Realizing that engagement with faculty is a key to student success and that the transition to college can be especially difficult for students with disabilities, Ball State faculty and staff developed the Faculty Mentorship Program (FMP) for first semester freshmen with disabilities.
The goal of the FMP is to enhance the learning experience for students with disabilities by assigning faculty mentors to each student participating in the program. These faculty mentors meet with students on a regular basis and assist students in dealing with the complexities of the academic experience at the university.
This one-on-one involvement with faculty members gives students a sense of belonging to the university community and a better understanding of the academic expectations.
Specifically, FMP seeks to do four things for students involved in the program:
- personalize the university experience for students with disabilities
- assist students in understanding and meeting the academic challenges and expectations of college students
- connect the departmental major to future occupational goals
- inform students about requirements of students majoring in the faculty member's department as well as student clubs, organizations, and internships available with that major
This program is a collaboration of Disability Services (DS) & the faculty members of Ball State. Taiping Ho of the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology is the faculty coordinator. Ho, Jackie Harris, retired coordinator of Writing and Study Strategies desk at the Learning Center, and Larry Markle implemented this pilot program at the beginning of the fall 2006 semester.
"I have been involved with students with disabilities for many years through preadmission visits, tutoring, workshops, and supervising test accommodations. The value of this program was readily apparent to me. This is a win-win program for students and faculty members. Everyone involved can learn from one another," said Harris when asked why she chose to be involved in the program.
Approximately 50 faculty members participate and over 400 students have benefited from the program since its inception. Faculty mentors were trained by the program's founders at its inception, and subsequent training has been provided.
When asked why she got involved, mathematics instructor Robin Ruffato said: "I am concerned about the success rate of our disabled student population. My hope is that all students realize they have a faculty friend."