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Great Teaching Improves Student Retention

Great Teaching Improves Student Retention

Achieving academic success at the Clark School is hard work. Two decades ago, the Clark School was losing two of three students prior to graduation, according to Associate Dean William Fourney. Today, in a program that has only become more challenging, nearly 90 percent of students who enter the Clark School remain enrolled after the first year. After the second year, 75 percent of students remain enrolled.

What has made the difference? "Our teaching and retention philosophy is 'one student at a time,'" says Fourney. "You must recognize students as individuals who have a great deal to offer humanity. And you need to engage them, as soon as they enter, with classes that have interesting formats and are led by teachers who truly want to be in the classroom with first- and second- year students."

In January 2006, Fourney established this approach through a program called Keystone: The Clark School Academy of Distinguished Professors. By carefully selecting faculty members committed to its goals, the program ensures students the best learning experiences early on and improves student retention and graduation rates. (See graph.) Keystone professors receive a renewable three-year appointment that includes a salary increase, discretionary funds and additional staff. (This article is excerpted from the fall 2011 issue of E@M Magazine.)

October 4, 2011

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