March 28th Session: Using SSC (Student Success Center) to its Fullest Potential

Click here to access the audio recording from the session!!

Our second Provisions session of the Spring 2017 semester explored the theme of “Using SSC (Student Success Center) to its Fullest Potential.” Presenters shared experience and expertise with the various topics pertaining to the theme that sought to explore the academic success center and the supports that it provides to students. An audience of approximately 20 faculty and staff members attended to hear presentations from Marcy Nielsen Pendergast, Executive Director of the Academic Success Center, Shirlee Dufort, Director of the Writing Center, and Jess Brouker, Assistant Director of Intercultural Leadership and First-Year Programs.

Marcy Nielsen Pendergast started the session by providing an overview of the Academic Success Center in her presentation, Using Student Success Services to Their Fullest Potential.Marcy discussed how the Academic Success Center has evolved over the years, along with the services it has provided to students. The center is currently located on the second floor of St. Josephs and offers a variety of services, including content tutoring (small group sessions), open lab-drop in, study clusters, math placement support, writing tutors, disability services, and study skills support. Open lab drop in is designed for students to come in for assistance with their business, accounting, math, and science course lab work, which approximately occurs for 15-20 hours per week. Study clusters are offered campus-wide and can be designed at request by students or faculty at any time during the semester. Math placement support is provided by the assistant director, Matt Woods, for those those who need to retake the math placement assessment before acceptance for admission. Disability services provide students with accommodations across campus to ensure academic success. Study skill support assists students individually with mastering effective study skills, with time management being the main skill worked on across students. Students are able to sit down with a tutor to map out their week and study strategies to help accomplish the tasks for the week. Marcy concluded her presentation by discussing a challenge frequently faced by the Academic Support Center–getting students in the psychical space. Marcy explained that the students that are there most often tend to be the ones who are doing well academically.

Shirlee Dufort started her presentation by sharing a quote from Abraham Lincoln about preparing for presentations, as she did for this one.  Shirlee mentioned how studies demonstrate that one of the best ways to learn is to work one on one with someone, and that combined with interactions from the writing center tutors, have shown Shirlee the positive effects the writing center has had on many students on campus. The writing center asks students to come prepared with two copies of their work, to read that work aloud, and make appropriate corrections along the way (edit and proofread). Shirlee shared that reading aloud uses a different part of the brain to stimulate a different perspective of what has been written. Shirlee finds the warm and welcoming atmosphere to be one of the most important aspects of the writing center. One of the most effective components of the writing center is that the student is always in charge of their own paper, as opposed to a tutor taking over the student’s paper. Tutors in the center use reflective listening, as students need to feel heard to be more receptive to the feedback provided. One common misconception of the center is that the tutors are there to correct errors, but instead they are there t0 teach writing skills by teaching concepts for the student to apply. Many English 105 classes bring students in for an overview of the services, which gets the students into the place for the first time and makes them more likely to return. The tutors are trained to work with all types of students and for all ranges of writing, although there are also ESL and ENL tutors for those in need. Shirlee ended by presenting a new initiative where a writing lab is offered on Friday mornings from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm for students to come in and work on a computer while provided with tutors who can help when in need of assistance.

Lastly, Jess Brouker presented on the Academic Opportunity Experience (AOE) program, which contains three counselors who provide resources to those students who are not generally admissible to the college. The program requires the students to complete course before starting at the college and provides opportunities for the counselors to work with them for the duration of thier time at the college. Transcripts are reviewed to decide if they will be admissible, and then those accepted will have an orientation day and an accompanying interview. The first year launch is week long ‘academic bootcamp’ which entails an English class prep course with Shirlee, math class with Matt Woods,  study skills course with Marcy, and group workshop with the AOE counselors. Group workshops help to prepare on how to be a ‘student’ at the college (i.e. where services are located and what are they used for, how to talk to professors, and how to navigate the college website). Each student in the program is paired with one counselor who checks in on a weekly basis. These students are also offered private tutoring through the Academic Success Center. In addition, these students can request standing appointments with the writing center (same time and day each week), are offered pre-advisement sessions, and receive mid semester reports, which take their schedules and send a report to all their professors to help to give the students a ‘heads up’ and see how they are doing.


Please join us for our upcoming April 18th session on “Pedagogy in the ‘Post-Truth’ Era.” Provisions’ sessions are held from 12:00-1:15 in Standish A&B. All are welcome and no reservations are required. Free lunch and refreshments will be available! Hope to see you all there!🙂

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