I have characterized the following observations as Student Connection to Faculty because all of the students, with the exception of Ben, note that their instructor knows specifically about their work; this is then another indicator of a high level of student-faculty interaction. Ben’s comment is quite general: “I’ve kind of built up this little relation with the teacher, and she knows me pretty well. . . . you knew everybody there.” Other students, though, talk specifically about how their instructor knows not only their writing but also knows them. As Dan says, “I have the opportunity to be with the same instructor who knows my strong areas and my weak areas, and I felt more relaxed being able to do that.” Dominique echoes that sentiment: “In this class, she really was focusing on where are the weaknesses of each student, and then she worked with us. . . . What I like too is . . . it’s not as anonymous as other classes, she knows your name.” Sean, a nineteen year-old student who went directly from high school to college, makes a similar comment: “I’m really getting to know Laura, and she knows my problems, she knows my writing style, she knows what I’m doing wrong, and she can help me. . . . Going into 101, she already knows so much, it’s nice.” Jason’s feelings are the same: “she really worked with your problems, and if you were off in any way she helped out and gave suggestions and pointed you in the right direction.” In each case, the student appreciates that the instructor is aware of his or her personal problems with writing; the feedback they receive is not anonymous, but specific, and as such is much more productive for the student, who feels as if she is being responded to individually and respectfully.

As Jason said, “She knew what she wanted and made it clear what she wanted as far as the papers and what was expected.” For Pamela, knowing that she was going to have an increased level of predictability encouraged her to enroll in Stretch: “You will be taking the same instructor so I knew there would be some of the same teaching.” Tammy, like Pamela, also enrolled in the program for this reason: “It definitely made me feel more secure in that I would be with the same professor and I would go through both courses and that I would spend a year doing this to refresh my skills.” When I asked her why this was appealing, she said “security reasons, to know that what I would learn from her in one semester I could still relate with her and bring to the next semester. . . .Every time you go into a new class each semester you’re starting from scratch, so to have the same professor was definitely a big difference.” Tammy and Pamela, then, anticipated that they would be able to get to know the professor, or at least her expectations, much better if they were with the same professor for the year. Both students felt that understanding the teacher’s expectations—the kind of understanding that gets built up over time—would increase their comfort level and their chances for success.

Robert, like Jason, didn’t find out that Stretch was a possibility until the end of the semester, and took the option because he “was familiar with how she wanted things done. . . I’m more comfortable with somebody I know what they want, I know what they expect . . . which is one reason why I wanted to continue with her. Going with somebody else, I may not feel too comfortable with the professor . . . .I feel more comfortable, when I’m learning something new . . . I’d much rather be with the same teacher.”

Mario, a nineteen year-old student who is fluent in Spanish and English, expressed the same sentiment: “I thought that if I got in e90 with the same teacher and then moved on to e101 with the same teacher I thought it would be . . . easier, just like in high school, because you already know the teacher and they know you. . . . The teacher knows me, we know each other, you feel more comfortable being with the same teacher in English.”

When I asked Eiko if she felt more connected, she said “Connected. That would be a good word to describe this class. And you feel more important because your professor will remember about you from last semester. . . . She remembers most of the stuff that we talked about in the previous class.”

Joe is perhaps the most articulate on this subject in that he also mentions how important it is that the student is getting to know the professor: “I think, there’s a lot that comes into play. I would say mostly getting to know your professor, just because not only do you get to know them but they also get to know you, the style of your writing. I think personally [that it would] be a lot more beneficial for them to give you advice because they’ve seen your writing over a long period of time, whereas one person sees it one semester, and the next person totally doesn’t even know and sees it the next semester. So. . . they can also see the progression, and where you need to take your writing.”

The faculty also saw having the opportunity to get to know the students better as an enormous benefit to Stretch. As Laura says, “I definitely think the program was effective and met the objectives we intended it. I think the best part of it was the students became familiar enough with us that the fears that they associated with writing were lessened and a lot of them felt very confident by the end of the program.” Jen adds that it’s “not just fears about writing but fears about teachers too . . . I was surprised that I didn’t lose any students from this e101 class. Even the ones that struggled this time, they knew me well enough, felt comfortable enough to talk to me when it started to be a problem instead of just disappearing.”

Jen goes on: “I think especially they were comfortable approaching us from the beginning [of the spring semester]. I think that’s part of the reason that at least in the case of my class that everybody made it through the semester was because sometimes by the time things start to get sticky or difficult in the middle of the semester they still haven’t established that relationship with you where they feel like they can be open about what’s happening and why they’re missing class, whereas this time with that extra time I knew them well enough that I could see that they were frazzled or whatever and I would go up to them and say hey, what’s going on, you’re not usually like this. There are a couple of people that in a normal e101 class I’m almost positive would have disappeared, but because we knew each other well enough and I had seen their work over the last semester, when they started not handing in papers I would say this isn’t like you, what’s going on, where in a normal e101 class I wouldn’t have known that that wasn’t like them.”