My teaching approach stems from my belief in my students and their ability to achieve at high levels if given the right amount of support. I bring research on student success and memory, and extensive modeling and support into my student success classes.

I use actual peer reviewed research studies in my student success course as the foundation for our conversations on student success strategies. This increases the credibility of the course for both students and the campus. Even students who have taken a class on “study skills” will quickly discover that this course is different. The inclusion of research studies reminds students that the strategies they’re learning are based on research and evidence of what works, not simply opinions. Research articles provide an opportunity to focus on content (knowing what works) and process (doing what works) simultaneously. They also provide a shared content where students can apply skills they are learning on readings that are directly relevant to this course (and all their other courses!). This approach also provides an additional layer of skill support, assisting students with how to use scholarly sources early in their college career.

Recognizing that research articles can be quite challenging, I provide students with extensive modeling and support. It is my opinion that you can’t raise the bar in terms of expectations without raising the level of support. First and perhaps most importantly, I select articles that are brief, meaningful and applicable to their lives as college students, and within their reach. Next, I describe the different components of a research article in a simple, straightforward way. For example, I tell students that the introduction section will tell us why the researchers conducted the study. Sometimes we just focus on one part of the article such as the key finding. In the student success course, we don’t go into depth with the technical and statistical language, but instead focus on the research finding and most importantly how students can use this information to help them achieve their goals.

Dr. Christine Harrington is a Professor of Psychology and Student Success and Director of the Center for the Enrichment of Learning and Teaching at Middlesex County College in NJ. She is also the author of a new research-based freshman seminar textbook, Student Success in College: Doing What Works! Prior to teaching full time, she worked in the Counseling and Career Services Department, providing disability services and career, academic, and personal counseling. You can also visit Dr. Christine Harrington’s website.

Continue the conversation! Share your ideas for integrating research or research articles into your student success courses in the comments section below.