Faculty members from Northern Maine Community College presented their published paper on retention during a national symposium in Florida. Dr. Lynne Nelson Manion and Jennifer Graham were invited to the National Symposium on Student Retention which focuses on sharing current research and strategies on student success from enrollment through graduation.
This is the second contribution to the annual convention by Graham and Nelson Manion, who not only explained steps NMCC has taken to improve the retention of Liberal Studies students, but also shared results of their study on how faculty benefit from working on retention efforts.
“While the scope of our study was small, the results are important to administrators who want to know how to get their faculty engaged in retention,” says Graham. “We are often asked why we took the time to study this issue since it’s outside our normal teaching area. Primarily, it’s about wanting to see students succeed; however, being engaged in institutional retention efforts helps faculty develop a more complete perspective. For small colleges, retention has a direct and immediate impact.”
“Our study found that faculty members who implement retention strategies understand their students better and the relationships are stronger. These instructors have higher job satisfaction,” says Nelson Manion. “And positive feedback from retention efforts can be very gratifying to those who participate.”
NMCC has implemented several student retention strategies over the past five years. For example, to help students succeed and persist, the Arts and Sciences Department created a College Success class for all incoming Liberal Studies majors. The college has also created learning communities for specific groups of students. Graham and Nelson Manion argue retention is improved by cultivating a culture that encourages faculty to connect with students in and out of the classroom.
The pair suggest administrators encourage faculty to work on retention by offering support and acknowledging retention efforts and research. “We’re very proud of the research by our instructors,” said NMCC President Tim Crowley. “Research on the community college level is unique, and publishing information from the faculty perspective in the field of retention shows this issue is one we all must address for the success of students and the strength of higher education.”
The national symposium took place in Orlando, Florida November 2-4.