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4 Connections: Schedule One-on-One Meetings

Overview

Many students will never use your office hours or the extra time you provide before and after class, or online, for questions. It’s possible that in all their schooling up until this point, the only time students went to an office, came early, stayed late, or arranged a meeting was when they were in trouble. Others may be intimidated or think you will judge them if they admit they’re struggling. While none of these concerns may be true, they are real for many students. Building one-on-one meetings into your course as a requirement breaks down this stigma and fear. It also makes it easier for you to find out how each student is doing individually.

Individual conferences are a mainstay of many writing classes - from K-12 through college. There, the student-instructor meetings often occur during “workshop” time when the class is writing. More than providing the instructor with an opportunity to check in, one-on-one meetings can empower students with the skills and information they need to be successful - not only in your class but in college. Through individualized meetings, students:

  • learn how to expect more of themselves;
  • receive constant, timely feedback and clarification; and
  • learn how to manage academic loads (via)

In the short article "Teaching Metacognitive Learning Strategies to Individuals or Groups: A Procedure that Works!" Saundra McGuire shares an approach for 1:1 meetings developed by the Center for Academic Success at Louisiana State University. This model - consisting of six steps - provides "explicit instruction and very specific strategies" for students who have yet to master the learning strategies they need to succeed in college.

McGuire's approach highlights metacognition but also shows how individual conferences support the development of inclusive and equitable classroom climates. One-on-one meetings have the potential to level the playing field when instructors provide under-prepared students with necessary resources and take the opportunity to “renegotiate the teaching-learning process” with their students and facilitate connections between new learning and learning outcomes (Shrum, 2019). And, as with the other 4 Connections practices, one-on-one meetings have the potential to build better relationships between students and instructors.

Connecting Outside of the Classroom

If you are teaching online, or otherwise can’t incorporate in-class conferences into your class, consider the many ways you can connect outside of the classroom. In reference to this practice, Joe Cuseo writes that "[o]ne would be hard-pressed to find any other college experience variable with as much empirical evidence supporting its positive impact on multiple student outcomes" (2018, p. 87).

Cuseo points to research that has found student–faculty contact outside the classroom is positively associated with:

  • student academic achievement and cognitive development
  • personal and social development
  • perceptions fo college quality and institutional commitment
  • educational aspirations, including pursuing advanced degrees (2018, p. 88).

Why do out-of-the classroom interactions have such a profound impact on student success? First, meeting outside of your classroom or office provides an informal setting that fosters comfort and openness, enabling students to share ideas and accept feedback more readily. In this informal environment, interactions tend to be more conversational rather than didactic, allowing students to guide discussions and introduce their own topics. The exchange of ideas can now occur without the evaluative pressure of the classroom, establishing a non-judgmental space. Finally, the personalized one-on-one interaction aligns with effective teaching and mentoring principles, making students feel valued and supported by the institution, which reinforces their sense of significance and contributes to their success (Cuseo, 2018).

Key Features of 1:1 Meetings

Regardless of how you schedule one-on-one meetings, here are three things we have learned that can help you plan and implement them:

  1. The heart of a one-on-one meeting is that the student has your undivided attention as an individual. In other words, they feel like the only person in the room.
  2. The meeting is in no way punitive.
  3. The meeting lasts 10 minutes or less and has a clear focus

Of course, as you contemplate the many benefits of scheduling one-on-one meetings with your students, you may also be wondering how much time this practice will add to your already busy schedule. Although 4 Connections best practices do recommend scheduling multiple individual meetings with each of your students, it’s important to remember that these meetings are meant to be short - just 10 minutes or less. Below, you will find tools and strategies to help you schedule and make the most of these meetings.

Ultimately, it may help to consider that “conferencing individually with our students doesn't take away from instructional time; in reality, it is some of the best instructional time we'll spend with our students” (Shrum, 2019).

References

Cuseo, Joe. “Student–Faculty Engagement.” New Directions for Teaching & Learning 2018, no. 154 (Summer 2018): 87–97. doi:10.1002/tl.20294.

McGuire, Saundra Y. "Teaching Metacognitive Learning Strategies to Individuals or Groups: A Procedure that Works!" Consortium for Student Data Retention Research. Retrieved August 15, 2023. https://csrde.ou.edu/wp-content/uploads/Teaching-Learning-Strategies.pdf

Shrum, Donna L. "Empower Students Through Individual Conferences." ASCD. Published April 4, 2019. https://www.ascd.org/el/articles/empower-students-through-individual-conferences

 

Strategies

Many academic programs at COD build student conferences or individual milestone meetings into their curriculum - English composition faculty, for example, regularly hold conferences with each of the students in their writing classes.

For other instructors, however, it can be logistically challenging to make these regular meetings a reality. In order to benefit from the many positives that come out of meetings, instructors in this position should think about alternative options that might have the same impact or generate similar outcomes.

Meeting Topic Ideas

  • Q&A Form: For each meeting (e.g., beginning, mid, and/or end of semester), provide students in advance with the list of questions you will ask during the meeting. Provide space for them to jot down notes. Also, ask them to write down at least one question they want to ask you. Have them bring the form to their meeting and follow it as needed.
  • Project Process: Build in a meeting as part of a project. This could be a planning meeting to help students get started if they have never done a project like this before. It could be a status report midway or a final review of a draft.
  • Post-Exam Review: Meet with each student and review the exam questions that they answered incorrectly. Ask them to read through the prompt/question and describe how they understood it. You may discover that their answer was correct for how they understood the question. Practice Paradox and add a point to their score (and revise the question to be more clear in the future). When they reveal their thinking process and it is incorrect, use the time to help them understand the topic.

Scheduling Meetings

Faculty members use a variety of approaches for scheduling one-on-one meetings.

  • Office Hours: Full-time faculty frequently use their office hours as the time designated for one-on-one meetings. The use of office hours can pose challenges for students who are only on campus during class time. Office hours are also a challenge for adjunct faculty who typically do not get paid for office hours.
  • Class Conferences: One option is to use regular class time for individual meetings with students. This might look like holding class for all students for the first hour or so of a scheduled period and then following with conferences.
  • Lab Hours: Some faculty members have tightened up their lab documents, creating stronger guides that students can go through mostly on their own/with peers. During lab time, faculty members meet with individual students, taking breaks between meetings to check back in with the larger group.
  • Use Technology: Whether your class meets face-to-face, hybrid, or online, use online tools for your meetings. Both you and your students have easy access to Blackboard Collaborate Ultra (see Learning Technologies' quick tip guide for using Collaborate for office hours). You might also consider, Skype, Zoom, or Google Meet.
  • Use Email: Some students don’t feel comfortable using a webcam (or cannot because of life happening in the background) or online tools in general. A faculty member at Saddleback Community College adapted to this by scheduling varying online office hours where he is available via email for immediate response. He posts the hours clearly and is able to “meet” with a number of students by replying to emails they send during those time frames.

When 1:1 Meetings Just Don’t Work

You might be teaching five courses with 20+ students in each or your course curriculum is too packed to add one more thing - there are plenty of reasons why 1:1 meetings with your students might not work for you. If incorporating student conferences your schedule is not feasible, you can still provide the benefits of one-on-one meetings through alternative means. Here are some strategies to consider:

  1. Office Hours/Student Hours: Designate specific hours each week for students to drop by and seek individual assistance. This dedicated time allows students to discuss their questions, concerns, and progress with the faculty member. Encourage students to utilize these office hours and provide a supportive environment where they feel comfortable seeking help.

  2. Virtual Meetings: Utilize technology to conduct virtual meetings with students. Video conferencing platforms, such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams, can be used to schedule individual meetings where students can have face-to-face discussions with you. This allows for personalized attention and fosters a sense of connection, even if not in person.

  3. Email Communication: Encourage students to reach out via email with any questions or concerns they have. You can respond promptly and provide guidance, clarifications, or feedback through email exchanges. While it may lack the immediate interaction of a face-to-face meeting, email communication still allows for individualized support and guidance.

  4. Online Discussion Boards: Create an online platform, such as a discussion board on Blackboard or a Discord server, where students can post questions or seek clarification on course content. You can actively participate in these discussions, addressing individual concerns and providing guidance to students.

  5. Group Check-Ins: If individual meetings are not possible, try scheduling group check-ins or study sessions. These sessions can serve as an opportunity for students to ask questions, share their progress, and receive guidance in a group setting. While not as personalized as one-on-one meetings, it still allows for interaction and support.

  6. Peer Mentoring: Implement a peer mentoring program where more experienced students can provide support and guidance to their peers. This relieves some of the burden on you while still ensuring students receive personalized assistance and advice.

  7. Feedback on Assignments: Provide detailed and constructive feedback on assignments and exams. This feedback can be given individually to each student, addressing their specific strengths and areas for improvement. It demonstrates that you're invested in the student's progress and provides personalized guidance for their academic growth.

Here are some additional things to consider when opting for an alternative to individual meetings:

  • Consider what you would do if you could hold 1:1 meetings?
  • What would be the ideal outcome of 1:1 meetings with your students?
  • What would you want to learn about from each student? This may be different for every student. Write down some of the questions you would ask.
  • What would you want students to talk with you or ask you about? Write down some of these topics.
  • What activities or opportunities could you create to meet the goals and objectives you have outlined above? Consider asynchronous options as well as options that include using technology.

While incorporating one-on-one meetings into the course schedule is ideal, these alternative strategies can help you provide individualized attention, support, and guidance to students who may not have the opportunity for face-to-face meetings. Flexibility, effective use of technology, and creating a supportive environment are key to ensuring students receive the benefits of personalized interactions despite scheduling constraints.

 

Resources

The Student Perspective

Scheduling Tools

Learn More:

Bibliography

Biehler, Dawn. "Preparing for Effective One-on-One Conferencing." Writing Across the Curriculum, University of Wisconsin Madison. Retrieved from https://dept.writing.wisc.edu/wac/preparing-for-effective-one-on-one-conferencing/

Cuseo, Joe. "The power of student-faculty contact outside the classroom: Supporting evidence and underlying explanations." (2015). Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/284464560_The_Power_of_Student-Faculty_Contact_Outside_The_Classroom_Supporting_Evidence_Underlying_Explanations

Cuseo, Joe. “Student–Faculty Engagement.” New Directions for Teaching & Learning 2018, no. 154 (Summer 2018): 87–97. doi:10.1002/tl.20294.

McGuire, Saundra Y. "Teaching Metacognitive Learning Strategies to Individuals or Groups: A Procedure that Works!" Consortium for Student Data Retention Research. Retrieved August 15, 2023. https://csrde.ou.edu/wp-content/uploads/Teaching-Learning-Strategies.pdf

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  • Last Updated: Aug 15, 2023 3:13 PM
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