Faculty and student out-of-classroom interaction: student perceptions of quality of interaction
The purpose of this study was to identify ways in which students interact with faculty members outside of the classroom and learn what students believe makes for high quality interaction. Additionally, this study sought to identify successful out-of-classroom facultystudent interaction strategies from the student perspective. This knowledge can aid colleges and universities in promoting more formal and informal faculty-student out-of-classroom interaction, thereby increasing the overall quality of the undergraduate student experience. The study employed a naturalistic inquiry paradigm of research. The author interviewed 25 students at a Hispanic Serving institution (HSI) in San Antonio, Texas. All students interviewed had interacted with faculty outside of the classroom. Six themes emerged in terms of types of interaction: course-related activities; traveling for conferences or study abroad; casual interactions around campus; career and graduate school focused interaction; visiting faculty in their offices (most common); and participating together in campus clubs or athletic activities. High quality out-of-classroom interactions had four characteristics: faculty members were approachable and personable; faculty members had enthusiasm and passion for their work; faculty members cared about students personally; and faculty members served as role models and mentors. The most powerful element of high-quality faculty-student out-of-classroom interaction is that of relationship. The most pronounced differences between underclassmen and upperclassmen were in the areas of going to faculty offices and speaking with faculty about career and graduate school plans. Juniors and seniors proportionately had more interaction with faculty on these themes. Students offered suggestions on how the University could encourage more facultystudent out-of-classroom interaction. Students' ideas revolved around three themes: promoting social events and interaction; stressing the importance of office hours; and suggestions directed at faculty members. Students can also serve as ambassadors to other students by encouraging them to engage in faculty-student out-of-classroom interaction. To continue improving the undergraduate collegiate experience, colleges and universities should strengthen and refine institutional commitment to practices that foster the undergraduate experience, including that of faculty-student interaction. Finally, institutions must remember to keep students at the center of their purpose and find ways to regularly solicit qualitative feedback from students of all segments of the campus environment.