First-Year Focus: Dining with Faculty
A unique opportunity afforded to students in WSU’s First-Year Focus (FYF) living-learning community is the “Dine with Faculty” program, made possible thanks to support from friends and partnering organizations. For 2017-18, First-Year Focus thanks the WSU Residence Hall Association for funding the third year of the Dine with Faculty program.
Professors teaching courses aligned with FYF can choose to hold alternative office hours in the dining facility for their students’ residence hall. At the close of Dine with Faculty’s second year, both professors and students gave it a thumbs-up.
Contact Karen Weathermon, director of First-Year Programs, to discuss ways to support first-year students.
How Does the “Dine With Faculty” Program Benefit Students?
In fall and spring semesters of the 2016-17 academic year, 21 FYF faculty and 8 teaching assistants dined 209 times with students, who often came to the tables in pairs or groups. More than 420 individual contacts were made between professors and students — and plenty of out-of-class conversations. According to a survey, students who talked to their teachers over one of these meals overwhelmingly reported:
- Dining with their instructor had a positive impact on their course experience
- Conversations during these meals helped them get answers to their questions
- Their confidence about an assignment or exam increased
- Feeling better acquainted with the instructor
“I would like to try to figure out ways to expand these lunchtime meetings. It was very nice to talk to these students outside of class, and we did discuss a number of ‘concerns’—from the nuts and bolts of how to find resources to their sense of isolation in Pullman.” — Richard S. Zack, Entomology 101 Professor
The Value of Faculty Connections
National research shows that contact with faculty members is one of the “strongest predictors of a student’s persistence toward (completing) a degree.”
Learning communities are one of 10 “high-impact university activities” for students that provide significant education benefits; interactions with faculty members and other students about substantive matters is a hallmark of these activities.