Teaching Matters delves into how to improve student retention


Nithin Reddy Nagapur / The Sunflower

Students, staff and faculty sit in on the “Teaching Matters” luncheon on Sept. 9 in the RSC.

When associate professor Moriah Beck started teaching her class, she expected excited students. She quickly realized this was not the case.

Faculty, staff and students sat down last Friday at the semester’s first meeting of Teaching Matter. The event was hosted by the Retention Fellowship, a group of faculty interested in retaining all students.

“I came in with this expectation that they will be like the best students right and so motivated to do well. But you know, we all kind of realize that’s not exactly how it is,” Beck said.

Gregory VanDyke Jr., a senior majoring in criminal justice, said he heard of the event and decided to join the conversation. He said that professors should be more understanding and meet the student where the student is struggling and try to work with them.

“They have to understand that there are other courses and that we are trying to learn as much as we can so we can better ourselves,” VanDyke Jr. said

Faculty looked to the National Institute of Student Success, who advocates for student retention by making students feel comfortable in their schools.

Beck said that according to the survey done by NISS, if students can feel comfortable talking to their advisors about their decisions and feel supported by them, then students would find it harder to leave school.

Students might also find it hard to stay due to financial constraints.

“It also falls into students that may be working and having that commitment competing with their education at the same time,” Beck said.

Gery Markova, chair and a professor of the business school, said she believes students are scared of her, which could impede learning. Markova said that when she took the time to introduce herself to her students that the students were more engaged and interested in the class.

“The teacher makes the biggest difference,” Markova said.

Beck believes that even when students are doing their best in school, all faculty should continue to try and retain students.

“If we could spread this motivation or discussion to faculty then we multiply our efforts because then all of those faculty are reaching their students,” Beck said.