Ten Steps Toward Student Success

As an institution, UAH has undertaken major initiatives to help retain students. What can a teacher do to help improve students' success and retain them? There is no magic bullet, no one-size-fits-all solution. However, these ten steps can help many students (especially those in Charger Foundations courses) succeed and want to continue with us. You likely take most of these steps already, so consider the list a reminder of best practices.

  1. Learn and use students' names. Knowing names welcomes students to our community of learning. Greet 'em! Call out their names!
  2. Use Canvas. Canvas, the UAH course management system, gives students easy access to the course syllabus, assignments, and grades. Information about your class is as close as their smartphone. Resistance is futile; they will be assimilated.
  3. Grade early and often (rather than one and done). An early graded assignment (or more than one!) helps students focus on the class and gives early feedback about expectations. Even brief practice assignments done in class are useful.
  4. Take attendance, especially in the first 10 days. Taking attendance signals that students need to be in class. It also allows you to reduce inaccuracies in your class roster and end of term success rates (a win for you and for the university).
  5. Use the early warning system. Especially in the first few weeks of class, report students who are absent or are struggling. Early interventions can help students.
  6. Advertise the Student Success Center. Tell students that getting help is normal and not something stigmatized. The SSC provides tutors for many courses and disciplines, as well as general training in study skills, time management, test-taking, and writing.
  7. Support struggling students. Sometimes you can help students yourself. Sometimes you should refer them to university services; UAH has support staff who can help with academics, health, and finances. Your support and your referrals can make a difference.
  8. Work with peer mentors. The Student Success Center has peer mentors in some subjects. If available, refer students to the peer-assisted study sessions. Consider inviting a mentor to your class for a brief demonstration of peer study.
  9. Employ active learning in the classroom. Duh. Lecture less, lead more. Engage students in learning with their classmates. Identify ways of getting them to participate, solve problems, work in groups, and collaborate on projects. Students are not only likely to do better in the course, but will gain skills and confidence, and perhaps some new friends.
  10. Teach students how to learn. Don't take for granted that students already have basic skills. Create opportunities for them to learn common tasks like how to take notes, read a textbook, paraphrase, study for a test, etc.