Have a valued instructor? Remember to say thanks

‘Thank-an-Instructor’ program runs through April 8

KINGSTON, R.I. – March 29, 2024 – Saying thank you is the easiest way of showing appreciation and the University of Rhode Island’s Office for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning is making it even easier to just say thanks.

The office is piloting an initiative this spring that makes it simple for students to express gratitude to an instructor who has positively affected their journey at URI. The “Thank-an-Instructor” program runs through April 8—all you need to do is complete the form to say “thanks” to a valued instructor.

Penny Edwards, faculty development specialist, has overseen development of the initiative, working with colleagues in the ATL office after a faculty survey and numerous conversations with instructors showed them dealing with a feeling of being overwhelmed and exhausted.

“All of us have experienced such dramatic shifts over these last several difficult years, and those shifts continue,” said Edwards. “Since our office works to help instructors, we wanted to develop a program that could offer a meaningful impact for those who teach at URI.” 

The Office for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning will review comments and send them to instructors. In filling out the submission form, students can choose whether or not to remain anonymous. Anonymous notes may be sent to instructors prior to the end of the semester, while notes that include student names will not be shared until after grades are submitted. 

Christopher Lavan, associate vice provost for the advancement of teaching and learning, said the program aims to nurture a culture of appreciation and recognition for faculty and instructors, showing them evidence of their powerful impact on the University community and fostering a feeling of belonging and morale. 

The program is not intended to serve as an evaluation of the instructor’s performance and is not connected to the University’s formal instructor review process conducted at the end of each semester.

“Part of the University’s strategic plan is rooted in fostering an inclusive culture where cultivating a sense of community is paramount, and recognizing the outstanding members of our community is key,” said Lavan. “Our office contributes to that goal in several ways, but in particular our aim is providing support to all members of the University’s instructional community. The ‘Thank-an-Instructor’ program helps us do that because this program strengthens the bridge between students and their instructors by providing URI students with a formal platform for appreciating those that work hard to teach them everyday.”

For more details, check out the “Thank-an-Instructor” webpage.