This post was co-authored by Dr. Katia Levintova; Shannon Ribich, a 2021-22 Equity, and Inclusion Intern; and Kate Farley, one of CATL’s Teaching, Learning, and Technology Consultants.
Katia Levintova (Democracy and Justice Studies | 2021-22 EDI Consultant) facilitated a panel of student parents—Anthony Blake, Candace Hoch, and Carl Woitekaitis—on Nov. 11, 2021, from 12–1 via Zoom. Dr. Levintova led the discussion by reviewing the findings from her forthcoming publication with Dr. Kim Reilly (Democracy and Justice Studies) and summarized some of the survey data and challenges they collected about student parents at UWGB, which are consistent with the national statistics and trends.
- Survey of student parents and non-parents on our campus revealed that student parents take significantly longer to complete their degrees but have comparable or higher GPAs than their non-parent peers.
- Student parents prefer online and hybrid formats of instruction over other modalities.
- They are also more likely to use Veteran Lounge, MESA, and Career Services and less likely to use the Wellness Center, Learning Center, and, especially, Kress Event Center compared to their non-parent counterparts.
- Student parents lag behind non-parent students in accessing HIPs, especially teaching assistantships, undergraduate research opportunities, study abroad, and leadership of student organizations.
- Student parents are much less likely to attend co- and extra-curricular offerings on our campus, but the lack of access and ability to partake in these important educational offerings does not mean that they are not interested in having meaningful and challenging learning experiences.
- On a classroom level, student parents report facing additional challenges with group projects and certain classroom policies and types of assignments.
In the panel, Dr. Levintova asked the students questions about whether their experiences as a student parent were typical or not; what things instructors have done that have helped them succeed; and what access barriers exist at UWGB for participating in high-impact practices and co-curricular activities. Here are some ways we can make our university and our courses more student parent friendly.
Changes to Advocate for at an Institutional Level
- Create student parent groups that allow students to co-op for things like notetaking, childcare, or other resources.
- Provide options for childcare that are either financially subsidized or are available on campus, including drop-off options for student parents so that they can attend campus events and utilize campus services.
- Consider partnerships with NWTC or UWGB Early Childhood Development students/faculty to provide childcare.
- Create flexible paths through a program so that students can graduate more quickly.
- Have more family-oriented extra-curricular events on campus for student parents to bring their children to campus.
- Create opportunities for student parents to engage in internships, undergraduate research, or peer mentoring in the major.
- Offer more creative ways to accommodate student parents’ lack of time, including rethinking how we count hours for internships and offering more paid internships to compensate for lost income of working parents.
- Increase awareness or advertisement of services such as the Wellness Center and Learning Center, which are currently underutilized by student parents.
Changes You Can Make in the Classroom
- Share your syllabi with students ahead of time.
- Create multiple options for students to participate in the class (synchronous and asynchronous).
- If the classes you teach are synchronous, consider using class time for group work.
- If the classes you teach are asynchronous, consider asking students about scheduling challenges they might have, and intentionally group students together who may have similar availability.
- For students unable to contribute to group assignments or in-class assignments, create alternative individual assignments and state it on the syllabus.
- Grade group work individually.
- Provide a statement about flexibility on your syllabi that explicitly lists caregiving as something you would like students to share with you so that you can accommodate them.
- Assume good intent and trust your students.
This was the first event in the year-long programming designed to make our classrooms and our academic offerings more student parent friendly. Participants who attend these events or engage with these resources about creating more inclusive class environments are eligible to earn a badge through CATL. Keep an eye out in March for the next event in this programming series.