By Joelle Fredman, NASFAA Staff Reporter
While many university faculty members want and believe it is their responsibility to help their students succeed in higher education, they do not necessarily know how, a panel of faculty members said during a Tuesday morning session.
Dr. Sara Prewett, a faculty member at the University of Missouri, and Dr. Brian P. Hogan, a chemistry professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, shared with NASFAA members how the financial aid office and faculty can collaborate in their efforts by leveraging their unique relationships with students, and allow faculty to “be a bridge between student aid and student success ”
For example, Prewett said that while a professor may notice that a student in a classroom is falling asleep, they may not make a connection between the exhaustion and a financial struggle, such as the need to work multiple jobs.
“We want to help but we don’t know how… We don’t know how to identify students at risk,” Prewett said.
Hogan said that data on first-generation and low-income students and the grades they were receiving inspired professors at his university to change their course structures to better serve those students, and led to a creation of a dashboard that provides information to faculty after grades are submitted about students financial statuses, such as whether they are Pell-eligible through a collaboration between the aid office. Hogan said that when professors know “who their students are and where are coming from,” they can assist them by adjusting the way they teach, such as including more hands-on exercises.
Prewett added that it is extremely helpful when faculty members are asked, such as via email, about how a specific student is performing in a course so they can be made aware of the student’s struggle and reach out for help for that student. Prewett said that at the end of the day, “we all do care about our students,” and that even if faculty needs to be nudged to provide that information, the aid office should persist. Hogan suggested that aid offices set up meetings with faculty members to open up the conversation about how to collaborate, in response to questions around how to ease tension between offices.
Publication Date: 6/26/2018