Our Mission, Our Passion: The transformation of the student experience.

students-studying

The Learning Centers exist to advance student learning through innovative services and transformed teaching practices that promote student engagement, active and collaborative learning, and faculty collaboration with the ultimate goal of preparing students for their future professions.

In the past year, the Learning Centers have engaged in a re-envisioning and reorganizing process to build on the success of our current programs, venture into new areas of academic support, and create collaborations with faculty and staff that will support the University's goal of transforming the student experience.

The Importance of Faculty and Staff Referrals

In Fall 2014 alone, more than 6,500 students visited our centers, and we provided over eighty workshops to student groups, partnering programs, and various classes. We also provided in-class support in 55 sections of recitations, labs, and lectures through the Learning Assistant Program. According to our most current survey, the majority of students who utilized our services were referred by an instructor, were directed to our centers by information provided through course materials, or were referred through a program or organization with which they are affiliated. We are very appreciative of the time that faculty and staff have taken to direct students to the support services we offer; it gives us the opportunity to provide additional resources to students and continue to build on the work that you are doing in your courses and programs.

Growth of Programs and NSF Grant

As we continue to support the transformation of the student experience and reimagine the possibilities of academic support on our campus, we will continue to build on the successes of our core programs of Peer-led Group Tutoring, Academic Coaching, Writing Coaching, and the Learning Assistant Program. Within the past three years, we have seen significant growth in all of these programs and have built upon them to create new opportunities for students’ professional development and academic growth. We have established the Peer Leader Training Program, which offers professional development and training opportunities to all academic peer leaders on campus. We have also secured NSF grant funding to create the Preparation in STEM Leadership (PSL) Program, which is informed by the success of our Learning Assistant Program.  Applications for the first cohort of peer leaders in the PSL Program will be accepted this spring semester.

Livingston Learning Center Renovation

In addition to expanding our programs, we are redesigning the Livingston Learning Center to create a student-driven space for creativity, collaboration, and active learning. This project will support our larger objective of creating spaces on campus for students to actively engage in academic discourse and to work collaboratively with one another and their instructors. Faculty and staff are welcomed to reserve the meeting rooms or collaborative workspaces we have available in all centers, and we encourage our colleagues in all departments to hold office hours, provide review sessions and academic programming, and meet with students in the Learning Centers. Sharing our space is an effective way to introduce students to the support services available and meet with them in a comfortable and collaborative environment.

How Can We Collaborate?

The Learning Centers have been building successful collaborations across many academic departments and we plan to continue developing partnerships with faculty and staff that will lead to enhanced academic support and new, innovative programs. We offer office hours for various instructors and TAs, and tutoring for any course requested by an instructor. In addition, our Academic Coaching and Writing Coaching Programs have partnered with courses such as General Biology to design materials specific to the course content and assignments. The Learning Assistant Program places students in recitations, labs, lectures, and study groups, and we plan to partner with the following courses in the upcoming academic year:

Astronomy and Cosmology

General Chemistry for Engineers

Introductory Biochemistry

The Greenhouse Effect

Chemical Engineering Analysis I/II

General Microbiology

Extended Analytical Physics I

Thermodynamics

Introduction to Philosophy

Analytical Physics for Engineers I/II

Design Separations Proc.

Introduction to Logic

Physics for the Sciences I/II

Engineering Probability

 

We have also expanded our services to increase collaboration across academic departments and support programs. One example of a newly formed partnership is our work with the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP). This program just renewed their grant for Phase II of the LSAMP program, which will involve collaborating with us to offer additional support to their students. While we have always worked closely with LSAMP, we are taking our collaboration to the next level by providing additional tutoring that will be staffed by LSAMP students who are trained and supervised by the Learning Centers, piloting two new programs to support students' preparation for research positions and graduate school, and offering academic coaching from a coach who is trained specifically in STEM study strategies. This partnership is just one example of how these collaborations can lead to improved use of resources and ultimately enhance the student experience by creating broad networks of support to connect students to the services and resources they need.

As we continue to assess, refine, and develop our services, we hope that you will partner with us to create the resources necessary for your students to succeed. We look forward to new partnerships that will help us to better identify and address student needs, and we encourage you to bring your ideas to us. We are always looking for new ways to support students and to more closely connect our services to course outcomes and to the many support services that promote student engagement and success across the New Brunswick campus.

The following are some examples of how faculty and staff can collaborate with the Learning Centers:

  • Hold office hours in the centers
  • Recruit students as tutors
  • Place course materials on reserve so students can borrow them while studying or working with a tutor
  • Provide content-area training and course resources to our peer leaders
  • Partner with the Learning Assistant Program to facilitate active learning and engage students in lectures, recitations, and labs or to provide additional support through study groups or online discussion forums
  • Work with an academic coach to develop a an interactive workshop for students related to specific course content or discipline-specific skills
  • Invite a writing coach or academic coach to run a workshop during class time or for a program event (This can be a good alternative to cancelling classes on days when an instructor has to be absent.)

For more information about our programs, please visit our website, complete a request form, or contact Stacey Blackwell. We look forward to working with you to support your students’ success.