Developing teaching practice


Purpose: Faculty-in-Residence (FIR) programs are implemented based on research that shows positive effects on student success when students interact with faculty outside of the classroom. However, most research is limited by cross-sectional studies of only students and does not look at the Faculty-in-Residence programs from a holistic perspective that investigates the impact on faculty. This study focuses on the impact, not only on students over time but additionally on the perceived impact on faculty who participate in Faculty-in-Residence programs.

Methods: We examined the effect of FIR programs at a large, public California university on both student success (i.e., cumulative grade point average, retention, and credits earned per unit attempted) as well as student experience (i.e., based on data from the National Survey of Student Engagement).

Results: The quantitative results confirm the literature that faculty-student interactions outside of the classroom are statistically significant but point to differences between the demographics of students and that the mere presence of faculty is not as important as the quantity and quality of interactions.

Conclusion: FIR programs can contribute to student success, but the magnitude and direction of this link depend on the level of the interaction between students and faculty as well as the specific outcome of interest.

Practitioner Notes

  1. Educators who engage students outside of the classroom should focus as much on the quality of that engagement as on the number of engagements.
  2. Administrators of FIR programs should focus on supporting student-faculty engagement rather than the mere availability of faculty to meet students.
  3. Living on campus alone appears to have a weak and slightly negative association with student academic performance. However, this trend can be counteracted by the addition of faculty living in residential communities.
  4. To boost retention, consider incorporating faculty into your Living-Learning Communities, or Themed Communities.
  5. University administrators should consider the educational effectiveness of student-faculty engagement in on-campus residential environments, in addition to classroom engagement and curriculum advisement.

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