Effective Practices in Supporting of Student-Faculty Interaction

Initiatives that promote student-faculty interaction enhance the quality of student learning as well as students’ overall academic success. For faculty, such interactions inform instructional decision-making and design, enhance job satisfaction and can expand collaborations (for example, in research opportunities). The following UofT practices currently promote and enable such benefits. Many of these initiatives can easily be adapted and implemented in a wide range of teaching and learning contexts (within small and large courses, outside the classroom, in small groups, one-on-one, or online).


  • Create an information-rich course site (e.g. Blackboard)
  • Create an online course support community, e.g. Biome, UT Hub
  • Low-stakes assignment to familiarize with instructor, course websites and establish communication norms; follow-up in class if any problems (or humorous wrong answers)
  • Posting a weekly “digest” or “FAQ” of responses to common student questions (weekly or at particular times of year)
  • Use discussion boards in Blackboard
  • Use the Journal Tool in Blackboard is designed as a communication vehicle between the instructor (or TAs) and each individual student, as a reflection journal to record students’ progress
  • Poll your class on how they would like to receive updates about course information


  • Post help session videos online for common help topics and FAQs
  • Supplement or augment lectures with class lecture videos and student-created Powerpoint voiceovers
  • Virtual office hours (e.g. Blackboard discussion boards, instant messaging, Adobe Connect, or other platforms?) on a regular basis or just-in-time before quizzes, tests, and assignments


  • Using Twitter or texting during lectures to post ideas and pose questions (or, designate certain periods of class, break, or pre-class time when you can receive questions)
  • Clickers in large classes to ask questions and generate feedback from instructor


  • Faculty-led tutorials
  • Faculty-led Q&A sessions for use in multiple related courses, particularly large core courses
  • Group office hours, drop-in sessions or Q&A in bookable library space or classroom, allowing students to ask questions while working on assignments/HW, and possible informal interaction
  • Interactive techniques in large classes to promote discussion (e.g. think-pair-share)
  • Supplemental office hours in an informal setting such as student “home” space, or cafeteria
  • Responding to general assignment concerns in class or reporting on grading done by TAs
  • Promote “open door” policies in class and ask students to come visit your office
  • Schedule face to face meetings with individual students, to improve comfort with speaking up in class
  • Allocate time after lectures to answer questions from students who linger
  • Partner with librarians and learning strategists to attend help/drop-in sessions


  • Create “Meet Your Partner” activities in class and invite random partners to introduce their peers
  • Use tented namecards in class to help get to know students’ names
  • Make use of peer-teaching and small group learning activities to enhance student-faculty interaction
  • Facilitate small group reflection sessions in class periodically, where the faculty member responds/adds to what is shared based on their own experience
  • Spread teaching team members (TAs, team faculty) throughout the classroom to engage with students during group discussion
  • Work with more senior students to peer-teach first-year students and ask them to share their learning experiences with with faculty members
  • Use wikis for collaborative/group work and to communicate with instructors (e.g. http://pbworks.com/)


  • Creation of small courses around field work, research opportunities, first-year seminars or experiential/service learning to promote cohort-building and faculty interaction
  • Assign small group work and consult with each group over the term
  • Schedule field trips as part of an assignment, to nearby locations or further abroad if funding and course size allow
  • Include simulations or hands-on activities to break hierarchical relationship between student and teacher
  • Give direct feedback to students, weekly or at preset times, on their ongoing projects


  • Student course representatives and meetings with faculty (lunch provided)
  • Student-run seminars for faculty, with faculty and staff engagement
  • Pre-scheduled timetable slot for topics to enhance student experience, e.g. study skills sessions, meetings with alumni and faculty
  • Invitations to attend job talks and provide feedback (lunch provided)
  • Invitations to serve on department committees, governance and special interest groups
  • Regular meetings between Chair/Dean/senior faculty and student council groups
  • “Lunch and Learn” series in which faculty lecture on current research or a relevant topic (lunch provided)


  • Fall department open house targeted to first year students, with a chance to meet faculty (food provided)
  • Co-host an event with the students in your course, where they play a role in coordinating logistics, finding speakers, doing introductions.
  • Informal networking opportunities like “Breakfast with the department or “Lunch with the professor” series, to get to know professors in future courses
  • “Speed dating” type event to get to know faculty: an instructor/TA sits at a table and groups of students rotate in 15 minute intervals to ask questions
  • Evening social events such as debates, movie screenings, public lectures
  • Work with student groups to involve faculty in student events (Pub Nites, Fundraisers, Club events, Formals)
  • Summer networking event for faculty to get to know incoming students and share stories


  • Assign groups the task of finding a faculty mentor to assist them with course projects
  • Offer coaching opportunities to teach students skills to engage with faculty (could be partnered with other faculty members, courses)
  • Offer internship or research opportunities, or help students identify placement opportunities
  • Invite students to a forum in which faculty share ongoing research, and students have opportunity to give feedback and ask questions
  • Discuss reference letters in class, who have you written them for, what helps to get to know students before you write one
  • Faculty involvement in professional development/professional skills programming
  • Incorporate faculty-led breakout sessions into student orientations
  • Student-faculty discussions on career planning and future work placements


  • Book club with faculty members, 1-4 times a year
  • “The Real Lives of…” – series to host faculty members to discuss research interests, career path, and personal interests
  • Capstone projects for first-year initiatives such as rezone/genONE, in which students develop a learning experience with community and connect with faculty members in the process
  • Library seminars as part of first-year programming