Keep Students Engaged with Small, Casual Interactions that Make Professors Approachable

Research Evidence:

Faculty Influence Student Success:

Research indicates that even small interactions make a big difference. Brief connections show students you are approachable. The more undergraduates connect with faculty, the more they stay connected to engineering.

Faculty have enormous influence on student success. Positive interactions offset student fears of isolation, build an open environment for learning,  and retain students. Together, these can lead to stronger course evaluations--a big win-win!

What To Do and Why It Works

Say Hello, Nod, and Smile:

Even if you don't have time to talk at the moment, a smile, nod, eye contact or acknowledgement in the hall or in class tells students you're interested in their success. If students want to chat during a circumstance when you don't have time, invite them to find you in your office later or direct them to someone else who can help. Students need reassurance that they belong in engineering and your attention helps build confidence that they're in the right program.

Use Names:

Using student's names in class connects them to the topic and shows you're interested in their success. No time to remember names? Try using a photo-oriented seating chart, have students make table-tent name tags, or ask them to give their name and hometown when answering questions. Also, include students' first names in the examples you use in class: "Let's say Jennifer was interested in creating a solar stove..." (Next time, use a different name from the roster.)