One way to show students you care — and why you might want to try it

For years, Reesa-Marie Dawkins has included on her course syllabi a note to students titled: “When life happens … send me an email.” In several paragraphs, Dawkins, an adjunct professor for the University of Alaska system who teaches statistics and logistics online, describes the kinds of personal challenges students might confront during the term, and urges them to seek her help when they do. “I will help you get through it,” she writes, “(no matter what it is).”

Dawkins’s message is unusually detailed and personal, but it’s part of an emerging pattern in which instructors seek to communicate their care and concern for students from the outset of a course. Professors, of course, are no monolith, and the matter of how involved they ought to get in students’ lives is in flux. Some point to changes in the college-going population — today’s students are less advantaged than those of years past, and more likely to experience depression and anxiety — and see a need to intervene more proactively.

[ Read the original article at The Chronicle of Higher Education. ]

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