On Friday, 9th September, I’ll be running the workshop, Engaging Students With Holistic Care, at the RAISE16 Conference: Excellence in Student Engagement. It promises to be an exciting event. Like many topics in student success (and even the term “student success” itself), student engagement means different things to different people. And indeed students engage with their educational experiences in different ways: academically, professionally, socially, physically, and so on.
What’s of particular interest to me, and what my workshop will focus on, are the ways universities provide (or fail to provide) meaningful ways for staff to engage the whole student. At Hobsons we call this holistic engagement: understanding the whole student by placing academic performance alongside pastoral concerns through social and community participation. It also means joining up staff across departments, teams, or even the whole institution to communicate key information about a student’s engagement with one staff member and share, as needed and appropriate with others. Holistic engagement leads to powerful, personal conversations between students and staff who are best positioned to help them succeed. It means student meetings start not with what seems to be the problem? but with I see you spoke to Professor Smith about your struggles with statistics. Let’s talk about some resources that might help. The difference this approach makes to students, who crave personal and meaningful relationships with staff, is remarkable.
On Friday’s workshop we’ll unpack the concept of holistic engagement, perform an exercise designed to reveal the complicated webs of support students and staff must navigate to engage holistically and share reasons for optimism. I’m looking forward to the entire conference and engaging in a great conversation with colleagues about holistic engagement and why it matters to students.