A new research paper shows that feedback and interventions from professors can have positive impacts on student success.
The paper, "My Professor Cares: Experimental Evidence on the Role of Faculty Engagement," was published this month in the National Bureau of Economic Research. It was authored by Scott E. Carrell, a professor of economics at the University of California, Davis, and Michal Kurlaender, a professor in the School of Education at UC Davis.
The researchers conducted several experiments, starting with a small pilot on an introductory microeconomics course, according to the brief. The premise was then scaled up to more than 43 classes and 4,000 students at a university.
In the experiments, faculty sent "strategically timed" emails to students that included information about how to succeed in the class, the student's current standing and a reminder of when the professor was available.
The results from the pilot group were successful. Students who received faculty interventions scored higher on exams and homework and had better grades over all than the control group.
When scaled up, the results became mixed. Student perceptions of the professor and course were significantly positive, but student achievements only improved for first-year students from underrepresented minority groups.