Dr. Stacy Russell Thorne, English professor at Tarrant County College, expresses her gratitude to Dr. George Kuh after his lecture about bridging the gap between students and teachers’ relationships. The teaching symposium took place in Lou’s Pavilion Feb. 28. Erica Estrada | Rambler Staff

On Feb. 28 Texas Wesleyan hosted a teaching seminar featuring Dr. George Kuh, a higher education specialist, to discuss ways to bridge the gap between students and teachers’ relationships.

Kuh, chancellor’s professor emeritus of higher education at Indiana University, said he wanted the seminar to review what matters to student success, examine some key indicators of quality such as student engagement and illustrate the kinds of policies and high-impact practices that channel student and institutional effort toward educationally purposeful activities.

“There are many teaching practices that if we use them more often and more effectively, more students would get out of their education what they want,” Kuh said. “They will be better prepared to live a self-sufficient, economically-productive life.”

Kuh is the founding director of the Center for Postsecondary Research and the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE). His research interests include assessing student and institutional performance to improve student success.

Currently he directs two major projects, the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment and the Strategic National Arts Alumni Project.

Kuh said he believes teachers have been underutilizing practices that have already been in place to enrich student learning and promote educational achievement.

Kuh emphasized the high-impact educational practices throughout the seminar as a blueprint for the entire program itself.
The high-impact practices include: first-year seminars and common intellectual experiences, learning communities, writing-intensive courses, collaborative assignments, undergraduate research, diversity and global learning, service learning, community-based learning, internships and capstone projects.
“We, as faculty, need to be more willing to try the things that are different from the way we were taught, so that more students today can benefit from it,” Kuh said.
Mary Landers, instructor of mathematics at Wesleyan, said she took away from the seminar the importance of the high-impact practices.
“I teach developmental math with mostly freshmen students, and I am going to try to incorporate some of that thought in what I do in the classroom,” Landers said. “I know math is really hard, but if it helps them do better in math, it will inspire them to do better in their academics overall.”

Kuh also said Wesleyan faculty need to get students involved in seminars like this one because having different perspectives at the table is very important.

“Students typically end up with the best ideas in terms of how to respond to problems that affect them,” Kuh said. “Institutions should be confident about having more students involved in these types of discussions.”

Joshua Dunk; jkdunk@txwes.edu