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Cohen & Ibrahim, Change, May/June 2008

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The importance of faculty members connecting with students

How and why university students succeed continues to be an important topic of discussion. At Purdue University Calumet, it also influences our decisions and drives our strategies.

The campus community emerging at Purdue Calumet, by design, is shaped to help our students make decisions that lead them ever closer to earning a Purdue degree.

We know that a higher percentage of students who attend college full time earn degrees than those who attend part-time. While we are encouraged that more Purdue Calumet students are choosing to attend full time, we also know that we must make an extra effort to help part-time students succeed to graduation.

One reason why full time students graduate in higher numbers is that they have more opportunities to interact with their professors. Interaction and personal connection with faculty tends to help keep students on track. Part-time students who come to campus for a class or two and then leave campus to attend to work and/or family responsibilities find it more difficult to make time to meet with their professors.

This situation, however, does not need to be an unalterable fact of life. When faculty members take the initiative to structure meeting time with students in conjunction with the classes they teach, all students benefit.

It is important that faculty and students see their interactions as a core part of the educational process. More than idle conversations, these moments of interaction may be the occasion for new and deeper understanding, or the source of a connection of ideas that stimulates further learning. Often, these “off-line” conversations motivate students to work a little harder, or, perhaps, strengthen their commitment to a major field of study.

By building interaction time into the educational process, faculty members can help all students. Interestingly, by increasing interactions with part-time students, faculty members also increase interactions with full time students. By being intentional about student engagement, we contribute to student success.

Sincerely,

Howard Cohen
Chancellor



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