Salus University (UNITED STATES)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2011 Proceedings
Publication year: 2011
Pages: 5387-5393
ISBN: 978-84-615-3324-4
ISSN: 2340-1095
Conference name: 4th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 14-16 November, 2011
Location: Madrid, Spain
Courses that use a large lecture format often make it difficult for students to achieve meaningful student faculty interactions. As class size increases students often perceive teachers to be less concerned about them as well as less available to them. Consequently, students in large classes feel the faculty member is less helpful to them when they need academic assistance. In addition, faculty members who are perceived to be unapproachable, which is sometimes a consequence of a large lecture format, are also rated by students as the “worst”.

A concerning issue surrounding students in need of academic assistance is that while students seek help when their academic needs are not great, they are least likely to do so when their need is low (that is to say when they anticipate a high grade) but more significantly they are also less likely to seek help when they have a high academic need (such as when they anticipate a grade of C and lower). In other words, those who need help the most are often the least likely to seek it.

Student-faculty contact, which is often difficult to achieve in a large classroom setting is positively related with student learning. Most successful classroom teachers are also accessible to students outside of class time. While low levels of interaction between students and faculty members exist in all types of institutions, they are especially low at doctoral universities, particularly when high level of research activity takes place. Even the most superficial contact between students and faculty members can begin to bridge the professional gap between faculty and students and may serve as a stepping stone to more substantial interactions later.

One way that some institutions have looked to bridge this gap between students and faculty is to create centers of learning where students can interact with one another, as well as with faculty members in a location other than the faculty member’s office. These centers, however, are not intended to replace formal academic guidance centers. Students report they like these center because they give them the opportunity to work with their peers and receive one-on-one help. Additionally, students who use these centers like being able to hear the questions that other students ask. The course center is not intended to replace a faculty members traditional office hours. Students always need time for private one-on-one conversations with faculty to discuss course performance, receive individual tutoring, or talk to instructors about personal matters.

Although there is little literature on this topic in medical education there are reports that medical school faculty members have the perception that students attend office hours infrequently and that the few students who do attend use the opportunity for examination preparation, rather than for more meaningful academic assistance. A center for learning theoretically should be effective in this setting since it helps faculty members demonstrate their availability and interest in students. A center such as this permits a faculty member to hold office hours in an environment familiar to and comfortable for the student. This approach allows faculty members to achieve the optimal use of their office hours as a teaching tool.

This study reports the result of contact between a faculty member and students in a large classroom after implementing a center of learning to supplement traditional office hours for student advising.