Faculty-Student Interaction (FSI):  Learn More

Faculty-Student Interactions are time-effective faculty efforts that have positive benefits for student learning and success.

Less time-intensive efforts also have positive benefits for student learning and success. Similar to findings that mentoring programs can be more effective when mentor and protégé training is provided, the likelihood of positive faculty-student interactions can be enhanced by providing direction for both students and professors through materials appropriate to each. Dr. Norman Fortenberry, Executive Director ofthe American Society for Engineering Education, explains the significance of this strategy.

Two of the most significant factors affecting engineering student engagement, retention, and academic performance are the quality and extent of students’ interactions with engineering faculty. Positive student learning outcomes are correlated with faculty discussion with students about the nature of engineering work and affirmation of students’ ability to successfully perform such work.

Seemingly small actions by faculty can have a cumulative effect on the retention and success of students enrolled in challenging programs such as engineering. We've done our best to offer these actions for use both in and outside of the classroom. Perhaps you are already doing some of these things, but we’re sure some may be new tools for your teaching toolkit. Your students will notice the changes.

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Faculty-Student Interactions directly impact students’ perceptions of their ability to succeed.

Faculty approachability and accessibility directly impact students’ perceptions of their ability to succeed in engineering and computer science—influencing GPA, academic confidence, and retention rates (1,2,3,4,5,6,7).  

Lack of time, large classes, and competing priorities are barriers to increased interaction with students. But using research-based, time-effective techniques can change students’ perceptions of faculty approachability and access without a substantial time commitment. When faculty engage with students, students are more motivated and more fun to teach (2,8).

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Read the research on faculty-student interaction to learn more about why you should use FSI's in your classroom.

ENGAGE Faculty-Student Interaction Research Brief

"There is a clear link between faculty engagement or mentoring, student satisfaction and degree completion."

Can Colleges Manufacture Motivation? Dan Berrett.  The Chronicle of Higher Education, April 15, 2012 

"Motivation is often thought to be a fixed, inborn personality trait whose presence or absence helps explain why some students succeed while others fail to graduate...
Motivation, these researchers argue, is far more malleable, and colleges wield significant power in instilling—and discouraging—it in their students."

Making the Grade with Students: The Case for Accessibility.  Ken Gall, Daniel W. Knight, Lawrence E. Carlson, Jacquelyn F. Sullivan.  Journal of Engineering Education.  October 2003, pg. 337-343.

"A key rating that appears strongly linked with the overall instructor and course rating is the “accessibility of the instructor.” The instructor accessibility factor outweighs others often cited by conventional wisdom, such as perceived course workload or expected grade in the course."

Why so Few? Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics  Catherine HIll, Christianne Corbett, Andresse St. Rose. AAUW, 2010.

    "...presents in-depth yet accessible profiles of eight key research findings that point to environmental and social barriers – including stereotypes, gender bias and the climate of science and engineering departments in colleges and universities – that continue to block women’s participation and progress in science, technology, engineering, and math." 

    The American Freshman: National Norms Fall 2010Tamar Lewin. Excerpt from New York Times article, January 26, 2011.

      “Women's sense of emotional well-being was more closely tied to how they felt the faculty treated them,” she said. “It wasn't so much the level of contact as whether they felt they were being taken seriously by the professor. If not, it was more detrimental to women than to men.”

      Teaching For Retention in Science, Engineering, and Math Disciplines: A Guide For Faculty   Marie Kendall Brown, Chad Hershock, Cynthia Finelli, Chris O'Neal, Center for Research on Learning and Teaching, The University of Michigan, 2009.

        "...describe specific classroom strategies and teaching behaviors that have been demonstrated to improve student success in STEM."

        Click here for additional research references on Faculty-Student Interaction.

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        Works Cited

        (1) Goodman, I.F. & Cunningham, M.L. (2002). Final Report of the Women’s Experiences In College Engineering (WECE) www.grginc.com/WECE_FINAL_REPORT.pdf

        (2) Lotkowski, V.A., Robbins, S.B., and Noeth, R.J.(2004). The Role of Academic and Non?Academic Factors in Improving College Retention. ACT, Inc. www.act.org/research/policymakers/pdf/college_retention.pdf

        (3) Melsa, J. L., Rajala. S.A., Moshen, J.P.(2009). Creating a Culture for Scholarly and Systematic Innovation in Engineering. Journal of Engineering Education.

        (4) Micomonaco, J. and Stricklen, J. (2010). Toward a Better Understanding of Academic and Social Integration: A Qualitative Study of Factors Related to Persistence in Engineering. Proceedings of the American Society for Engineering Education 2010 Annual Conference, Louisville, KY. Session AC 2010-1467.

        (5) National Academy of Engineering. (2009). New Directions in Engineering Excellence: Keeping Students Engaged.

        (6) Vogt, C.M. (2008). Faculty as a Critical Juncture in Student Retention and Performance in Engineering Programs. Journal of Engineering Education. (97)1: 27-36.

        (7) Winters, K. Matusovich, H. and Streveler, R. (2010). How Student-Faculty Interactions Influence Student Motivations: A Longitudinal Study Using Self-Determination Theory. Proceedings of the American Society for Engineering Education 2010 Annual Conference, Louisville, KY. Session AC 2010-1107.

        (8) Dweck, C. (2006). Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. Random House: New York.

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