Student watching lesson online and studying from home.

Instructors are often in the best position to make an effective outreach to students. A personal note from you can make all the difference for an unengaged student, and given the massive changes they, and many of us, are facing in the move to online instruction, keeping students engaged will be critical. We suggest the following methods of communication:

  • Communicate your expectations via Canvas, ideally using the grading tool so that students can see their progress and current grade.  You should also post a clarifying note about the Credit/No Credit grading system so that students know they need to continue completing assignments in the class.
  • Follow the instructions in “Using Canvas to Track Student Progress to identify students who are not yet engaged in the course material.
  • Follow up with unengaged students with an individual email, sent via Canvas. If you use the Canvas mailer, students will receive the message in their UWM email, but will also receive a notification when they log into Canvas. Depending on their settings, they may also receive a notification if they have the app on their phone. Be sure to use the name of your course in the message so that the copy sent to their email is noticeable. Many students are not checking their email regularly or have reported getting barraged.
  • Remind students how they may visit your virtual office hours.
  • Submit the names of unengaged students via the new Progress Report campaign. This will alert the Persistence Action Team, which will work with advisors and others to develop other means of outreach, including phone calls and text messaging.

Here are some templates for possible messages, informed by Stephanie Fryberg’s work on how best to inclusively engage a diverse student body:

  • Sample Message to Individual Student: Hello, I know this is an overwhelming time for everyone. There are many people who want to see you succeed and I am one of them. Please let me know if you have any questions about this class or UWM. Thanks for reading this and continuing to be part of our class. Your voice and your success matter.
  • Sample Message to Whole Class: I am sending this message to our class community to mention our collective success. A few students haven’t rejoined us online yet and I am not sure how to reach them. The success of everyone matters here at UWM. Please reach out to others you know in class, encourage everyone to continue and let me know how to help. All of us who work at UWM want to see each of you succeed. If you or someone you know has questions, please let me know. I’m here to help find the answers.