You have /5 articles left.
Sign up for a free account or log in.

Students walk on Montclair State University’s campus on a sunny warm day

Montclair State University launched an educational campaign to encourage students to take charge of their learning.

Mike Peters/Montclair State University

One of the greatest challenges to students’ academic success is a lack of personal and professional skills. During the COVID-19 pandemic, many learners faltered in their education and have yet to establish strong study habits or self-management abilities that are critical to learning.

To combat some of this loss, leaders at Montclair State University in New Jersey created the “Be a Strong Student Campaign,” which highlights successful habits and practical tips for students and professors. The campaign, launched this spring, promotes a growth mindset and connects learners to the wide range of supports available at the campus, as well.

What’s the need: Montclair instructors noticed a larger number of students were disengaged from their coursework including missing class or not turning in assignments.

“While this always happens to some students, the number of students who were not engaging and therefore [not] learning to their full potential appeared higher,” says Emily J. Isaacs, writing studies professor and executive director for the office of faculty excellence.

Faculty members also recognized there was a lack of awareness among students regarding the resources and strategies available to them including the tutoring center, mental health resources and digital resources for time management and other study skills.

Among the 1,000 or so participants in Montclair’s Academic Coaching program, time management (75 percent), meeting deadlines (61 percent) and monitoring academic progress (56 percent) were the most common areas of focus. That’s on par with national data from Inside Higher Ed’s 2023 Student Voice survey, conducted by College Pulse.

Institutional leaders at Montclair State decided to launch a messaging campaign to create awareness of healthy habits and ways the university can support students.

How it works: The Strong Student campaign is led by Isaacs and supported by several academic and student affairs offices, including the tutoring center, disability resource center, residence life and office for health promotion.

The campaign has two primary channels: faculty distribution in the classroom and general campus messaging on social media and other media.

In the classroom, faculty members can present weekly slides, pre-made by the campaign team aligning with that week’s messaging, that share different behaviors or attitudes of successful students.

Topics range from “Attend Class Like You Mean It” and “Do the Work (on Time)” to “Make Your Own Community” and “Know Your Strengths and Weakness.” Faculty get twice-weekly email reminders from campaign leaders to flag the week’s topic and invite them to faculty-focused programming.

Each slide includes a few practical tips a student can implement and relevant resources on campus. For example, for students looking to better plan their time, the slide highlights parking resources, different types of calendars students can use and recommends the Peer Academic Coaches as a contact for more personalized support.

A slide from Montclair State's Be a Strong Student campaign

During Weeks 2 and 10 of the semester, students are encouraged to plan their time wisely, as demonstrated in the pre-class side faculty members can show to students.

Montclair State University

Strong Student messaging, designed and written by the Student and University Communications team, also appears throughout campus on digital signage, in newsletters and on Montclair’s social channels. The campus newspaper ran an article on the campaign, as well.

The faculty role: In addition to empowering students to take accountability for their learning, the campaign encourages faculty to play a role in developing students’ habits through their pedagogy and course design. The Office for Faculty Excellence hosts workshops and other programs to teach and guide faculty work.

Professors can assist by building scaffolding into their courses that reward strong activities, such as:

What’s next: The campaign launched in January and will be incorporated again this summer into courses for new and continuing learners. Campaign organizers plan to create a survey to identify the effectiveness of the messaging.

One of the benefits of the campaign is that it’s easy to adopt and it validates instructors who may be hesitant of working with students on individual skill development, Isaacs says.

“Our biggest challenge is to gain widespread adoption of the campaign so that all students receive a consistent message and come to believe that their success is possible, and easier than they may believe,” Isaacs explains.

Campaign organizers are looking to frontload instruction to prep faculty members and others to deliver the information across campus, making it more integrated into the academic experience.

“We anticipate that this will be a multi-semester endeavor, and we will continue to gain engagement and impact,” Isaacs says.

Do you have an academic success tip that might help others encourage student success? Tell us about it.

Next Story

Found In

More from Academic Life