The Bennett College faculty prepared for the start of the spring semester with the Faculty Institute, a series of workshops that reiterated the College’s academic theme, “Students First.”
Dr. Carl Jones, vice president for student services and enrollment management at Clark Atlanta University, spoke at the Institute, offering tips to help Bennett with one of its major focuses: fostering success among first-generation students.
Jones explained through statistical findings that first generation students are less likely to invest in rigorous coursework and are also less likely to develop extensive career aspirations. For that reason, he encouraged the faculty to put forth an effort to reach out to their students, especially those who need the mentorship that most first generations are not receiving.
“Students learn early on who they can go to for advice or who will help them if they don’t understand something in the class,” he said. “The Bennett experience can be a wholesome experience for every student if you help them feel that this place of academia is really where they belong.”
The importance of a technological classroom was another important topic of discussion throughout the day. Senior Associate Provost Dr. Joyce Blackwell encouraged faculty to break away from the “legal pad education” of yesterday.
“We don’t live in the time anymore, like when I was growing up, where it’s effective for the faculty members to come in with their long yellow legal pad that contains their lecture notes,” she said. “No longer can we reach students that way. We have to get creative by using the different forms of technology.”
Dr. Audrey Ward, the director of the honors program, said, “We have to be more interesting than the cell phone.”
She reiterated her point by encouraging the faculty to pull out their mobile devices. From there, she asked a series of questions, asking attendees to text their answers. The variety of responses soon showed up on the screen during her PowerPoint presentation, showcasing just one innovative way to carry on a discussion in a classroom setting.
Dr. Esther Terry, president of the College, shared her faith in the College’s educators and their ability to embrace innovation.
“What I really respect about the best of our faculty is that they come back, and they try again and again, and they do what teachers have done for all time,” she said. “They strive to be good at what they do.”