Faculty role in student retention

Foster student engagement

Engagement is critical to student retention. In the classroom, make learning relevant and active (Freeman at al., 2014). Set high expectations while offering support (Tinto, 2012; Snyder, 2010). When advising, encourage students to participate in high-impact practices such as internships, research experiences, or service learning.

Gauge student learning early and often

Check in on student understanding of key concepts often throughout the semester. Use frequent low-stakes assessments to measure student learning, identify critical concepts students might be struggling to grasp, and adjust your teaching as necessary. One way to open communication with students is by getting mid-semester feedback through UM's Pedagogy Project.

Notify advisors of students who may need help

The Starfish Early Alert system allows professors to notify both students and advisors when a concern arises about attendance, low scores, missing or late assignments, little activity on Moodle, no shows, risk of failing a course, or other concerns. Advisors are being trained to contact students about any alert indicating no show or danger of failing.

Seek professional development

Connect with other faculty to learn more about supporting student learning. The Teaching Excellence Initiative features strategies for supporting students, implementing innovative teaching approaches and addressing classroom challenges.

Teaching Excellence Initiative

The Faculty Development Office, the Phyllis J. Washington College of Education and Human Sciences, and the Office of the Provost are launching the Teaching Excellence Initiative to provide new sources of support and recognition for outstanding teaching at UM. The initiative includes faculty inquiry projects, online teaching resources, an online course for new instructors, and a summer institute on Scientific Teaching, as well as campus-wide events aimed at developing a network of engaged faculty who share an interest in active learning, assessing learning, and the scholarship of teaching and learning.

Open Educational Resources and OER@UMT Initiative

Open educational resources are teaching, learning and research resources licensed to permit their free use. These resources can include anything from course notes to an open textbook or entire course. OERs can provide more equitable access to course content and promote student retention. UM's new OER@UMT initiative offers grants for faculty to review existing OERs or to adopt, adapt or create them for their courses.

Student classroom experience

Curry Health Center's Faculty Toolkit for Student Success and Well Being offers suggestions for providing flexibility and engagement to students through course design and facilitated connections. 

Institutions across the country offer other examples of effective retention strategies (Hanover Research, 2014).


Freeman, S., Eddy, S. L., McDonough, M., Smith, M. K., Okoroafor, N., Jordt, H., & Wenderoth, M. P. (2014). Active learning increases student performance in science, engineering, and mathematics. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 111(23), 8410-8415.

Hanover Research. (2014). Strategies for improving student retention. Washington, D.C.: Hanover Research. 

Snyder, Bonnie, ed. (2010). What faculty members need to know about retention. Magna Publications Online Seminar Series. Based on Pattengale, Jerry. (2010). What faculty members need to know about retention. Magna Online Seminar.

TInto, Vincent. Promoting student completion one class at a time. Taken in part from Tinto, V. (2012). Completing College: Rethinking Institutional Action. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.