Strong Student Campaign: Information for Faculty

All Red Hawks can be strong students. Academic Affairs, Enrollment Management, Student Development and Campus Life, and University Communications have developed a campaign to raise awareness of the behaviors and actions that strong students develop and implement regularly. This campaign makes explicit what it takes to become strong – it’s small, simple acts that, in total, lead to success.

What has become clear to all of us is that many of our students need encouragement, reminders and incentives to take on these acts, and that instructors are uniquely positioned to provide this explicit instruction.

You may not have come to teaching thinking you’d need to teach “studenting” skills, but, in fact, it’s those skills that many of our students need support in developing. Successful instructors teach something much harder than their discipline; they teach learning.

Academic Affairs, Enrollment Management, and Student Development and Campus Life have identified eight key attitudes or behaviors that students can develop. Each week, Student Development and Campus Life and University Communications will promote one themed habit or behavior to students, repeating the cycle beginning in week 9. The Office for Faculty Excellence will alert instructors about the week’s theme and offer guidance for supporting students in developing the behaviors. 

Questions about participating? Comments? Let us know.

What to Do?

Step 1
A Slide a Week: Present ONE Slide from the Deck Each Week of Class
“Be a Strong Student” Slide Deck

Support the Strong Student campaign by utilizing the slides that are available for your download and customization (make them better!)

The idea is to use ONE slide each week, projecting it on screen* as students enter class. You won’t be surprised by the slides’ content — it’s all those little tips you might think of but not actually articulate consistently.

*For asynchronous courses, consider including the message, adapting as appropriate, as a part of your weekly overview or announcement.

Slide Themes:

  • Attend Class Like You Mean It 
  • Plan Your Time
  • Take Care of Your Health
  • Do the Work (On Time)
  • Seek Academic Help
  • Deal with Absences Effectively
  • Know Your Strengths & Weaknesses
  • Make Your Own Community

You can also incorporate Wendy Nielsen’s simple “Be A Strong Student” Canvas page found on Canvas Commons to underscore the message.

Step 2
Reinforce Each Week's Theme

Instructors are also invited to extend their participation further and utilize the instructor strategies that we suggest for each theme.

Instructor Strategies, Week by Week

Step 3
Intervene Early and Frequently to Cultivate Strong Student Behaviors

Many college instructors imagine a clear line between high school and college students when they construct their course plan, picturing self-actualized young people who have developed the actions and behaviors that will enable them to succeed. In reality, the journey to maturity is a long one, and perhaps especially so for many students who lived through the pandemic.

Universities have adapted to this reality by building ecosystems of mental, academic, and life support for students. Instructors need to adapt as well by delivering courses that are scaffolded with incentives for behaviors that support learning.

Help students take on the right behaviors. Require and reward these strong activities:

  • Take attendance (even if you aren’t planning to count it toward the grade directly.)
  • Assign homework regularly — students learn best with manageable, consistent prompts for engagement.
  • Require (and evaluate) engagement with readings, viewings, or anything you assign for homework.
  • Require attentiveness in class; and, here’s the hard part — react and respond when students are not attentive.
  • Use Navigate to identify students who are struggling. There are two reporting periods each semester, and instructors can also enter “alerts” at any time.
  • Embrace in-class participation activities that count — quizzes, presentations, in-class writing or problem-solving, group work with worksheet, etc. Make it obvious that class matters, and that it’s a place of active learning.
  • Spread out the points — students should start earning points by the second week of class, and they should continue to do every week throughout the semester.
  • Make your expectations explicit. For example,
    • If you want laptops closed, say so.
    • If you want phones removed, say so.
    • If you want every student to speak once in a class, say so.
    • If you think students cannot learn in a class if they have not completed the reading, say so.
  • Make referrals. Talk to students individually, pointing out concerns you have and referring students to resources.
Additional Resources

These are just a few positive student learning behaviors we recommend. For more, please come to an OFE workshop or read more on these pages:

Active Learning: Specific, manageable techniques to maximize student engagement and value for your class sessions.

Attendance: Design a strategy that increases students’ belief that attendance matters and plan what you’ll do when a student’s attendance is poor.

Assignments & Assessments: Authentic assessment, formative assessment, assessment add-ons like problem-solving logs, exam wrappers, minute papers, “muddiest point” questions.

Collaborative Learning: Groups and Teams: Techniques for making sure groups work well.

Connect with Students: Students learn best when they feel connected to their instructors, and it’s not so hard to connect as you might think.

Flipped Learning:  Ask students to read, view, and digest material at home, and then apply, demonstrate, and perform in class, individually or in small groups.

Grading Methods and Strategies: Plan a manageable approach to grading that enhances student learning

Campaign Partners

The Strong Student Campaign is a collaborative effort inspired by instructor and staff voices of concern for students, led by an ad hoc committee:

  • Academic Affairs: Danielle Insalaco-Egan, Acting Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education and Acting Dean of University College; Emily Isaacs, OFE Executive Director; Catherine Keohane, OFE Associate Director for Teaching and Learning; Julie Mazur, Assistant Provost for Academic Success and Tutoring.
  • Enrollment Management: Tara Morlando-Zurlo, Director of Red Hawk Central
  • Student Development and Campus Life: Marie Cascarano, Assistant Director for Health Promotion; Tory Elisca, Assistant Director of Residence Life; Hannah Lindeblad, Student Communications Manager; Kelsey Nyman, Coordinator of Student Communications; Timothy Pure, Assistant Director of the Disabilities Resource Center; Dom Sylvester, Student Communications Technical Director; Antonio Talamo, Assistant Director of Student Involvement.
  • University Communications: Elyse Fernandez, Media Relations Coordinator; Paul McGroarty, Social Media Manager.
Strong Student Campaign in the Media

It’s Time to Start Teaching Your Students How to Be a Student (The Chronicle of Higher Education, March 19, 2024)

Academic Success Tip: Weekly Skill Building for Students (Inside Higher Ed, Apr 29, 2024)

How to Build a Better Student (EAB podcast, ep. 194, Apr 30, 2024)

NB: Montclair employees have access to The Chronicle; sign up with your Montclair email.

Last Modified: Friday, May 3, 2024 12:22 pm