Practical Suggestions for Improving Student - Faculty Relations at RIT
The following "suggestions" were developed by a standing committee of our former Faculty Council as one approach to improving student-faculty relations. We recognize that not every idea presented in "Suggestions" will match the teaching and personality style of every faculty member or practices in every college. However, we offer these "Suggestions" in the genuine belief that if they are read, reflected upon, and appropriately acted on by new and experienced faculty members and administrators, they can contribute significantly toward a more positive learning environment and enhanced student-faculty relationships at RIT.
GENERAL COURSE MANAGEMENT
This category includes suggestions for classroom procedures and policies that faculty might regularly follow in their courses to enhance student-faculty relations.
- Try to make students comfortable with you and with each other; for example, introduce yourself, tell students what you prefer to be called (Dr., Mr., Ms., first name, etc.), and have students introduce themselves, etc.
- Clarify all course policies orally and in writing on the first day of class; these include attendance, class participation, extension, incomplete, and make-up policies.
- Explain thoroughly (orally and in writing) your grading methods and criteria; be consistent in applying them.
- Hand out a course outline on the first day of class, including a list of course objectives.
- Clarify what is and is not acceptable classroom behavior for students.
- Inform students when it is appropriate (or not) to ask questions during a lecture.
- Class size permitting, learn the students' names as soon as possible.
- Be flexible and fair to those students who have missed class or assignments because of truly extenuating circumstances.
- Vary the traditional class room setting on occasion; for example, hold class in a different setting, bring in another professor, bring refreshments to class, etc.
- Provide ample office hours and post them on your office door.
- Inform students if other people will be grading their tests and/or papers (interns, TA's, etc.)
- Provide regular grade feedback throughout the quarter.
- If you miss class, inform students how you plan to make up the time.
- If you are absent from a class, arrange for an explanatory note to be posted on the classroom door.
- Return tests and quizzes as soon as possible.
- Give students an opportunity to evaluate their tests.
STUDENT - FACULTY INTERACTIONS
This section presents suggestions for faculty attitudes and behaviors likely to convey a sense of individual worth and respect to students.
- Develop sensitivity to factors in students' lives beyond the classroom; for example, be aware that your class is one of several that the student is taking.
- Maintain a respectful attitude toward students; for example, avoid sarcastic, patronizing, intimidating attitudes. Students would like to be treated as interesting, intelligent and mature people.
- Demonstrate a willingness to help students with their problems. Refer students to other sources for issues better dealt with elsewhere; for example, the Learning Development Center or the Counseling Center.
- Be patient when students have difficulty with course work. Encourage, respect, and respond to their questions.
- Exercise tact when discussing students' grades.
- Increase your sensitivity to the special needs of students on a diverse campus; for example, be aware of how your remarks/behaviors will be interpreted by students with disabilities, foreign students, returning students, female students in non-traditional fields and students of color.
- Be fair and impartial in your dealing with students both in and out of class. Try to avoid favoring students majoring in your discipline.
- In the presence of students, convey an attitude of respect toward other faculty members.
- Become better acquainted with your students by being accessible and approachable.
- Listen intently to student comments and opinions, adding to ideas rather than dismissing them.
- Provide positive reinforcement and constructive criticism of student work.
- Respect what a student tells you in confidence. Avoid making value judgments (verbally and non-verbally) about these confidences.
- Maintain good eye contact with students; this is extremely important both in and out of class.
- Be willing to admit that you don't know all the answers to questions that students raise and that you can make mistakes.
- Try to avoid placing students in embarrassing situations, particularly in class; for example, inappropriately criticizing students' abilities, performances, or ideas in front of their peers.
- Show enthusiasm for your subject matter and your students
This section suggests ways that faculty might increase and improve contact with students.
- Attend social events designed to bring students and faculty together (e.g. coffee hours, picnics, sports activities, etc.)
- Participate in programs such as the Faculty-in-Residence, Faculty-Student Exchange or Student-Faculty lunch.
- Make opportunities to get to know students outside the classroom, such as attending social and sports events, and joining a group of students at the RITZ.
- Attend any student-faculty receptions held within each college for Dean's List students.
- Be involved as club advisors and participate in student clubs and events.
- Organize or attend student-faculty forums or lecture series to allow discussion of relevant topics and current events.
- Participate in any evening or weekend activities for students and faculty; participate in cultural activities and encourage students to participate.
- Utilize campus resources to continue to develop teaching skills; for example, LDC, professional courses and workshops, consultations with other faculty or Industry.
- Create as much one-to-one time with students as possible.
- Consider leading periodic informal study groups outside of class time.
- Utilize small group discussions in class whenever possible.
- Make class stimulating and vary the format to make it more interesting.
- Take the initiative to contact and meet with students who are doing poor work.
- Set up special tutoring sessions or extra classes for students who are doing poorly.