For the current semester, my in-class research centers on investigating the impact of one-on-one meetings with students within the first week of class. I was driven to begin this research because I had mandated that students meet with me at the beginning of the semester, so I could get to know them better than in previous semesters; however, I was unaware of any data supporting the utility of such meetings. As instructors of psychology we encounter hundreds of students (or more) per year. We also know that if students feel a connection to the class or the instructor they are more likely to remain engaged and invested in their education (and just before the time of writing I came across this article: “Student Success in Introductory Psychology: The Value of Teachers Knowing More About Their Students” by Wu and Kraemer (2017) which I will need to read). So, my primary motivation with this project is to figure out how an instructor of psychology can work to form a meaningful connection with all students?
I have yet to analyze any data, as we have just finished the data collection process. However, the goal of this work is to illuminate the impact and effectiveness of holding one-on-one meetings with students in two sections of introductory psychology with approximately 30 students in each class. The meetings were required as the very first assignment of the semester given out during the first class. Students needed to contact their professor and schedule a five-minute meeting sometime within the first ten days of the semester. For their meeting, students had to complete a ‘getting to know you assignment’, where they answered questions about themselves and reflected on their goals and expectations for the course. To determine the effectiveness of the required meetings students were surveyed three weeks after the conclusion of the meetings. The survey focused on student perceptions of the meeting, usefulness of the meeting, and how it impacts their engagement in the class compared to their other classes where they did not meet with professors individually.
Further developments to this assignment and the class structure can be included based on student feedback. If the data show that students benefit from designated time meeting their professor, then required one-on-one meetings with students can be implemented more frequently across all courses. One question that has yet to be broached is how to accomplish something similar with larger classes. I know that I am in a somewhat unique situation where the largest class I will have is about 25 students. For larger classes, would it be beneficial to have mandatory meetings in groups of two or three students? Even for my class of 26 students this semester, having all of the one-on-one meetings was incredibly time intensive, but then again so is every research project. At the end of the day, if these meetings facilitate the formation of a quality relationship with one more student by the end of the semester, then the time is certainly time well spent.
written by Brian Day