The undergraduate and graduate student experience is the life-blood of the University.
- Promote high-quality teaching.
- Ensure student success.
- Elevate the unique impact arts & humanities research and creative activity make in the world.
- Provide support to students that increases retention and opportunities for degree completion and enhances career/professional readiness
- Develop innovative experiential learning options that can translate across delivery modes (micro internships, remote global learning).
- Increase retention efforts through more intentional advisor/student interactions especially with low achieving students and those that are in need of increased levels of support.
- Increase availability of advisors and advising leadership to students (more open office hours and increased numbers of appointments).
- Increase contact with students to break down policies and procedures for students into more user-friendly language.
- Effectively refer students to resources such as CAPS, OFA, etc.
- Prioritize efficient curricular pathways for degree/program completion;
- Manage course enrollments with set minimums.
- Encourage accessibility across all course delivery modes, e.g. prepare for the possibility that students enrolled in the same course may access/participate in-person, in a hybrid manner, or completely online (see the CUC’s “Friendly Suggestions” document for more tips).
- Implement guard rails — e.g. ready access to department resources, staff, and faculty — that help keep students on track and engaged.
- Publicize all ‘office hours’ and the preferred ways faculty and staff can be contacted;
- Develop recurring check-ins or other moments when faculty and staff deliberately connect with students inside and outside of class.
- Advertise and actively invite students to apply for available funding support, i.e. scholarships, dept/program emergency funds.
- Operationalize/continue social media plans.
- Open communication channels for students so they have a venue through which to articulate their POVs and put in place a response mechanism.
Note: Many of these strategies below address the fact that promoting student success and high-quality pedagogy involves challenges that may be amplified in remote learning and/or learning in which faculty do not know the mode of the delivery well in advance. These challenges may be especially difficult given the way that these two constraints interact: 1) faculty, especially faculty with the heaviest teaching loads, having significantly increased workloads due to remote/flexible learning demands, and 2) the lack of funds that might under other circumstances be used to promote professional development or other efforts related to pedagogy and student success.
- Prioritize core curriculum necessary for major/disciplinary integrity to streamline time to degree.
- Seek innovative ways, including new online options, to encourage or enhance smaller-class, personalized student experiences even in larger classes.
- Promote educational quality by providing teaching faculty with sufficient time to engage in the intensive, time-consuming work of designing remote courses/online courses/courses that can exist in multiple formats. While reduced service/extra time on tenure clock/adjusted research expectations can do this for tenure-stream faculty, there is no current mechanism for giving fixed-term faculty the substantial extra time it takes for these adjustments.
- Centralize a list of professional development opportunities offered by CAL units, MSU, and externally; possibly email list to faculty weekly.
- Provide additional mechanisms or standing ways for undergraduate students to provide input on how we can best support their learning.
- Regular reminders from unit heads to contact students who appear to be disengaging from the remote classroom (stopped doing work, e.g.).
- Better connection of faculty to advisors. More College communication about the ways that EASE reports can help student success as well as help MSU know how students are doing in a more holistic sense (e.g., instructors might be the first MSU ‘authority’ to realize something is going on in a student’s life).
- Promote a “creativity across the curriculum” approach, using creative assignments to help students stay engaged and motivated; staying motivated will be key to student success.
- College-wide collections of resources for students that instructors/departments can share, including best tips for remote learning, tips for staying motivated, discussions of doing academic work during traumatic world events, self-care tips, etc.
- Start teaching communities made up of instructors that teach related topics in different departments/units (e.g. the early modernists in CAL). Maintain a repository of information/materials that can be used across disciplines.
- Encourage instructors, and provide resources for, remote learning activities that require students to do something away from the screen and report back (again, promoting well-being and motivation/success in students)
- Generate a model of arts & humanities-based online pedagogy.
For Graduate Students
Our guiding values in graduate education are to take care of students, help them fulfill their learning goals, and to maximize their opportunities as best we can while they are with us. We put these goals into action at three levels of priority, recognizing that we are the source of graduate student income and benefits, we:
- Aim to meet their most immediate basic needs,
- Increase the availability of advisors and advising leadership to students. Both formal and informal mentors needed to participate. More individual “check-in” meetings need to be scheduled to keep graduate students connected.
- Increase contact with students, particularly new graduate students to break down policies and procedures for students into more user-friendly language
- Effectively refer students to resources such as CAPS, OFA, etc.
- Move TA/class assignments to online in order to accommodate health and living concerns.
- Incorporate graduate-student input in developing best practices/protocols for engaging one another in campus spaces.
- Review potential use of graduate travel money fund for COVID-19 situations.
- Seek to minimize obstacles that our current circumstances have put in their way and that hinder their learning plans.
- Grad seminars have to accommodate students participating only online. This may also include international students who are participating in online instruction from different time zones.
- Due to disruptions, extensions of degree-completion timelines may be granted. Units/CAL need to effectively assess and accommodate.
- Provide guidance and mentorship for students who need to alter their thesis and dissertation research due to travel and other COVID-19 related restrictions.
- Aim to supplement their experience, wherever we can, to make up for lost opportunities.
- Regular Zoom brown bags for graduate students to present their work to Department or to invite in outside scholars.
- Provide structure for peer support through virtual reading and writing groups.
- More deeply integrate professional development for careers outside of academia.