Inside Higher Ed op-ed cites Lambert and Felten book, ‘Relationship-Rich Education’

Steven Mintz, a professor from the University of Texas, used "Relationship-Rich Education" as one of two examples of books that speak to the power of relationships in undergraduate education in his opinion piece for Inside Higher Ed.

“Relationship-Rich Education,” the 2020 book from President Emeritus and Professor of English Leo M. Lambert and Assistant Provost for Teaching and Learning Peter Felten, was featured in an op-ed from Inside Higher Ed by Steven Mintz.

Elon President Emeritus Leo M. Lambert and Peter Felten, assistant provost for teaching and learning, executive director of the Center for Engaged Learning, and Professor of History.

Mintz, a professor of history at the University of Texas, used the book as an example to support his claim on an issue all campuses should hold in high regard — “the centrality of interpersonal relationships to students’ learning, retention and psychological well-being.”

Lambert and Felten’s steps for creating a welcoming campus environment, encouraging supportive relationships with faculty and staff, and fostering a sense of belonging were included in the op-ed:

  • Make sure that faculty and staff recognize that concern for students’ well-being is necessary to optimize learning and raise retention and graduation rates.
  • Encourage instructors to make their classes warm and welcoming.
  • Make it possible for instructors to provide more individualized feedback and to participate in more student engagement activities.
  • Hire undergraduates to serve as peer mentors, learning assistants, study group leaders and classroom consultants.
  • Place more students in first-year seminars, learning communities (including learning-living communities), freshman interest groups and honors and research cohorts.
  • Do more to encourage students to participate in co-curricular and extracurricular activities.
  • Recognize and reward faculty and staff who do an exceptional job of mentoring and supporting undergraduates.

“Even though it’s far easier to envision a relationship-rich education on a relatively small, predominantly residential campus like Elon, I do think Felten and Lambert are right when they assert that most institutions could offer something similar if they were to make meaningful relationships central to their functioning. But this is impossible if they rely heavily on large lecture courses and treat the instructor role and various support and service responsibilities separately,” Mintz writes.

The full article can be read on Inside Higher Ed.