A Student's Road to Success: Faculty as Guides Along the Journey

Concurrent Session 4

Session Materials

Brief Abstract

Faculty ask, “how can I notify someone about a student who needs help beyond my scope?” Student support teams poder how to reach those same online students proactively. Join Oregon State Ecampus to learn about faculty/student support collaborations that offer creative solutions and effective interventions for all.


Marleigh provides leadership to the OSU Ecampus Student Success team to ensure that students have full access to services and tools that can help them achieve their goals. Most of her career in higher education has focused on providing access to and support for diverse students populations. She has a B.S. in Management & Marketing from Oregon Tech, an M.Ed. in College Student Services Administration from Oregon State University, and is currently pursuing an Ed.D in Educational Leadership and Policy from Portland State University.

Additional Authors

Kyle Whitehouse is the Assistant Director for Student Success at Oregon State University Ecampus. She leads the student success coaching team and grows OSU Ecampus initiatives through partnerships across campus and institutions. Prior to her work with Ecampus, Kyle’s roles have included career counselor, instructor, and academic advisor working with students actively exploring majors and careers.

Extended Abstract

Online student success depends heavily on effective partnerships and, at times, creative support solutions that “meet students where they are”. But for the institution and student success teams, that virtual meeting often proves elusive or happens well after the opportunity to provide effective support has passed.  Student success teams can bridge this gap by working with faculty partners to engage students as early as possible and meet students where they are struggling so bumps can be smoothed before they interrupt a student’s journey to completion. 

Online student support teams often include a combination of enrollment coaches, academic counselors, and academic advisers who work together to support students across the academic lifecycle. This intentional collaboration of student affairs professionals creates a reliable network that communicates care for the student’s experience and increases the student’s connection to a vast and distant institution. Oregon State University uses a similar model, but in the last year, we have found that some of the most promising new initiatives are occurring with our partners in the classroom.

A little background on our team: the Ecampus Student Success Team is comprised of both centralized Student Services experts who demystify university procedures and policies and Student Success Counselors who provide academic coaching for new and continuing online students.  We work hand-in-hand with Ecampus Enrollment Specialists and partner closely with academic programs and advisers to ease student hand-offs and problem solving. Building this network provides Ecampus students increased access and easier communication with a host of services that they once had to navigate on their own.

While these partnerships have shortened time to resolution and allowed the university to improve processes overall, we have found that problem solving for student success remains primarily reactive.  Ecampus students do experience increased access, but for the most part, they must still reach out for assistance, and they can only do after they become aware of an issue.  As long as this is our model at Oregon State or elsewhere, there is still a gap in student support.  While tightening connections across our campus is has been necessary, it has not been sufficient for ensuring proactive service.

Online programs nationwide are experimenting with technology solutions that may close this gap.  Oregon State Ecampus is as well, and we are all learning much about the impact and potential of such solutions.  However, the goal of this session will be to share a different approach and valuable insights.  Examples provided can be implemented despite an institution’s technology readiness.

Online students report consistent satisfaction with the resources they access as well as increased confidence in their ability to succeed after engaging with advisors, academic counselors, and student services staff. These are strong metrics, but they can only describe the experience of students who find support when they need it. The conundrum for our own success team has been this: how do we reach students who need support but do not find it on their own. With this focus, we are identifying effective interventions before issues become real barriers.

Collaboration with online teaching faculty broadens the reach of student support efforts specifically because they interact with students “where they are” perhaps most often and consistently throughout an academic term.  They observe student action and inaction and are experts on student behavior that directly impacts academic success in their courses. These intentional collaborations are uniquely powerful for any team whose mission includes providing proactive and wrap-around support for distance students.

In this session, participants will learn about high-impact practices that have allowed students to access success strategies and resources more efficiently and effectively. Examples include targeted outreach to non-active students, class assignments that require success coaching, providing support links built directly into course material, and the natural progression to developing faculty advocates who serve as mentors to online students participating in online student clubs, undergraduate research projects, and study abroad.

For participants just beginning to consider collaborations with faculty, we will share our process and initial projects as well as the adjustments that were made for improvement.  For those who have experience with effective faculty-student support initiatives, we will provide time for sharing so that we can learn from each other.  And through guided discussion in small groups, all participants will leave with a number of practical ideas they can incorporate in their own efforts to scale student success initiatives through faculty partnerships.