Tara J Lehan
on June 17 2019 at 7:03 p.m.
At your institution, to what extent do faculty members and students partner with learning assistance professionals, such as academic coaches and librarians, to promote learning and achievement? What do you believe are the benefits and challenges encountered in association with these partnerships?
At my institution, Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, AZ, USA, various initiatives and campus leaders function as connectors to match up faculty with learning assistance professionals. It's not always as systematic as it could be in an ideal world, but having someone that faculty already know and trust endorse such partnerships tends to be pretty effective.
As the director of one of these initiatives, the First Year Learning Initiative, I use my email lists and the personal meetings I have with faculty to play matchmaker whenever I can. One of the other things that helps promote these partnerships is to emphasize how they can address ongoing needs or things that make courses more difficult and less rewarding to teach. For example, if students are coming in without the needed academic skills, letting them know that our Academic Success Centers will custom-design programs to address those skills can be very appealing. They mostly want to know that partnering will result in less work for them, and they do tend to respect the expertise of learning assistance professionals when it comes to aspects of teaching (e.g. universal design, study skills) that faculty know are important but that don't directly tie into faculty members' areas of expertise.
Great discussion topic by the way!
Hi, Michelle (and anyone else who's interested in joining our conversation),
Thank you for your thoughtful response. It's great to hear that there are efforts to build these types of purposeful partnerships at your institution. Although learning center professionals often function in the margins, they are incredibly valuable resources. I'm excited to learn more about the First Year Learning Experience at Northern Arizona University. Is it intended only for undergraduate students, or are there also support services for new graduate students? Have you all found that the type and amount of support for graduate students differs from that of undergraduate students? If so, how and to what extent? I agree wholeheartedly that it's beneficial to create custom programs to help students to fill gaps in knowledge and skill set. Would you be willing to share more about the process of custom designing programs for students with a focus on challenges and successes?
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