Edwards College Academic Connections
The importance of students connecting with their faculty has been practically undisputed in retention research. As faculty seek to engage students through office hours, research projects, etc., it does not seem that the issue is a lack of willingness on the faculty’s behalf. A recent study identified the following factors as reasons why students do not utilize office hours: unclear understanding of how office hours work, the use of email to have questions answered, and a lack of approachability on behalf of the faculty member (Smith, et al. 2017). Anecdotal evidence from first-year students shows that they are intimidated by the idea of visiting a faculty office and many have the mindset that “going to the office” is a negative experience based on high school experience.
The Edwards College of Humanities and Fine Arts has developed a program to address this lack of connection between students and faculty. Academic Connections (originally called “Academic Coaching”) began as an event hosted by professional advisors in one of the more popular dining halls on campus. At its conception, the event drew approximately 33 students nightly to meet with faculty. Four years later, an average of 100 students per night are volunteering to meet with faculty through this casual event.