CLCA Newsletter Spring 2023
Regular registration will be available until Friday, July 14th, 2023.
Late registration will begin July 15th, 2023 and close on September 22, 2023.
We are excited to connect with our membership!
Building Accessible Scaffolds in Learning Centers
Friday June 23
2023 Submission dates
September 8 November 1
The ICLCA 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.
CALL FOR MANUSCRIPTS
June 15, 2023
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.
Reconstruction of the Learning Assistant Room
By Kazuhiro Kabeya
Director of International Relations Committee-The Japan Association for Developmental Education
Professor-Liberal Arts Education Center
CRLA Japan Chapter President
Osaka University of Health and Sport Sciences Learning Assistance Room; Osaka University of Health and Sport Sciences
Most of the reconstruction of the Learning Assistance Room at Osaka University of Health and Sport Sciences (OUHS) has been completed. This reconstruction was initiated by two factors. One was the spread of COVID-19. Due to the impact of this infection, except for classes in practical skills, lessons were held online. Use of the Learning Assistance Room was thus limited, which made it difficult for students needing developmental education to receive learning assistance. Therefore, it became necessary to review the way learning assistance was provided as well as the operation of the Learning Assistance Room.
The second factor was the appointment of a new university president last year. A fellow faculty member, who serves as the director of the Learning Assistance Room and the director of the Liberal Arts Education Center, proposed the conversion of the disused computer rooms, which are connected by a corridor, into a Learning Assistance Room with a learning commons. The reconstruction was approved by the new president.
OUHS is a university specializing in sports science and teacher training for middle and high school PE teachers as well as elementary school teachers, and all students are, or have experience of being, student athletes. The Learning Assistance Room at OUHS is staffed with personnel and professional tutors who provide learning assistance to students.
While the director of the Learning Assistance Room usually decides on operation policy, I was asked to participate in this reconstruction. This was because I had received NCLCA Level 3 Learning Center Leadership Certification during the previous academic year, and had conducted a visiting survey of learning centers at universities and community colleges in the United States together with the director of the Liberal Arts Education Center and the Learning Assistance Room.
The main features of this reconstruction are (1) the addition of a learning commons with a lecture room, with the available space increased by about 6 times, (2) thorough supervision by the university Sports Bureau of students who must receive learning assistance in accordance with the guidance of UNIVAS (Japan Association for University Athletics and Sport: Japanese version of NCAA), which was established by the Japan Sports Agency, (3) reflection of knowledge obtained from the aforementioned visiting survey of learning centers at universities and community colleges in the United States in handouts and in the system for requesting tutoring, and (4) a focus on the development of peer tutors, such as by creating peer tutor training materials and introducing online programs for peer tutor training that were created in cooperation with researchers at other universities who received research grants from the government.
While the renovation of the lecture room will not be completed until later this year, as COVID-19 restrictions are eased and new students arrive on campus, the new start seems to be going smoothly.
ART: Art, Renovations, and Technology-inclusive Science Learning Center
By Joe Salvatore
Director of Science Learning Center
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
When your learning center unveils inclusive art and a $250,000 renovation, it’s time to celebrate! On October 21st, 2022, the Science Learning Center (SLC) at the University of Michigan - Ann Arbor (UM) hosted an open house to celebrate extensive renovations and the culmination of a two-year art collaboration titled Interconnected: An SLC Pixel Project. Doug Jones, a local artist and UM alum, spearheaded the project, working with students and staff to create art using his signature PIXEL technique and collaborative design process.
Following a series of discovery sessions to identify four art concepts, Jones joined with student and staff co-creators to paint over tiny printed pixels using Q-tips and paint. He then transferred this work to large aluminum panels and applied an automotive top coat, resulting in unique and compelling images. Jone’s introduction to the project was posted alongside one of the art pieces along with a reaction statement and short descriptions of each work by SLC alum and public health graduate student Felicia Zhang.
In addition to Jone’s art, the SLC underwent extensive renovations to make the space more welcoming, inclusive, and accessible. Behind the scenes, updated electrical wiring and new power outlets replaced power strips with long cords that posed tripping hazards and accessibility barriers. The new electrical system incorporated Steelcase’s Thread technology, an ultra thin design that runs under the floor and connects to moveable power posts.
Multiple large digital displays, one with the graduate student instructor (GSI) office hour schedule and another with important announcements, were added to the main study area along with larger, more colorful signage to direct visitors. The SLC is also finalizing design plans for a new front desk that will provide flexiible height seating for better accessibility.
Brighter and more climate-friendly LED fixtures and bulbs replaced old fluorescent lighting, and skimcoated support beams and ceiling areas were painted a warm haint blue to get Michigan students through the dark winter days. The SLC upgraded all of its computers, but reduced desktop machines from 80 to 26 as more students now use personal laptops. New lighter and modern style computer tables with privacy screens also replaced the original heavy metal tables.
The computer reduction allowed the SLC to create flexible study spaces with comfortable study and lounge furniture. The outdated computer classroom was transformed into a new Flex Space reservable for both in-person and remote study groups, tutoring sessions, GSI office hours, and meetings. The new space was fitted with new furniture and technology, including wheeled foldable tables and stackable chairs, and a large digital display with a computer, wireless connections and video conferencing capabilities.
In the eight alcoves used for GSI office hours and study groups, the SLC expanded the number and size of white boards (critical for drawing large complex formulas and reactions) and installed in-table electrical outlets. Two alcoves received large digital displays with wireless connections to enhance discussion of lecture materials and provide access to supplemental learning materials such as videos and diagrams.
Together the renovations and new artwork have transformed the SLC into a more welcoming, inclusive, and supportive space for students, faculty and staff.
A Second Chance with Embedded Tutoring
By John Chapin, David Kelly, & Amr Kadry
Director of Academic and Faculty Support, Coordinator Writing Services, & Coordinator of Tutoring & Coaching
RLB Library Academic Success Programs, University of Baltimore
Picture a Zoom meeting with two webcam frames: one is a tutor and the other is an entire class bunched together on a single screen. The tutor provides prompts and asks questions. The students read their essays aloud or try to better understand an accounting concept. (One additional fact: the students are all adult men, well above the tutor’s age.) Discussion is robust because time is short. (Another fact: the whole class is always on a single frame because the students are serving sentences in the state correctional institution.) These students are unusually engaged; no dog ever eats their homework.
The University of Baltimore’s Academic Success Programs are in the sixth year of providing academic support for Second Chance, a federally funded program that provides a pathway to a bachelor’s degree for incarcerated students with Pell Grants and onsite courses. When these students are released, they continue their studies in their major at our central Baltimore campus. While faculty teach inside the facility, tutors engage remotely.
We use an “embedded tutoring” model, both in Second Chance and at our main campus, which borrows heavily from supplemental instruction but adapts to our institutional context. Tutors are paired for the semester with a course, working closely with the faculty to articulate support needs for challenging content.
One of our ongoing collaborations is writing support for our upper-division mandatory composition course. Paired embedded tutors host recurring group study hall meetings via Zoom to support students in developing their confidence and agency in the writing process, promoting disciplinary ways of knowing, and building recursive writing and revision strategies. Additionally, we provide embedded tutors for target courses such accounting, biology, and computer programming. Tutors create thorough study notes or other digital resources, along with creative exercises and activities that can be shared with the students through a secured SharePoint folder.
Students go beyond the course content, asking their peer tutors about applying technology and computer programming to their entrepreneurial goals. The writing tutors bring poetry to the prison, and students share and support each other freely. There is no opportunity for private one-on-one sessions, which might cause concern in a traditional course. Here, however, there develops a strong sense of classroom community, because all tutoring and learning is done in a group setting - and always with supervision. Second Chance embedded tutors embody our university’s mission of putting student knowledge to work.
A The Evolution of Peer Academic Coaching Despite the Pandemic
By Morgan Robinson
Academic Coaching Coordinator; Kent State University
Kent State’s Academic Success Center (ASC) has always had a commitment to student success and achievement. The strategies to supporting students have evolved overtime and, more recently, we have had to majorly adjust, thanks to the global pandemic. Historically, the ASC has provided Tutoring, Supplemental Instruction, and Academic Coaching for our undergraduate students. Within the last 3 years, the Academic Coaching program has experienced the most significant changes and growth. We launched a new model of the program in 2020, which offered both challenges and opportunities, from accommodating virtual and in-person needs, to scaling the program to serve the entire campus community.
Before the Fall of 2020, the Academic Coaching program served specific students who were struggling academically. The coaches were graduate student interns, the program supported a caseload of 30 students or less, and coaches taught 8 learning skills: Time Management, Attention & Concentration, Note Taking, Successive Relearning, Deep Learning, Test Taking, Resilience & Grit, and Growth Mindset. The program was backed by data and proved to support students in achieving academic success. Because of the positive impact Academic Coaching was making, the program was tasked with increasing access to serve all undergraduate students and shift to a peer model – Peer Academic Coaching.
The Peer Academic Coaching program launched in the Fall 2020 semester, while many students were attending virtually, and the campus was mostly remote. For the 2020 – 2021 academic year, all coaching sessions were conducted online, and all materials were electronic. In the Fall of 2021, we returned in-person and Peer Academic Coaching had to adapt to providing face-to-face sessions and virtual sessions to meet the needs of all students. Because the first year of Peer Academic Coaching was conducted virtually, not many students on campus knew our service existed, which presented an additional challenge. Our problem was not figuring out how to shift an in-person service to be conducted virtually; the program started in a virtual space. We faced the dilemma of having one service working to meet a variety of student needs while honoring our commitment to access. We were able to create the Peer Academic Coaching program to meet as many students’ needs as possible, and I want to share what our program looks like today as we are continuing to evolve.
Since we had to adjust to serving a larger number of students, it was important to have an assessment to rely on to evaluate where students were at in relation to learning and study practices. The Peer Academic Coaching program uses a locally developed Learning Skills Inventory (LSI), a self-reporting tool, which was developed based on Sriram’s (2014) recommendations for instrument development in practice (Shah, 2022, p. 55).
In 2022, the LSI instrument was validated and after the validation process, we added and removed some learning skills for the program. Currently we teach the following 9 skills: Time Management, Attention & Concentration, Note Taking, Successive Relearning, Deep Learning, Test Taking, Resilience & Grit, Reading Comprehension, and Project Management. The LSI takes away the pressure from our peer coaches to assess what each student needs all on their own, as they are seeing an increase of more and more students.
For each learning skill, peer coaches are provided with a session plan and session PowerPoint to follow. They can then personalize the coaching experience based on the student’s LSI results and after conducting a ‘Get to Know You’ conversation. Each session consists of students learning a skill and completing an activity to learn how to implement the skill into their personal study practices. In the shift from virtual to in-person, we have created a resource library that has both electronic and hard copy resources. Students and coaches can choose the format of the activity (electronic or paper) to meet their preferences. This flexibility allows for sessions to easily be conducted in-person or online and for accommodations to be made without issue.
Moving forward, we plan to continue to assess the Peer Academic Coaching program and make improvements as needed. We want to build the program to be accessible to anyone, and to support students in their academic success, whatever that means to them. Some of the success of the program we saw in the Fall 2022 semester were students who consistently participated in coaching (4+ sessions), persisted to the Spring semester at a higher rate (6%) than those in a matched sample. We also saw higher average GPAs for students who attended 4 or more sessions.
All in all, we found some positive through the pandemic. While it was difficult, the pandemic allowed Academic Coaching to develop in a way it may not have been able to without it. We were able to create new systems and be innovative with our approach because the peer model of coaching had never been done before. We gave ourselves permission to try new things and take risks, even if they may not work. Regardless of the outcome, we still were able to learn from our experiences.
Shah, A. (2022). Taking inventory: Validation of a learning skills inventory in higher education. [Doctoral dissertation, Kent State University]. OhioLINK Electronic Theses and Dissertations Center. http://rave.ohiolink.edu/etdc/view?acc_num=kent1663240000341802
Sriram, R. (2014). Five things not to do in developing surveys for assessment in student affairs. [NASPA Research and Policy Institute Issue Brief]. Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education.
Retention Specialist; University of Memphis
I have previously written about campus infrastructures working together to provide students with the best possible support and assistance to secure their degrees (Wiatr, 2021). Those of us in Learning Support encounter students who are seeking assistance to address academic needs. Recent surveys of college students at both my university and a broader study that surveyed over 4,000 students have discovered that students lack knowledge of resources for assistance. What can we do from the base of learning support to help students persist and develop the resilience that they need to complete their degrees?
Defining the problem is the place to start. Last year the University of Memphis surveyed students on the impact of COVID revealing that the biggest challenge to loss of learning was ability to access the resources available in the learning community. Among needed resources was mental health support. This result mirrored the larger study of over 4700 students conducted by Montclair State University (Portillo, Warner, Jeglie, Feb 2022). So, what does this have to do with learning support? Learning Support Centers can be that personal connection that students need to connect them with assistance needed in the moment. Students might come to us for skills building or academic support but for the assistance to be properly utilized, we need to help them organize their bigger picture. So where do we go from here?
The first big step to take: listen to your students and let them talk. For example, an engineering student came to me for tutoring support for a math class after her reflections I found out the real problem lay with a previous course for which a grade change had not occurred. She had taken the proper steps, but it took my contact with the professor and registrar to see that paperwork got into the right hands. Once the grade change was made her current class became very doable. Students might come in frantic about completing a paper and as you send them to the Writing Center, they divulge that they are really struggling with anxiety that has created a block to get work done in general. We are not trained therapists.
However, we can make connections with counseling and send students to people that can help. It’s worth the trip to Counseling if that student receives the necessary support to move forward. We need to know the resources available on campus to best facilitate our students’ success. Pulling together a directory of people and places that can directly affect the welfare of our students can be created within a Learning Center. Once done it is handy for all to use. Ericksen, (May 2022) identified factors that influence college persistence including consistency in student experiences, meeting students where they are, providing access to simple but effective tools of support, and a sense of belonging. Can our Learning Centers be that influence on persistence?
Learning Support Centers are places students depend on to get help. We can help by reaching beyond skills development and academic support by assisting students to find functional solutions to problems. When we hear a student out and make suggestions providing links to other services, we aid in addressing their challenges. If we can provide a name or walk a student to another office that has a solution, we offer simple but effective ways to facilitate persistence. Helping with the big picture, encourages development of practical skills students need. Within the Learning Center culture, aren’t we mandated to build the skills students need to succeed?
The impact our Learning Centers have on helping students develop the resilience and persistence needed to complete a degree is something that we need to nurture. Reaching out to campus services can lead to significant benefits. Helping students connect to the right resources is bound to aid students achieve degrees. Learning Centers are tasked with facilitating success. As noted by Ericksen, (May 2022), although success is in the hands of the students, there are many things that colleges can do to help students achieve their goals. Connecting students to resources and clarifying their big picture are critical for them to attain degrees and Learning Centers can be the facilitator of success.
Ericksen, K. (2022). 8 Overlooked factors affecting student persistence and retention. Retrieved from https://collegeiseducation.com/news/programs-and-course-cpmtent/student-persistence-and retention
Reyes-Portillo, J., Warner, C., Jeglic, E. (2022). The psychological, academic, and economic impact of COVID-19 on college students in the epicenter of the pandemic. SSEA, v 10, issue 2. https://doi.org/10/1177/21676968211066657
Wiatr, J. (2021). Supporting our students can come down to basic needs. NCLCA Summer Newsletter.
Missouri Affiliate Moving to a Regional Affiliate
The Missouri Affiliate is working to moving to a regional affiliate to include: Arkansas, Illinois, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma. We invite all to attend our annual conference at Ozarks Technical Community College in Springfield, Missouri Thursday, June 22, 2023. 10 AM to 2 PM.
Registration is now open: https://nclca.wildapricot.org/MoCLCA
Contact DianaGarland@MissouriState.edu for more Information
NYCLSA Annual Symposium 2023
This year's in-person symposium was a rousing success, thanks to co-presidents Jane Neuburger and Nichole LaGrow and conference committee: Samantha Trumble, Joshua Louis, Karin Killough, Sharon Green & Mich Sojda. We hosted members, new and returning, from all across New York. It was good to see everyone in person again to talk about the meaningful work we do with students.
Our keynote speaker this year was Dr. Saundra McGuire, Director Emerita of the Center for Academic Success and a retired Professor of Chemistry at Louisiana State University. Dr. McGuire is the author of several books on learning for learners, including Teach Yourself How to Learn. She shared her extremely effective student-focused strategies for teaching metacognitive learning strategies in two sessions at the conference.
Dr. Geoff Bailey, marketing officer of NCLCA, discussed the ways in which REACH at the University of Louisville collects and shares data to tell the story of their impact on student success.
HCLCA expands membership, provides learning center professional development events
Bowling Green, Ohio (April 28, 2023)— The Heartland College Learning Center Association, a newly rebranded regional affiliate of the National College Learning Center Association, has expanded its membership beyond Ohio’s borders to include learning center professionals from Kentucky.
This expansion is the result of an effort by the HCLCA’s board to offer regional professional development and networking opportunities to people working in colleges and universities in Kentucky and other states bordering Ohio. The former Ohio College Learning Center Association has been serving learning center professionals in the Buckeye state since 2017.
As the organization launches its new name, board members are also working to develop and promote the HCLCA’s hallmark programs and to revamp a mentorship initiative.
The HCLCA annual conference will be held May 23-24, 2023, at Bowling Green State University, in which conference presenters will take up the theme, “Building Student Engagement.”
Those who register for the conference will receive a yearly membership with their conference registration fee. Information about the conference schedule, registration, and lodging can be found at the HCLCA website.
HCLCA members also have access to monthly online meetings, Timely Topic Thursdays (T3), which allow members the opportunity to present, lead discussions, and learn from one another. Recent topics include training peer tutors and academic coaches in motivational interviewing techniques, supporting students on academic probation, and applying metacognitive reading strategies. Members can propose a T3 topic using a form available on the HCLCA website.
A previous professional mentoring program for HCLCA members is being retooled as a collaborative group initiative and will be launched at the organization’s conference in May. Members will be able to sign up for monthly virtual groups that will allow them to network with professionals with similar interests and to work together on meeting professional and learning center goals.
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more Information