As OU-C Dean Martin Tuck mentioned in the recent fall semester opening meeting, the state subsidy model for higher education is shifting toward an emphasis on course and program completion. In
However, the center makes an impact on campus that goes beyond measurable, pragmatic terms.
“The Success Center adds to campus life by offering students an opportunity to experience being an intellectual and engaging in those types of conversations,” said center coordinator and English faculty member Debra Nickles. “It can become an important part of their college experience. In terms of retention, those conversations are often what help students feel a special connection to campus and build the spark that keeps them coming back.”
Among outcomes of the center’s work are better and more engaged classroom discussions, which make for a more vibrant learning community on campus.
Mathematician Dennis Ray, who doubles as an adjunct faculty member and math center coordinator, noted, “As a classroom teacher, I see the success center pay off, particularly in terms of students’ participation in class. In addition to higher performance in terms of grades, the students have more confidence and, consequently, are more willing to participate in classroom discussions and ask the really good questions.”
Beyond technical skills, an emphasis of the center is on helping students develop the critical thinking and communication skills that cut across academic areas and will serve them well in their future academic and professional pursuits.
Nickles has a front-row seat to that component of the center.
“We look to stay true to our mission of helping students succeed, and that means working with students so that they become learners who can think analytically and express themselves. As both a faculty member and staff member in the Success Center, I tell my students that I am in a neat position. I get to see writing across the curriculum from a broad perspective,” she said.
The center supports classroom teaching by offering students an opportunity to talk with a fellow student about particular concerns they may not feel comfortable articulating in a larger setting.
“The center and classroom instruction complement each other, especially in terms of providing two learning environments,” Nickles said. “I see students writing across the curriculum and putting their writing skills to use beyond English and communication studies classes. No matter the subject, good writing is important as students learn to express themselves.”
A key to the success of the center is the focus on peer interaction between the tutors and their fellow students.
“Our student tutors are quality individuals who care about their fellow students,” Ray said. “The peer-to-peer approach is particularly effective. The tutors understand the student’s perspective and base of knowledge.”
The student tutors confirm that from their own experience.
“Our job is to help students get on their feet so they can succeed. If not for the success center, many
Greenleaf was a tutor as an undergraduate student at OU-C, and she is now pursuing a master’s degree in clinical counseling at Ohio University.
“We help to fill in the gaps for students,” Greenleaf said. “Faculty members have varying levels of expectations of students and teaching styles. Students can ask questions of us they may not feel comfortable raising in class. If students feel overwhelmed or intimidated, they may leave and wind up dropping out of college.”
Math tutor Ryan Holdren said, “It all comes down to the fact that there actually are students who are tutors. We can go more in-depth with the material than they can in class.”
“We often become more than just a tutor. Rather, we become a mentor to the students we are helping,” Holdren said. “Maybe if the students we help can excel in math, they will have the confidence to do better in other classes.”
The writing center is offering workshops this fall in Quinn Library room 19 on the following topics:
• MLA/APA (Modern Language Association and American Psychological Association) Documentation, 3 p.m. on Oct. 10 and 4 p.m. on Oct. 11
• Avoiding Plagiarism, 3 p.m. on Nov. 12 and 4 p.m. on Nov. 13
Seating is limited to 20 individuals on a first-come basis. The center also offers classroom instruction and in-class writing workshops.
For more information, contact Nickles at email@example.com.