While many student success initiatives focus on changes in the structure and practice of how colleges engage with students, front-line staff in admissions, records, financial aid, counseling and assessment have been largely left out of the conversation. But interactions with these staff can influence a student’s sense of belonging.
The Institute for Evidence-Based Change (IEBC) has developed Caring Campus, a program that aims to cultivate stronger connections between students and staff. Caring Campus was originally launched in 2018 in the San Diego/Imperial and Inland Empire regions of California, and we’ve committed $1 million to expand the program to more colleges across the country over the course of two years.
For this project, IEBC selected 20 institutions from different regions nationwide, representing a diverse cohort of students, faculty and staff. Through intensive coaching, IEBC is helping the colleges:
- Identify student success efforts that could benefit from additional staff engagement
- Partner with the Center for Community College Student Engagement to conduct surveys on student and staff engagement
- Define baseline metrics and determine data collection strategies
- Map interaction points where staff have the opportunity to make meaningful contact with students
- Develop a set of behavioral adjustments to improve student-staff relationships
- Create a plan to monitor progress
The first 10 community colleges began their work in Fall 2019 and the remaining 10 will begin in Spring 2020. We’re hopeful this project will broaden awareness of the importance of strengthening student-staff relationships, and we look forward to learning more about how this work can contribute to student success.