Starting Students' Engines: Motivating and Retaining Students at Risk

Engaging students in a face-to-face or online classroom is challenging. Most instructors work to engage the students for whom more "emotional labor" is required in order to attend class. Students of color, low-income students, first generation students, and students with disabilities are some of the groups we struggle to retain. Dr. Renes will describe six elements of course instruction shown to increase engagement and retention: decreasing teacher power in the classroom and increasing student voice, student reflection, dialogue, critical analysis, and active learning.

Susan Renes is Chair of the Community Counseling Department at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Her research focuses on issues related to rural Alaska, including factors related to indigenous and rural student recruitment and retention in higher education. Dr. Renes presented "Expanding Access for Indigenous Students to the Behavioral Health Workforce Through Distance Education" at the International Congress of Arctic Social Sciences in Akureyri, Iceland, in June 2011. She chaired the roundtable "Indigenous Studies in Alaska: Interdisciplinary Initiatives in Research, Service and Pedagogy" for the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association (NAISA) in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, in June 2013. Teaching distance students and face-to-face students simultaneously in Alaska, as Dr. Renes does, results in inclusive and exciting learning community experiences.

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