed!) in your portfolio.
Scaffolding is very important in online courses. Read more.
- Rubrics make your job grading easier.
- Rubrics make it easier for students to understand what is expected when they complete an assignment.
- The iCollege rubric tool makes it easier to add a rubric to your iCollege course.
- The combination of a rubric plus timely and targeted feedback helps all students.
HIPS are pedagogical approaches which require an investment of time and energy over an extended period of time and which have been demonstrated to have positive effects on student engagement.
- HIPs are evidence-based and have been widely tested and shown to be beneficial for college students.
- Characteristics of HIPs include: setting appropriately high expectations of students; interaction with faculty and peers about substantive matters; experiences with diversity; frequent feedback; reflection and integrative learning; real-world applications; and demonstrated competence.
- The American Association of Colleges & Universities identifies the following High-Impact Practices:
- First Year Seminars and Experiences
- Common Intellectual Experiences
- Learning Communities
- Writing-Intensive Courses
- Collaborative Assignments and Projects
- Undergraduate Research
- Diversity/Global Learning
- Service Learning, Community-Based Learning
- Capstone Courses and Projects
- GSU also offers “Signature Experiences” such as:
If you are teaching a HIP-based course, make sure to work with your college or departmental scheduler to have the class tagged in Banner.
If you are advising students in either independent or CURE-based undergraduate research encourage your students participate in the interdisciplinary GSURC (the Georgia State Undergraduate Research Conference) held every spring.
The Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC) program at GSU supports faculty in designing and teaching writing-intensive courses across a broad range of disciplines to provide an engaging learning experience for undergraduate students from all backgrounds.
If you’re teaching a WAC-certified course you can highlight this as a High-Impact Practice by documenting WAC activities in your teaching portfolio, including: writing assignments, ways you scaffold writing projects, how you promote writing as a process, peer review guides, writing assignment rubrics and other writing prompts.
The teaching strategies described in James Lang’s books Small Teaching: Everyday Lessons from the Science of Learning and Small Teaching Online support student success. CETLOE offers Small Teaching workshops and resources.
Here’s a list of a few ideas for incorporating small teaching into your classes:
Preparing students for learning by:
- Prompting students to draw on prior course content.
- Supply students with a pretest at the beginning of the course/semester (e.g. pre/post-test or concept inventory).
- Providing students with a scaffolding or framework of lecture material in advance of or following class (Guided Notes).
- Provide students with clearly outlined expectations/criteria for their course work and/or examples of what satisfactory work looks like.
Using the first five minutes of class to:
- Put up questions for students to consider before beginning each class session.
- Prior to the first content exposure, asking students to write down what they already know about the topic.
- Opening each course session by telling a story or presenting an intriguing fact, image, or quote to elicit emotion or capture attention.
- Beginning class by providing students with the learning outcomes for the current course content.
Hitting pause in the middle of class:
- To gather student feedback (student response systems/clickers).
- For small group discussions, problem-solving or other course work.
- When presenting cases, problems or examples, stopping before the conclusion to ask students to predict the outcome.
- For peer review each others’ work or writing.
- To create spaces for students to explain or reflect on their learning while they work.
Using the last five minutes of class to:
- Ask students to write down the most important concepts to help students see, summarize, or express confusion (e.g., Muddiest Point; Know-Wonder-Learned).
- Ask students to take a short quiz, answer written questions, or solve a problem (Exit Ticket).
- Pose a question that will be answered by the reading or the next class session.
- Tie the day's material into contexts outside of the classroom (Closing Connections).
- Create mini review sessions in which the students spend the last fifteen minutes of class applying that week's content to a new problem.
- Teaching beyond just lecturing to include:
- class discussions
- formative assessments
- polling and interactive quizzes (PollEverywhere or Kahoot)
- group work
- Using class response systems such as Top Hat or iClicker
- and other student engagement techniques such as:
- minute papers
- or any variations
The Center for Excellence in Teaching, Learning and Online Education (CETLOE) offers consultations, workshops, and support to help instructors ensure their courses and materials meet accessibility requirements. These inclusive standards improve access for all students, not just those with disabilities. Read more about accessibility assistance at GSU.
RSI is defined by four key elements:
- the interaction should be initiated by instructor;
- the initiation of interaction must be regular and frequent;
- the interaction must be meaningful or of an academic nature;
- and the interaction must be initiated by academic personnel who meet accrediting body standards.
Read more about RSI at GSU.
The following activities also can be effective ways to document student success activities:
- Writing letters of recommendation
- Mentoring students in research activities
- Advising students in your major
- Co-researching or co-authoring with undergraduate or graduate students
- Mentoring students through preparing conference papers/presentations or manuscripts for publication
The College of Arts and Sciences has also put together a helpful Guide for Documenting Student Success Activities that includes some of the activities listed above as well as others for you to consider.
If you would like a consultation to talk about how to document student success or would like a feedback on your teaching portfolio, please contact CETLOE to request a consultation or sign-up for a Teaching Mentor Meeting.