two NIU students

Toolkit to Promote Student Success in Gateway Courses

These resources have been curated to help faculty address the challenges that could be potential barriers to student success in gateway courses (ie: courses that students need to take within a major or are required to complete for general studies requirements).

Also available are compiled student success tips and tools, organized for students to quickly review and access, which you may want to share with your students.

These challenges are multi-faceted and interconnected, so the intention is to provide a variety of potential strategies that may address each challenge.

Sometimes when students struggle academically, the cause is due to being under-prepared in literacy, writing, or study skills. Similar to college readiness, these academic skills and supports can be integrated in gateway courses to help students be more successful in all of their courses.

Class Participation

Literacy and Reading Comprehension


Notetaking and Studying

When students believe they will not be successful, that influences their learning behaviors and often becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. You can help by demonstrating your own belief in their abilities, building their self-efficacy, and providing appropriate supports to help them achieve more than they believed possible.

First generation students have diverse, intersecting identities. How can we make our teaching and support services more inclusive and draw upon the assets that diverse learners bring to education? There is a two-fold approach to working with all new students: (1) help to decode college and (2) create a more inclusive learning environment through pedagogy.

General Information

Student Success Strategies

Instructional Strategies

NIU Resources for Students

NIU Resources for Faculty / Staff

It is tempting to view students who miss assignments as lazy or irresponsible, but the reality may be more complex than that. Students may not turn in assignments because they lack the time and need to prioritize other assignments or responsibilities, they may find the assignment unengaging, or they may think that they won’t be successful. When students do fall behind, catching up may be overwhelming or impossible due to late work and make-up work policies.

Motivating Students

Rethinking Late Work Policies

Ideally, exams measure what students have learned, but they often measure how well students are able to study and manage stress or anxiety, instead. Rethinking assessment strategies and test questions can help students be more successful, but you can also help students prepare more effectively through metacognitive support.

Assessment Strategies

Helping Students Prepare for Exams

Attendance and active participation are essential elements in learning. Students can be more successful when they know what good participation looks like, when they can see a benefit to participating, and when the classroom culture promotes risk-taking.

Simply reaching students can be challenging, at times, if the only tool at our disposal is email. How you use email can increase their responsiveness, and there are alternatives to email you can consider.

Students’ lives are increasingly complex. Providing non-academic support for mental health, wellness, and finances, as well as helping them to connect with support networks, can help them be more academically successful.

Additional Information or Resources

Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning staff are available for consultations on strategies for teaching and student success and can be reached at 815-753-0595 or

Contact Us

Center for Innovative
Teaching and Learning

Phone: 815-753-0595

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