Each year, about one-third of Metropolitan State University of Denver undergraduate students do not enroll for the following year. This amounts to about 5,000 students in every fall-to-fall span who either stop out or transfer. The impacts of students not retaining are deeply personal and also have a significant impact on the lives of faculty members and everyone who works for MSU Denver.  

While the University has initiated multiple efforts to increase student retention, supported by many passionate and experienced staff members and administrators, faculty members can play an important and unique role in helping students persist to graduation.  

Faculty members are able to see more closely students’ strengths and challenges, and they tend to know more about their students’ particular life circumstances and their hopes and dreams. 

Faculty members are encouraged to consider and integrate the following high-impact practices for student retention:  

  • Connect alumni with current students, beginning with freshman nonmajors.  
  • Foster connections among students and between students and instructors with learning and connecting activities.  
  • Connect students with campus resources (Health Center, Counseling Center, Tutoring Center, Writing Center, C2Hub, etc. — more info included on subsequent pages).
  • Reduce student costs by using Open Educational Resources whenever possible (more information below).  
  • Offer assignments/experiences to promote degree progress and career planning.  
  • Use writing-intensive assignments (be careful not to overdo this practice).  
  • Assign collaborative assignments and projects where the rules of student collaboration/contribution are clear.  
  • Offer opportunities for undergraduate research and research presentation.
  • Promote diversity/global learning, service learning, hands-on community-based learning and internships.

Retention-focused reflection questions and activities for faculty members: 

  • When I look at our University, college or department through the eyes of a student who is thinking about leaving the University, what would I see?  
  • When I look at our University, college or department through the eyes of an affiliate faculty member, tenure track faculty member, staff member and/or work-study student, what would I see?  
  • With the goal of student success and retention in mind, what are the first, second and ongoing steps that need to be taken in my leadership?  
  • With everything else, how can I keep these steps moving? Who or what could help me?  
  • What are my major learning goals for my students, and how do my course materials help support that learning?  
  • Has the cost barrier for materials (textbooks, online homework systems, etc.) changed the way I teach?  
  • What would my ideal class learning materials look like?  
  • How do I want students to engage with my learning materials?  

Visit this guide to learn about small changes that will help students succeed in their classes and all the way to graduation.