NCLCA Newsletter Summer 2021
As always, we hope this quarterly newsletter finds you well. We are half way through the "dog days" of Summer and hopefully balancing center adaptations for Fall with vacations and rest. We have so much to look forward to learning from each other and practicing in our centers as we connect through Annual Conference, Webinars, & M3 discussions.
We look forward to learning and networking together at the Annual Conference and publishing your work in the Fall newsletter and TLAR.
Amy Caton & the NCLCA Publications Team
If I could choose one word to remove from the dictionary (and from daily conversation) by the end of 2021, that word would be unprecedented. I don’t want to see, experience, or feel anything ‘unprecedented’ for the foreseeable future! No more ‘’marked departure from previous practice’’ (Roget’s II, 1988)! Nothing that is “…without example”! (Webster’s II, 1984). Give me some precedence! Something tried and true! Anything that has a history of marked success and value that makes us want to return to it, again and again.
That precedent, my friends, is Conference. The 36th Annual NCLCA Conference, ‘Forging Student Success’, 9/28-10/1/21 in Birmingham, AL, to be precise. The precedents set by conference revolve around
I know it will not be easy to get to conference this year. There are so many hoops, and loopholes, and uncertainties to dodge and weave and tackle, both personally and in our institutions. But friends, I encourage you to get here if you are able. We’ll be there, revisiting those precedents listed above, and so many more. We’ll be creating new precedents, too--but that can only happen when we are together and making new experiences which will become traditions.
On behalf of the entire Board, and in particular the ‘Chief Forger’ himself, Vice-President and Conference Chair Michael Frizell, I fervently hope to see many of you in Birmingham in September! Even if you can’t make it this year, know that NCLCA was, is, and will be here for you--the learning center professional—and will continue to support with ideas, opportunities, and collegiality.
Best wishes for a summer with a return to positive precedence!
2020 NCLCA President
FORGING SUCCESSFUL LEARNING CENTERS: CRITICAL CONSIDERATIONS AND EVIDENCE-BASED PRACTICES FOR NEW LEARNING CENTER DIRECTOR
FROM IDEA TO SUBMISSION: PUBLISHING ARTICLES IN NCLCA NEWSLETTERS AND TLAR ARTICLES
WHY WE WILL NOT RETURN TO EXCLUSIVELY FACE-TO-FACE TUTORING POST COVID: IMPROVING STUDENT ENGAGEMENT THROUGH TECHNOLOGY
FORGING SUPPORTIVE PATHWAYS FOR NEURODIVERSE LEARNERS: HOW YOUR LEARNING CENTER CAN CHAMPION THE SUCCESS OF STUDENTS WITH LEARNING DIFFERENCES
FORGING A FOUNDATION OF EQUITY AND EMPATHY: IMPLEMENTING BIAS EDUCATION AND TRAINING FOR YOUR LEARNING CENTER STAFF
FORGING YOUR INDIVIDUAL PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT: GET THAT LEARNING CENTER CERTIFICATION (LCLC) APPLICATION STARTED!
LEARNING CENTER ASSESSMENT: DESIGNING AN EVIDENCE-BASED PLAN AND STRATEGIES THAT DEMONSTRATE THE IMPACT OF SERVICES ON KEY STUDENT SUCCESS METRICS
M3: MONTHLY MEMBERSHIP MEETING
CONGRATULATIONS TO OUR AWARD WINNERS
During a year+ of treading water and staying afloat in our work and personal lives, our members kept right on creating and innovating—and then some of you made the time and mustered the energy to submit an award application. That’s commitment; that’s passion—that’s NCLCA! We are ready to learn, borrow, share, and innovate with our newest award winners sharing their sharpest innovations, newest programs that reach and impact more students, and most engaging and creative projects. Awards will be presented at our Annual Conference!
-NCLCA President, Lindy Coleman
HUNTER BOYLAN RESEARCH SCHOLARSHIP
Dr. Tara Lehan
Northcentral University, CA
PRESIDENT’S OUTSTANDING LEARNING CENTER AWARD FOR SPECIALIZED POPULATIONS
Louisiana State University
INNOVATIVE USE OF TECHNOLOGY AWARD
Texas A&M University Galveston Campus
BRENDA PFAEHLER PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT GRANT
Jacqueline von Spiegel
(Research) Ohio State University, OH
(Leadership) University of Alaska Fairbanks Community and Technical College
WEBSITE EXCELLENCE AWARDS
University of Michigan
Science Learning Center (SLC)
Old Dominion University
Learning Center at Old Dominion University
University of Pittsburgh
FRANK L. CHRIST OUTSTANDING LEARNING CENTER AWARDS
Tallahassee CC (2 year)
Marietta College (4 year)
The Council of Learning Assistance and Developmental Education Associations (CLADEA) is very pleased to announce the 2021 election of three new Fellows!
Emeritus Dean of Education Programs and Learning Support at Schoolcraft College and co-founder of Mindtation
of developmental education and Assistant Dean for Faculty Development
and Strategic Planning of the College of Education at Texas State
Professor Emerita (Department of Animal and Veterinary Sciences) at Clemson University, where she is also past chair of the Emeritus College Advisory Board
A Panel Discussion on the NCLCA Experience
Research & Publication in the Learning Center
with Dr. Russell Hodges
Supporting your Staff
with Dr. P. Brandon Johnson
Please contact Diana Garland about hosting a future podcast: PD@nclca.org
Connect with us on for the newest events, discussions, and opportunities.
Faculty Learning Center Collaboration
By Brian Baez & Michael Corey
Reading & Learning Coordinator; Mathematics & Statistics Coordinator
Center for Academic Success; Florida International University
Collaboration between faculty and learning centers can sometimes be a challenging goal to achieve. Faculty may be consumed with research or may not be aware of how their institution’s learning center can support the instructional aspect of their work. The Center for Academic Success (CfAS) at Florida International University (FIU) has been very fortunate to work with various faculty members and is proud to share how our latest project has benefited both students and faculty.Psychology is currently the largest major for undergraduates at FIU. Upper-division courses like Research Methods I and II require students to have a certain level of proficiency in statistics as well as research, reading, and writing in the social sciences. However, many students who advance to these courses may still not feel comfortable with the most fundamental concepts in these areas. Last summer, CfAS created a series of workshops to support students in these areas. The conversation began with Research Methods Faculty, with the goal of deciding which aspects of the course were the most challenging for their students and how to provide academic support for those challenges.
Relative to developing students’ skills in research, reading, and writing, faculty concerns ranged from students’ familiarity with the most recent edition of the APA publication manual to synthesizing research from various articles. CfAS developed workshops that modeled effective strategies in these areas as well as provided opportunities for students to practice and get feedback from each other. We even included a new online resource called Correct English that serves as a platform to be able to work with our tutors as they work on their papers.
Relative to developing students’ statistical understanding, faculty concerns included not just knowing what the various statistical analyses were, but students’ ability to discern how to apply certain analyses. For example, when is it appropriate to use a one-way ANOVA as opposed to t-tests or z-tests? CfAS created scenarios where students could develop their statistical literacy in these areas and then transfer those concepts to similar word problems. Faculty shared previous research methods projects that served as a template for problem-solving.
Survey data collected from Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 demonstrated students reporting higher confidence levels in the following areas: research, paraphrasing, summarizing, variance, measures of central tendency, measures of dispersion, z-score, and hypothesis testing. The Research Methods Faculty has seen an improvement in their students’ research papers and have discussed the possibility of requiring all their students to attend these workshops that have been tailor-made for their class. This collaboration has paved the way to build more relationships with other departments at our institution.
SSP Retention Specialist; University of Memphis
Student success programs typically offer academic support, mentoring, and even financial aid, but recent events involving the Covid-19 pandemic bring to light that supporting our students might come down to accessing basic needs. A recent survey completed by the University of Memphis* provided important information that reflects the experiences of our students during the Covid-19 pandemic. As service providers whose mission it is to support and facilitate the success of our students, it is important that we have insight to the struggles our students face beyond the classroom. As we strive to help our students succeed academically, we must remain cognizant of those circumstances that cannot be addressed by tutoring or building practical skills. We must also make it part of our mission to provide guidance and connection to resources that address basic needs.
The economics of college was a challenge for individuals and families preceding the pandemic, and it appears that those challenges were exacerbated by COVID-19. The following are some insights provided about students at the U of M. According to the study, 51% of the responding students experienced at least one form of basic needs insecurity, including food insecurity, housing insecurity, or homelessness in the previous year. Almost half had a family member who was sick with COVID-19 (13% reported that a family member or close friend died of COVID), while some were actually sick with COVID-19 themselves.
It was no surprise that many students surveyed exhibited at least moderate anxiety and/or depression and were at a loss coping with the situation(s) they faced. A high percentage of students had problems concentrating on classes while others had problems with the internet or computer access. Moreover, several students experienced employment loss or reduced work hours. Approximately 45% of the students experiencing basic needs insecurity had not heard of emergency aid programs on campus and did not apply for campus supports because they did not know how. For those who did apply for support, 71% found the process stressful. Facing the array of problems they have undergone, we need to ask ourselves: How could we better support our students moving forward?
Both advising and guiding our students to basic needs and learning resources in our campus network will provide students additional support that they need during trying times to help them to earn course credits and complete degrees. To do that, we need to develop bonds within our campus communities. Being part of a campus network that provides students with critical information and support may empower them to secure their own futures. As service providers, we just might need to consider getting down to basics.
Instructional observation is an important professional development tool. Until the education world as we knew it came to a screeching halt and flung us into unchartered territory, the Learning Centers at Rutgers University – New Brunswick followed a multi-step observation process for our learning assistants (LAs). As our services transitioned online, so did our observations to ensure the continued quality of instruction. We adjusted the process by conducting the observations online through joining the LA sessions synchronously or through session recordings while conducting the post-observation meetings live through Zoom.
We completed about one hundred remote LA observations in Spring 2020 and the 2020-2021 Academic Year. The remote observations went a long way in quality assurance of the LAs’ teaching by providing feedback and on-the-job training at a critical time when issues with student engagement were rampant.
We also discovered additional benefits we had not planned on at the time of the transition to online observations. To name a few:
1. Connection: The observations provided a platform for LAs to connect with caring mentors one-on-one during the challenging times of isolation and disconnect.
2. Time and Location Constraints: There are logistical limitations in finding observers who can be on campus for late evening or weekends sessions for in-person observations. Travel time between centers can add up significantly, adding to the time observers need to allocate for the task. Online observations removed these constraints.
3. Flexibility: The observer can choose to conduct the observation through a recording when it fits their schedule instead of having to arrange their schedule around observation times.
4. Recordings Doubling as Training Materials: Session recordings can be used for future training to highlight different aspects of peer-led learning.
5. Less Instructor Anxiety: Observations can be anxiety-inducing for some peer leaders who feel like they need to accommodate the observer. With remote observations, they only need to click the “record” button or have an extra Zoom attendee, both of which are much less conspicuous ways for the observer to accomplish the same goals.
Overall, remote LA observations proved to be a very helpful tool, bringing along unforeseen advantages to our observation/training program. Harvard’s Best Foot Forward Project* revealed that using classroom videos as a common reference point improves observation outcomes for both the instructor and the observer for various reasons.
Looking to the future, we plan on incorporating video assessment tools that enable the observers to leave time-stamped feedback (e.g., Timeline.ly, a free tool), allowing for very specific comments and by multiple observers, if necessary. As long as remote instruction remains a part of the education landscape, I expect remote observations will remain a welcome addition to our training tools as we explore more ways to take advantage of the opportunities they afford us.
Greenberg, M. (2016, February 29). The Benefits of Adding Video to Teacher Evaluations. eSchool News. https://www.eschoolnews.com/2016/02/25/the-benefits-of-adding-video-to-teacher evaluations/.
Colleagues Helping Colleagues:
Building Collaborative Learning Communities
By Dr. Marci Hanks
Director of Academic Success Centers & Writing Centers
Eastern Florida State College
In July 2019, I was hired to unify our Academic Success and Writing Centers at all four campuses. Our furthest campuses are fifty miles apart. We needed to find ways to bring our staff together to learn, to network, and to share best practices, so that we could provide consistent experiences for our students across all campuses. These past two years, our team has worked hard to create platforms for tutors to be able to share their knowledge by building collaborative learning communities.
Our first step was to make sure that all our staff was given consistent training no matter which campus they worked for. We created a two-part training so that we could nationally certify our fifty-six staff members through the National Tutoring Association.
For the first part of the training, we created in-depth professional development modules in Canvas which included many resources, articles, and videos. The discussion boards were very useful for tutors to ask each other questions and to share best practices. This strategy helped to form our networks across campuses.
The second part of the training was held in January 2020—two months before the pandemic. During the in-person training day for all four campuses, tutors gathered, networked, and discussed best practices. We included a variety of topics utilizing the following presentation formats: round table discussions with faculty, case scenario role-plays, and individual and group presentations. Feedback from tutors revealed that they highly valued the in-person training day not only for the content we provided but also for the knowledge gained through discussions and networking with their colleagues. Our staff became one team at this in-person training day – just in time for what was to come.
COVID-19 abruptly stopped in-person professional development. The pandemic made us stretch our creativity by figuring out new ways to create collaborative learning communities. We created the Online Tutor Training and Practice team (OTTP) in MS Teams so our staff could share resources with each other, create and post videos, and learn the new technology by practicing together. Because of the OTTP, in just one week, our tutors learned how to use MS Teams. The very next week, when we began tutoring through MS Teams, students commented that our tutors really knew what they were doing and how wonderful our online tutoring was. We were among the first at our college to transition our services to a virtual world. We shared that knowledge college-wide as we helped create interactive training workshops and paired participants with learning partners.
Now we use MS Teams in the following ways: group chats where tutors ask each other questions and share their knowledge and resources; project collaboration for Writing Workshop Videos and Math and Science Review Webinars; online faculty-led, subject-specific tutoring tips sessions; and tutor-led tutoring tips sessions.
In Spring 2021, we implemented student surveys in MS Teams. Out of 210 student responses, 98% of the students would recommend the ASC to a friend. I credit our success to our collaborative learning communities.
University of Oklahoma
Elise Hodges serves in many roles at the Student Learning Center at the University of Oklahoma. These roles include Peer Learning Assistant, Study Night Coordinator, and Staff Supervisor. Elise has contributed so much to the Student Learning Center and to the students at OU throughout her tenure. She provides academic assistance to students in science courses, coordinates pre-exam study nights for thousands of students, mentors new peer learning assistants, and does all this with a positive and professional attitude.
Elise demonstrates teamwork and collaboration in all her roles. To facilitate the pre-exam study nights, Elise recruits and leads staff during events, and collaborates with faculty to schedule, promote, and plan activities for student participants. Elise also practices teamwork as she co-leads our mentorship program for new staff. With another team member, she organizes meetings, plans activities, and communicates with staff. Together they lead new staff in discussions and activities to foster a sense of community and belonging.
Elise demonstrates outstanding leadership capabilities in all that she does. During weekly sessions, she communicates with staff regarding any issues, addresses performance issues, mediates conflicts, and supports staff in their work. She conducts observations and evaluations of peer learning assistants. She provides recognition for areas of strength and guidance for areas of improvement. Elise also facilitates two to three training sessions each semester utilizing facilitation and presentation skills. Elise recently presented with me at a national conference on the work she has done with the mentorship program, further displaying her presentation skills.
Elise graduated from the University of Oklahoma in May 2021 and will pursue a master's degree in Health & Exercise Science