Persistence. Retention. Student Success.

Colleges and universities dedicate committees, task forces and even entire departments to improving these measures in response to nation-wide calls for improved graduation rates. Even more important, these factors are fundamental to fulfilling the promise of a college education for the millions of students that enroll each year.

Despite all of this work, many instructors still wonder: Can they truly influence their students’ success?

According to a new report from the American Council on Education entitled “Unpacking Relationships: Instruction and Student Outcomes,” the answer is a resounding yes. Citing numerous studies, the report’s author, Natasha Jankowski, identifies five faculty practices shown to have a significant impact on student outcomes.


Instructors need to clearly communicate learning goals, how students will be assessed and what is expected of them throughout the course.

Pedagogical Approaches

Active pedagogical approaches, including flipped classroom and collaborative learning, “help facilitate student engagement and learning – two elements linked to increased retention and persistence.”

Check out our learning theories page for tips on the many ways that our mobile student clicker app and audience response clickers can help instructors support active learning theories.


Jankowski encourages instructors to embrace both purposefully designed assignments and regular, formative assessments as a means of enhancing learning and retention.

TurningPoint student polling software supports assessment for learning by providing frequent and immediate feedback during class. This lets students easily understand their level of comprehension and enables instructors to monitor learning and adjust instruction based on the students’ responses.


This stresses the importance of students actively reflecting on, monitoring and participating in their own learning process in order to increase persistence and deepen the learning experience.

Enhancing your lecture with clicker questions can spur class discussions and increase active participation. TurningPoint and student response clickers also support collaborative learning pedagogies, like Peer Instruction, where students use polling questions as a jumping off point for debating correct answers and applying concepts in a group setting.


Students need to see connections between class activities and learning outcomes. This again helps them to become more active participants in their own learning while also giving them a more profound understanding of the material.

You can access the full report here, and visit our website for more ideas on how TurningPoint can support instruction and student success.

Jankowski, N.A. (2017). Unpacking relationships: Instruction and student outcomes. Washington, DC: American Council on Education.