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NCLCA Newsletter Fall 2022

Happy Holidays! We hope this quarterly newsletter finds you well and preparing for the Holidays in whatever way suits you best. As Fall 2022 comes to a close, we want to  wish each of you a happy, healthy, and restful holiday season. We are grateful for the students, staff, faculty, and administrators who make our learning centers remarkable.

Thank you for a wonderful  year together, and we look forward to enjoying 2023 with you as NCLCA members!

Cheers,

Amy Caton & the NCLCA Publications Team

Events



THE ROLE OF THE LEARNING CENTERS IN CAMPUSWIDE STUDENT SUCCESS EFFORTS

January 12


CREATING A DIGITAL PRESENCE FOR PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT 

February 10



Publications

NEWSLETTER

2023 Submission dates

February 10 April 22

September 16 November 1

Submit Here

The NCLCA Newsletter provides a professional publishing avenue in support of building, growing, and sustaining healthy Learning Centers. Writers are encouraged to write short (500 word or less) articles about the work they are already doing across all types of Learning Centers. 

THE LEARNING CENTER REVIEW

CALL FOR MANUSCRIPTS

January 15, 2023


Guidelines

TLAR aims to publish scholarly articles and reviews that address issues of interest to a broad range of academic professionals. All submissions are subject to a masked, double-blind review process.

CENTER SPOTLIGHT

Renovation leads to more student connections

By Erica Ellard

Author Note: Erica's affiliation has changed since the submission of this article.

Director of Academic Administration and Student Records

Washington University, MO


The Reeg Academic Resource Center held a ribbon-cutting event in October 2021 to officially open the renamed, renovated, and expanded physical space that houses academic resources and supports at Webster University: academic ADA accommodations, academic counseling, academic integrity awareness and education programs, assistive technology, testing, tutoring, and writing. The expansion and renovation concluded in early Fall 2021 with the installment of décor focusing on a study abroad and diversity and inclusion theme.

With the expanded, renovated, and renamed (due to a donation to support the work being completed) space, students – and faculty and staff – have become more engaged and have used services more frequently. These services include a robust menu of one-on-one support options as well as handouts and online resources.

1) Academic ADA Accommodations – Academic ADA Accommodations are available to students with documented disabilities to provide them with access to their educations.

2) Academic Counseling – Academic Counseling is one-on-one support with a Reeg ARC team member that provides the assistance students need when they need it. Conversations often focus on accessing University resources and technologies, goal setting, learning styles, motivation, note taking, self-advocacy, stress relief and management, study skills, test taking, time management and avoiding procrastination, and more.

3) Academic Integrity Awareness and Education Programs – The Reeg ARC promotes Academic Integrity awareness and administers the Academic Integrity Education Program (AIEP).

4) Assistive Technology – Assistive Technology is available for students needing or wanting additional support to access their courses and/or course materials. Many of these technology options are designed for students with documented disabilities, but some technology options are available for all Webster students. Additionally, with Ally at Webster, students have access to even more course materials in alternative formats.

5) Testing Center – The Testing Center is available to proctor course exams and test-out/waiver exams.

6) Tutoring Program – The Tutoring Program offers subject-specific tutoring as well as general academic assistance to students. Additionally, students have access to an online tutoring and writing service, NetTutor, which is available through any WorldClassRoom (Canvas) course shell.

7) Writing Support – Students have three options for writing support. They can work with peer writing coaches in person or via Zoom, submit their papers to the Online Writing Center, or access NetTutor for writing support.

Table 1 documents the comparison of resource and service use between Fall 2020 and Fall 2021.


Table 1

Reeg ARC Resource and Service Use 


Service

Fall 2020

Fall 2021

Academic Counseling

1335 

1467

ADA Support

51

54

Assistive Technology Support 

103

85

Faculty Workshops, Meetings, 

   and Trainings

20

29

Faculty Reached through Workshops,

   Meetings, and Trainings

83

131

Student Workshops 

43

44

Students Reached through Workshops 

374

489

Testing

94

454

Tutoring

1042

1508

Writing

1387

1487



Reimagining academic support: hybrid SI & peer tutoring

By Erika Staiger

Supplemental Instruction Coordinator 

Student Academic Resource Center, University of Central Florida

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the University of Central Florida’s Student Academic Resource Center (SARC), went fully online in March 2020. While this was a challenging time for all, there was one silver lining: in Fall 2020, SI attendance increased 41.93%.

According to survey data, online sessions were more accessible to students. Students could now attend from anywhere, making it easier to balance jobs and classes. However, in Fall 2020, UCF began gradually transitioning back to in-person instruction, with most classes and services returning to in-person instruction in Fall 2021. While our staff was excited for this move, our minds immediately went to the students praising the accessibility of our Zoom services. How would we balance the needs of those students with the direction to return to in-person support?

In Fall 2020, we began offering hybrid SI and peer tutoring sessions as a solution to this issue. Hybrid SI or peer tutoring sessions have a mix of in-person and Zoom attendance, allowing the attendees to choose the modality that works best for them. SI Leaders and tutors connected their personal laptops to a smartboard, which allowed both Zoom and in-person attendees to collaborate on the same screen. While the program began with only a handful of weekly sessions, it was expanded in Fall 2021 to include 29 weekly sessions across 18 subjects. The program reached 1,410 students (duplicated count) during that semester, split between 611 on Zoom and 799 in-person (duplicated count). 

Conducting hybrid sessions came with several challenges, some of which we anticipated, some of which we did not. The first hurdle was securing a suitable location. While our tutoring lab already owned four smartboards, one of which we re-allocated to hybrid sessions, the noise level in the tutoring lab from multiple sessions running at the same time made it difficult for Zoom attendees to hear the discussion. This required us to secure space dedicated to hybrid sessions—which was challenging at a university where space is at a premium. The technology itself also presented a challenge, as it required additional set up time, and occasional troubleshooting.

Additionally, we learned student staff required further training to run hybrid sessions successfully. Early on, we discovered the need for each staff member to practice setting up the technology. Furthermore, we learned additional training was required to help staff facilitate group discussion and activities between two distinct sets of attendees. New staff tended to ignore Zoom attendees in favor of in-person attendees, who were often more active participants. Staff also noted that in-person attendees sometimes grew frustrated when asked to collaborate with Zoom attendees, who would often slow down activities by relying on the chat to communicate.

While hybrid sessions will require further innovation, survey data suggests they do make sessions more accessible to students. In future semesters, we will continue to improve our training, and request additional dedicated space to bring hybrid sessions to more students. 

Introducing the new science learning center

By Patrick Dempsey & Jessica Tiru

Interim Director; Assistant Director

Science Learning Center; Florida Atlantic University

The Center for Learning And Student Success (CLASS) at Florida Atlantic University (FAU) provides a variety of academic support programs to help students achieve academic success and prepare for a future of lifelong learning. We are proud to announce the opening of the Science Learning Center, an inclusive and innovative learning space open to any student enrolled in a science course. Located in the Schmidt Family Complex for Academic and Athletic Excellence, this new venue provides our learning center with an unprecedented level of exposure. Gaining this space on a university campus where space is scarce shows our administration’s commitment to student learning and academic success. Our Science Learning Center is fully staffed with CRLA-certified, peer tutors. If any of our learning center colleagues are in the area, please come tour our space! For now, we are writing to you here to highlight some of the services we are currently offering. 

Organic Chemistry Center

In collaboration with the FAU Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, we’ve created the Organic Chemistry Center to provide comprehensive support for students completing the organic chemistry sequence. This service offers drop-in tutoring and Supplemental Instruction during most of our hours of operation. 

Drop-In & Appointment-Based Group Tutoring 

Our center is designed for self-study, drop-in tutoring, and small group tutoring. These formats provide students with different opportunities for engagement in our space. Our vision is to eventually move to a drop-in model where we are tutoring for all major science courses during all of our operating hours. 

Anatomy & Physiology Learning Lab 

Students often have limited time to interact with the learning materials during their labs. To further support students with laboratory skills and content, we’ve created a dedicated Anatomy & Physiology Learning lab. Our learning lab is stocked with laboratory grade microscopes, high quality anatomy models, and educational technology to enhance the student learning experience.  

Deep Learning Experiences in Virtual Reality 

Our center has virtual reality learning stations to help students engage in deep learning experiences. Whether experiencing mitosis, the human digestive system or a surgical procedure in virtual reality, these experiences help reinforce content covered during our in-person tutoring sessions. Our technology set-up includes large TVs so students and tutors can gather together and watch their peer’s VR experience.  In an effort to make students more comfortable during these extraordinary times, we now have disposable protective covers for all of our VR equipment.

Lifesavers! Bloom's Taxonomy

By Raul Martin IV

Gator Success Center Specialist

Gator Success Center; Lamar State College Orange

In Spring 2022, the academic support departments at Lamar State College Orange piloted Lifesavers!, a workshop and seminar program geared to prepare students with college-level study strategies. Lifesavers! interactive workshops use Kahoot!, a browser-based trivia game; Socratic dialogue; and short activities to create a space for students to interact with academic support staff and build community with peers across disciplines. Summer 2022 provided us a chance to rebrand our workshops and add asynchronous options for students learning online. We hope such additions to an already popular program on our campus will increase participation and interest of students and faculty alike. 

With any student-driven program, testimonials offer some of the most generative information for improvements. Downtime in the summer offered us a chance to review student feedback. Nursing students who attended the Bloom’s Taxonomy presentation last spring semester said, “I think it was well thought out and I appreciate that it was geared towards our profession.” Others praised integrating Kahoot!--a customizable browser-based trivia game that tests students’ application of bloom’s taxonomy–“Loved the interactive game.” Students feedback also suggested they learned how to apply Bloom’s Taxonomy, “The presentation was very informative. I will use it with my studies.” These testimonials reinforced our decision to reimagine Bloom’s Taxonomy.

Brooke Dantzler, Academic Studies Clerk II, created the infographic below to illustrate how students might engage with Bloom’s Taxonomy as a tool for learning. Bloom’s Taxonomy is a great tool for students because it lists and organizes language for learning concrete to abstract concepts. Moreover, students can use it to visualize the mental effort required to go from remembering facts to creating new knowledge, a transferable skill for all courses. 

Students who attend the Lifesavers! presentation on Bloom’s Taxonomy will receive the infographic above as well as the traditional Bloom’s Taxonomy triangle. Because Bloom’s Taxonomy is presented as a new tool for students, the succinct questions listed on the graphic demonstrate how students might frame each layer of the learning process. A few examples include “How would you feel if…?” and “Discuss the pros and cons of…” (McNulty 2022) Lifesavers! presentations on Bloom’s Taxonomy prepares students early in the semester with a learning framework they can use throughout their college education.  Over the Summer, we also created an asynchronous version of the Bloom’s Taxonomy Lifesavers! session for students learning online.  

Our Bloom’s Taxonomy presentation was the first to be transformed into a one-hour self-paced course for our online students. Along with the graphic above, we added explicit learning objectives, reading material, and related activities to guide students through the learning experience. In the past, we measured efficacy with student feedback, but the self-paced courses challenged us to add explicit learning objectives to each of our topics. For instance, the Bloom's Taxonomy learning objectives are identify levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy required for various college assignments and apply Bloom’s Taxonomy to reframe study habits. In addition, we added learning objectives to our in-person and virtual sessions so that our presentations all follow the same pattern of delivery and standard. 

The Lifesavers! program is student-centered by design. With interactive elements like Socratic dialogue, Kahoot! game, and group discussion, Lifesavers! facilitate a fun, collective learning environment to teach study strategies to all students.  Some future implications for this program include student co-presenters, in-class visits, and faculty presentations.  With the addition of new graphic designs, virtual presentations, and asynchronous options, we hope our program appeals and reaches more students on our campus. Over the summer, we have placed Lifesavers! across several modalities and incorporated new tactics into our presentation to make it a memorable, personalized, and engaging experience for our students. 

References

Dantzler, B. A. (2022). Bloom’s taxonomy: a visual that shows the relationship between various layers of the learning process. Lamar State College Orange, Orange, TX, United States. 

McNulty, N. (2022, April 19). Simplify your teaching now, using bloom’s taxonomy question stems. Niall McNulty. https://www.niallmcnulty.com/2021/06/blooms-taxonomy-question-stems/

Academic coaching makes a definitive impact

By Geoff Bailey & Mark Woolwine

Executive Director

REACH Center; University of Louisville

One of the newest initiatives offered by REACH (Resources for Academic Achievement) is our academic coaching program. Similar to other academic coaching programs nationwide, our peer coaches help undergraduate students define clear goals (academic and personal) for themselves, identify practices and resources to help achieve those goals, establish timelines for implementation, model/teach more effective academic skills and behaviors, and provide key referrals to campus services and offices.

During summer 2021, REACH established an important partnership with our Metro College Program, a “joint education-workforce-economic development initiative among the University of Louisville (UofL), Jefferson Community and Technical College (JCTC), Louisville Metro and State of Kentucky governments, and charter employer UPS.” UPS provides Metro College (MC) participants with a tuition-free undergraduate education in exchange for working third-shift at UPS’ airport operations center. 

Based on previous successes with MC students utilizing REACH tutoring, we collectively wanted to address concerns about these students’ unique employment situation, which has a direct impact on sleep patterns, time management, study habits, and other indicators of academic performance and retention. Additionally, this partnership represents a significant expansion of the student populations we serve at UofL. All new first-time MC students (who could be either first-year students or upper-class students) are required to utilize REACH academic coaching either one or three times depending on their prior academic history and their counselors’ recommendations. 

During fall 2021, a total of 345 new MC students were referred for academic coaching. After coaching assignments were made in our EAB platform (coaches show up as part of each student’s “success team”), our peer coaches conducted outreach to schedule appointments and provide critical support to ensure a smooth transition to college and help them balance the unique work schedule with their academic requirements. A total of 167 MC students (48.4%) followed through and met with our coaches. Participants attended between 1-4 appointments based on a combination of their requirements, needs, and motivation. Cumulative GPA analyses show a positive correlation with their participation in academic coaching compared to those students who did not follow through on the coaching expectation. The mean cumulative GPA of attendees was 3.15 (ranging from 2.93 for one appointment to 3.325 for four appointments) compared to only a 2.15 for students who did not attend coaching (Figure 1).

Figure 1. Impact of academic coaching on UofL Metro College students’ cumulative GPAs


Based on this academic impact and the positive feedback received by coaching participants, REACH is now identifying other target populations to establish more formalized partnerships to serve our undergraduate population. This service, in tandem with tutoring, Peer Assisted Learning, Structured Learning Assistance, and academic workshops, is proving to be a vital component of student success efforts at our institution

Practitioner’s Corner

Duke academic guide program

By Debbie Hughes

Senior Academic Guide

Academic Guides Program

Introduced in Fall 2020, the Academic Guides program is an initiative of the Office of Undergraduate Education at Duke University funded through the Duke Endowment.  Members of this team create evidence-based, holistic approaches to student engagement that support students’ academic and emotional well-being while also building resilience. By placing the Academic Guides’ offices in the residence halls on Duke’s West Campus, where all sophomores, juniors and resident seniors live, the program seeks to normalize help seeking beyond the first-year experience. The program also hopes to expand access to available academic services to presumably “established” students.

The idea for this program evolved from the findings of a five-year study of students at four North Carolina universities which identified behaviors that correlated to higher degrees of resilience among undergraduates (https://complexstories.com/client-projects/student-resilience-and-well-being-project/). The Student Resiliency and Well-being Project, as it came to be known, identified four significant indicators of student resilience: academic engagement (distinct from performance or GPA), self-control in pursuit of goals, self-compassion, and the presence of meaningful relationships with peers, faculty, and staff. The findings suggested that students would fare better if guided towards these indicators through a program of whole-student support, as opposed to siloed services, in the spaces where the students live. The Academic Guides would thus work from these spaces with partner offices throughout the university to help students attain these foundations of resilience.

The Guides have become a visible and engaging presence in the West Campus “quads”. They organize conversations with students, faculty, and staff around the challenges we all face as we grow into the best versions of ourselves. Guides have also organized residence hall-based gatherings designed to raise awareness of academic and student support resources,  We have led students on guided wellness walks, offered drop-in academic advising opportunities, and teamed up with colleagues in other offices to raise awareness about nationally competitive scholarships and graduate entrance exams. Through one-on-one consultations, we have collectively advised hundreds of students in the residential communities as they explore how to get the most out of their Duke experience. 

As we move into our fourth semester on campus, we are looking forward to introducing first-year students to their future homes on West Campus, and in so doing, to initiate the QuadEx model of living and learning at Duke. We are also exploring ways of linking our efforts to those of the Faculty Fellows program, which is designed to create opportunities for students to connect with faculty outside of the classroom. To learn more about us and our work, please visit: academicguides.duke.edu.

The academic success plan: personalized web application

By Amanda Shah & Matthew Bungard

Director; Lead Applications Developer

Academic Success Center; Kent State University

Our Academic Success Center previously offered face-to-face “Academic Success Plan (ASP)” meetings to students, providing students the opportunity to sit with a professional staff member to learn about our array of services and then make a decision about which services to use, largely considering a student’s course enrollment that semester.  ASP meetings included approximately 15 minutes of preparatory time for our staff member and then a 30-45 minute meeting with the student.  This cost the department approximately 100 staff hours annually.

With the permanent loss of one professional staff position and students’ use of mobile technology, we partnered with our college’s Technology, Media, and Design team to create an electronic version of the ASP.  The goals were to decrease staff time and increase information accessibility, which was expected to also increase engagement in academic success services.

The technology team created a web application that pulls students’ schedules from Banner each morning, ensuring up-to-date student information.  The academic success team enters and updates the application with course support details.  For instance, General Chemistry I is supported by all types of tutoring and by Supplemental Instruction.  So, when a student who is registered for General Chemistry I logs into the ASP, they will see General Chemistry I under the following service headings:  Scheduled Tutoring, Drop-in Tutoring, eTutoring, and Supplemental  Instruction.  All students, regardless of course registration, will have non course-specific services also listed, including: Academic Coaching, Learning Skills Workshops, and Writing Commons.  Each service in these results is hyperlinked, taking the student directly to the page needed to view schedules or register for an appointment.  Students have the option to email their results to themselves, and academic advisors have access to look up a student’s ASP results in preparation for or during an advising meeting.

Student Utilization

In its first year (2019-20 academic year), 601 students accessed their electronic ASP.  Perhaps as expected, fewer (N=541) accessed the ASP during the 2020-21 academic year during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.  However, in the Fall semester of 2021, 1,046 students accessed their ASP.  Significantly more students are using the electronic version of the ASP than the in-person ASP meetings, through both remote and in-person instructional semesters.

Student Engagement

In the first year of the electronic ASP, the number of students who engaged in our services and the number of total academic support sessions increased from the previous year, even though the final months of that year were our first months of the pandemic and campus closure.  We believe that this was in part due to gateway services, such as the Academic Success Plan.  Specifically, an average of 32% of students who access their ASP will use services within that semester.  We have been working on increasing use of the ASP, but we are also examining how we can increase the engagement rate following the ASP.



From learning outcomes to learning about: changing standard feedback forms 

By Luke Matulewicz

Managing Director

Tutoring Services, Kansas State University

Feedback forms are an essential part of how learning centers understand student needs and learning, but how do we get more engagement and better information?  

Semester after semester, I would stress to tutors the importance of students completing our feedback form. Despite using QR codes, memes, and even free candy to increase completion rates, we never exceeded 30%. The form, which was static and unchanged since 2019, had four blocks of questions that asked about session information, goal setting, learning outcomes, and satisfaction. As the person doing the assessment, I got good data that helped show we met our learning outcomes. Students, however, got a repetitive and boring form that wasn’t useful to them. 

This summer, an idea that changed my perspective was found in the most unexpected place, a church. On the church’s “connection card” (used to gather information about participants), there was a question to mark what best applied to you: first-time, second-time, or regular attendee. By asking that same question with some survey logic, I knew I could ask different and better questions to students by grouping them by those categories. 

Launching this fall, the new feedback form changes every time a tutee completes it. First, the beginning questions and end questions are still the same—session information and satisfaction. In the first block, we added the question from the church, “Please select which applies: 1st-time attendee, 2nd-time attendee, or regular attendee”. 

First-time attendees are asked about how they learned about tutoring, what brought them in, and when they will visit again. Second-time attendees are asked about a learning outcome, how we should promote tutoring to their peers, and if there are other courses we should cover. The regular attendees select a random number one through seven to be given a question to answer, and we’ll switch questions at week 8 of the semester. These questions for regular attendees vary and allow us to ask questions that would usually take a focus group to answer. Questions this semester include “Please share your experiences with scheduling tutoring sessions,” “What element(s) of tutoring do you like the most?,” and “What other learning equipment besides a whiteboard would be beneficial to have access to during a tutoring session?” In the last two weeks of the semester, the questions will return to the four learning outcomes to still gather that crucial assessment data. 

Without responses, it is hard to know if it will be successful, but the tutors and I are hopeful, and we are thankful for a change that will help us more proactively engage our students and give them the opportunity to share more meaningful feedback.  

TUTOR SPOTLIGHT

Sam Showalter

Peer Tutor & Embedded Learning Fellow

By Laura Scroggins

Throughout his three years as a French tutor and, now, Embedded Learning Fellow, Sam Showalter has shown exemplary enthusiasm for his subject area and care for his clients.

At the beginning of this current semester, Sam developed a “special topics section” for drop-in tutoring to help introduce the tutoring center to first-year students. This was a new concept that Sam developed while he was working with faculty members to identify a course topic that would support students’ learning and would be advertised directly to the students by visiting introductory level courses.

First-year students found this session a great way to visit tutoring for the first time because they didn’t have to arrive with their own questions. Instead, they knew there was a plan in place to work with their peers and an experienced tutor. From this, Sam met new students that he has continued to tutor throughout the semester.

Next semester he will be working to offer our first Embedded Learning Forums in French. Embedded Learning Forums ask the tutors to meet weekly with their faculty member and then design a 50 minute forum in which students are given the opportunity to work collaboratively on a targeted piece of the course content. 

In addition to excelling in French tutoring, Sam has recently worked through upper-level Spanish courses earning a faculty recommendation to tutor in Spanish. His successes as a student continue to enrich his work as a peer tutor.  After graduating, Sam plans to teach abroad before pursuing his master’s all in pursuit of making language education more accessible for students. 


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