Building Faculty-Student Interactions

From the literature, we know that comprehension can be enhanced by means of frequent interaction and a shared responsibility for learning between students and faculty. These interactions can happen inside or outside of class, and can be both formal or informal.

Getting Started

Listed below are some suggestions for encouraging faculty-student interaction:

Arrive early and leave late

  • This provides more opportunities for interaction with students
  • It also establishes a more informal context than office hours for students to ask questions or express concerns

Move positions

  • Consider teaching your class from a location other than at the front of the classroom

Encourage student involvement

  • Invite students to consider an issue along with you in order to convey the expectation that learning is a joint experience
  • Establish clear expectations about participation and what that means within each type of learning format you plan to use (e.g small groups, blogs, written questions)
  • Request and encourage questions from students, rephrasing these in order to clarify; listen carefully to student responses to your questions in order to ensure they understand what you are actually asking
  • Address to the entire class your answers to individual student questions and then solicit feedback about whether your explanation made sense

Solicit student feedback on a regular basis

  • Stop the discussion five minutes before class is scheduled to conclude to get feedback from the class
  • Pass out note cards or ask that students write down what they felt was the most important information they learned that day and any questions they may have lingering
  • At the beginning of the next class, respond to the students’ questions

Return tests or quizzes in person rather than in class

  • If the class size permits, request that students pick up their assessments during your office hours. This provides an opportunity for informal discussion with your students. It also enables you to offer suggestions to students who may have done poorly on the test or paper (e.g. clarification of material, recommendation to form study groups, meet with a tutor).

Additional Resources

Fleming, N. (2003). IDEA Paper 39: Establishing Rapport: Personal Interaction and Learning.