Student Success

Together As Buckeyes, instructors and students have been adjusting to new teaching and learning situations. During this time, it’s important to keep student success top of mind, by reducing stress and building connection, creating inclusive learning spaces and integrating resources and pathways for support.

According to a university-wide COVID-19 survey conducted this spring, instructors and students faced a variety of challenges: transitioning to new technology, struggling to stay connected, food insecurity, loss of income and mental health concerns. Existing challenges were also amplified for our most vulnerable populations, and some students have been facing gaps in their basic needs.

Additionally, as the world takes a stand on racial injustice and pushes to elevate diverse voices, there comes an opportunity to create learning environments that are more inclusive and welcoming and that honor the diverse needs and preferences of students.

In order to face these challenges, Ohio State is encouraging instructors to implement a few simple measures to support student success. Review the suggestions on this page for easy ways to lessen stress, build connection, welcome your students and guide them to the resources they may need throughout the semester.

Learn how to focus on student success during the first week of class.

Reduce stress and build connection

There are a few simple ways to reduce stress for students by removing unnecessary barriers and creating opportunities for students to engage with you and their classmates, and to feel part of a community. Review the following suggestions for establishing and maintaining a rapport with students so that mutual stress decreases and the learning experience is enhanced for all.

Here are some strategies you can incorporate before and during the first week of classes:

  • First and foremost, apply the Carmen Key Four: upload your syllabus, organize content into modules, create assignments to build your gradebook and utilize announcements as your primary mode of communication with your students.
  • Post a welcome video ahead of the first day. Introduce yourself, show your face and your personality, and welcome your students.
  • Start off your class (whether virtual or on-campus) with an icebreaker. Current students shared a collection of icebreakers that you can adapt and use for any course.
  • Create a course communication plan. Tell your students in the syllabus how you plan to communicate with them and how they can communicate with you and each other. Whether you're using discussion boards, Zoom, announcements or email try incorporating detailed language in the syllabus to set expectations from the start. Use the ODEE Syllabus Template for sample language you can customize.

Students share their experiences in courses where the intructors helped reduce stress and build connection. Small changes like providing feedback outside of class and facilitating small group discussions can make a big difference.

An inclusive classroom experience is built on understanding, flexibility, respect and appreciation. Listen as students share their experiences with the inclusive classes that helped them succeed.

Create inclusive learning spaces, wherever and however they occur

Make your course a welcoming and supportive space by thoughtfully addressing diversity in the classroom and being aware of the particular needs of students during the time of COVID-19.

Try the following at the beginning of your course:

  • Develop a statement of support for your course that reflects your commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion (e.g. encouraging diversity of thought, wanting your course to be a safe space).
    • The Office of Undergraduate Education has a diversity statement you can borrow or adapt to make it your own.
  • Make your course more personal by enabling NameCoach, which allows you and your students to record the pronunciation of your names. You can also encourage students to include their pronouns directly in Canvas. If they choose to do so, their pronouns will appear alongside their name in places like People and Discussions.

Integrate resources and pathways for support

Help get students to resources when they need them. You can make a powerful difference for students by integrating pathways for support directly in your courses.

Here are a few ways to achieve this at the beginning of your course:

  • Connect students to resources related to wellness, food insecurity, crisis support, digital wellness, and overall student well-being.
    • The Ohio State: Wellness app is a great place to start for physical and mental health resources.
    • The Safe and Healthy Buckeyes site contains a variety of information for students as they return to campus and cope with COVID-19.
  • Integrate a module supporting students in holistic online learning best practices.
  • When students have questions about using learning tools available to them at Ohio State, the Digital Flagship resources page can help them find answers. Among the resources are a comprehensive technology handbook and a peer-to-peer tech tutoring service to guide students through using CarmenCanvas, iPads, Microsoft Office 365 and more.

Students appreciate having access to resources that help them succeed, including supplemental materials, skill development opportunities and clear expectations for what's coming in their course.