Over a decade ago, Elizabeth Whitt wrote an article for About Campus (January-February, 2006), asking “Are ALL of Your Educators Educating?” I still think about that article today (hence, writing a blog about it in 2018). I agree with the opening statement: “Institutions that excel are filled with educators in the curriculum and the cocurriculum who believe student learning is everyone’s business.” I wholeheartedly agree, and I think the article is still relevant today as we talk about student success and retention. It’s great to get students to graduation, but we cannot underestimate what goes on between matriculation and graduation in terms of student learning.
Whitt made 10 recommendations about creating an engaging campus.
1. Focus on student learning. Period.
2. Create and sustain partnerships for learning.
3. Hold all students to high expectations for engagement and learning, in and out of class, on and off campus.
4. Implement a comprehensive set of safety nets and early warning systems.
5. Teach new students what it takes to succeed.
6. Recognize, affirm, and celebrate the educational value of diversity.
7. Invest in programs and people that demonstrate contributions to student learning and success.
8. Use data to inform decisions.
9. Create spaces for learning.
10. Make every residence hall a learning community
I think all of these ideas are invaluable, especially when used in concert with each other. In the article, Whitt provided reflective questions to consider after the explanation of the recommendation. The questions make you think about where we put our resources, how we integrate the curricular and cocurricular, how we communicate across the institution and with students, and more. I believe that every staff member in student affairs, regardless of position, education level, or time at an institution has a role in educating students and contributing to their success. We shouldn’t leave learning, teaching, and education just to the faculty—we have to be partners in student success.
Are you educating to your fullest potential?