Empowering Faculty to Support Academic Persistence through a Blended, Scholarship-Based Faculty Professional Development Program: The Persistence Scholars Program

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Michelle Miller
K. Laurie Dickson
Rachel L. Koch

Abstract

While it is well-known that faculty-student interaction is key to student success, few institutions have directly leveraged faculty in supporting academic persistence. Many myths about persistence proliferate, and faculty can unwittingly hinder persistence by implementing the wrong kinds of practices. Faculty are most empowered to support student persistence when they understand and care about this issue. They are also better equipped to help when they have a good, current command of the body of knowledge relating to persistence. To address this, we created a blended faculty development program to engage faculty in the scholarship of academic persistence, addressing myths and misconceptions about persistence, and expanding understanding of what it is like to be a first-year student at our university. The Persistence Scholars Program engaged a total of 32 faculty over two semesters, beginning with pre-readings and an in-person daylong workshop followed by an eight or ten-week course. The curriculum was built around a central text, Completing College by Vincent Tinto, and selected empirical and germane articles. Participants engaged in online discussions and two experiential projects, including one that asked them to complete an activity that would enhance their understanding of first-year students’ experiences. Assessments of this program focused on participant ratings of target competencies (e.g., the ability to identify and dispel myths about why students persist), perception of usefulness of different specific assignments and materials, and suggestions for how the program can be refined for future cohorts.

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How to Cite
Miller, M., Dickson, K. L., & Koch, R. (2019). Empowering Faculty to Support Academic Persistence through a Blended, Scholarship-Based Faculty Professional Development Program: The Persistence Scholars Program. Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 19(1). https://doi.org/10.14434/josotl.v19i1.26786
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