One Stop Shopping – A Pathway to Student Success, Access, and Equity

Haglund.KimberlyEditor’s note: As part of an ongoing discussion about writing centers and learning centers, I’m excited to hear from Kim Haglund, who has worked at College of the Canyons for 15 years. Kim currently serves as a coordinator in The Learning Center, particularly serving the Writing Center needs.  

In the 1970’s, the Tutoring, Learning, and Computing Center (now The Learning Center, or TLC) at College of the Canyons opened its doors as an all-inclusive Learning Center. We have never had separate locations by subject area and have always shared space together. I coordinate the Writing Center portion which includes Writing in the Disciplines, Supplemental Learning, an Online Writing Lab and tutoring, and tutoring for Humanities, Social Sciences, and Modern Languages, while my counterpart coordinates Math, Science, and Engineering needs for our student populations. We have found that the open floor plan, extended operating hours, and inclusion of all subject areas has led to a “one stop” shopping model whereby students can sign in and out of areas in order to receive tutoring for any class they may be in, all in one location, which data reveals lead to recognition, metacognition, and replication of skills imparted to our students to meet our Mission Statement and SLOs. We have also found that students spend extended periods of time in The Learning Center, often switching from projects or classes, or group collaborations without having to travel across campus, and this accessibility is also part of equity for all students, illustrating the fluidity of one location and synthesis among courses.  Students find it convenient, which leads to higher attendance, success, and retention as our data also reflects. Furthermore, Institutional Development Surveys have demonstrated both faculty and students find the location and the walk-in only paradigm the highest ranked of all our services.

Benefits

There are several benefits for students, faculty, and staff to having the Writing Center housed within The Learning Center. Financially, we have one overall budget which we internally delegate based on attendance and need; however, campus-wide, we are not in competition for limited funds with boutique programs or other tutoring activities, and the lack of redundancy in offerings brings students to The Learning Center, with the exception of the grant-funded MESA Lab and specialized DSPS program (though we share tutors, training, and students with both). The coordinators and staff all have the same goal: To increase student success and retention and assist them with educational goals while promoting independent learning.

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Fee-Driven Centers

Editor’s note: I was very intrigued by a recent WCenter listserv discussion about writing centers that are funded by student fees. It’s an interesting counterpoint to recent posts on here (“A Story of Volunteers,” “Volunteer Tutors,” etc) about volunteer-driven tutoring. I asked a few directors and coordinators to share their experiences; three responses are below:

JEFFEAGANJEFF EAGAN, California State University

The funding model and institutional organization for academic support at California State University, Bakersfield has changed over the course of my tenure from writing tutor to coordinator for all tutoring on campus. In 2008, the tutoring for all subjects (including writing) was centered in one location on campus and was funded through a Title V grant. After a couple years, NSME tutoring moved from our location and was primarily funded through various grants. In 2011, our campus decentralized tutoring, and each school housed a specific tutoring center(s) in various locations around campus. The thinking behind this was to offer hubs in each school wherein advising and tutoring were available for students belonging to each school; the campus also had a one-stop academic advising center for undeclared students. Our writing center, the Writing Resource Center (WRC) remained in the same location. During this time, I was a first year graduate student working in the writing center as lead tutor.

athletes1As the grant ran out, administration, staff, and faculty started exploring ways to keep the academic support funded, and they decided to assess a student fee to fund the academic support including some support to advising centers. On our campus, all proposals for new student fees must go through a fee committee made up of students. The proposal for the student fee (a portion of the fee funds the writing center and another portion funds the content-driven disciplines) was put forward and approved by the committee and then the president. The fee is assessed quarterly and is used to fund the writing center and other campus tutoring centers. As with any campus, we always aim to engage students through outreach efforts about the resources available to them and the benefits of individualized and group tutoring. During class visits, we are transparent with students about what resources are available to them (academic and non-academic) through their student fees and encourage them to utilize the writing and tutoring centers. I am interested to see how this funding model will hold as we increase our presence and usage on campus.

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WLN News Round-Up: February 1-14

Here’s some of what has been on the WLN news radar this week:

Small changes can improve teaching (and tutoring!). James M. Lang offers three activities for boosting engagement in the first few minutes of class. These strategies—such as asking what they already know about a subject—can be useful to tutors as well. With many institutions starting up a new semester, now can be a great time to re-examine teaching and tutoring practices! [The Chronicle of Higher Education]

A new book advocates creating a more individualized higher education experience. This article explores the ideas in Todd Rose’s The End of Average: How to Succeed in a World that Values Sameness. In terms of colleges and universities, Rose advocates for less focus on grades and “seat hours” and more student agency. [Times Higher Education]

Teaching and writing for the ear. Like many writing center professionals, Dr. Stuart Sherman believes in the connection between good writing and reading out loud. Complete with sample feedback, this article walks readers through Sherman’s approach to teaching writing, which relies heavily on students writing for the ear. [PC Mag]

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Special Announcement: Introducing WcORD of the Day! This Facebook page, curated by Patrick Hargon, shares daily posts from WcORD, a searchable database of writing center resources. WcORD invites all members of the writing center community to add their own resources and share the database on their websites and social media outlets!

 

Call for Participation – Global Writing Centers Course

Colleagues,

I am teaching a graduate/advanced undergraduate course at DePaul University (Chicago) beginning in late March that will focus on writing centers and writing programs WORLDWIDE.  As one of our projects, I’d like my students, who are themselves writing tutors in our writing center here at DePaul, to forge connections with others doing similar work (working with students and their writing, working within WID programs of any variety—in English and in the home languages) to exchange ideas about approaches, practices, challenges, and issues.   This communication/collaboration/participation would be done on an informal basis, using asynchronous or synchronous conferencing (email, Skype, etc.).

Right now, course planning is a work-in-progress.  If any of you are interested, I would love to hear from you.

Darsie Bowden
dbowden@depaul.edu