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Academic Support Center services for the Core courses
Are there students in your Core courses who seem to be struggling? Do you think they might benefit from additional assistance either inside or outside the classroom? The Academic Support Center might be able to help! It offers “peer-driven, cooperative learning” where student learning assistants work with you and mentor your students (working with small groups or one-on-one) to help them master the course content.
What assistance is available?
Supplemental Instruction provides structured study times with a group leader who has successfully completed the course. Check the web page to see a comparison of final grade averages for S.I. students v. non-S.I. students!
In-Class Tutorial Support places learning assistants right in the classroom to give students an extra level of support. The web page lists courses that use the service.
Cyber-Tutoring for Commuters and Online Learners provides writing tutoring in the online environment instead of face-to-face.
The primary focus of the Center is 100 and 200 level courses. However, a couple of your colleagues teaching GENED390 (World of Ideas) also use these services, and have good things to say:
Crista Lebens said, “I think having the writing mentor in class increased their awareness of writing as a skill that can be improved in this course.” After using an in-class Writing Mentor in a section of World of Ideas, she received several comments from students saying they thought their writing skills had improved. Last semester several of her students also took advantage of cyber-tutoring–students who would not otherwise have gotten assistance writing. She said, “Any time students take the initiative to improve their writing skills, I think it supports a campus-wide expectation that our students be competent, and perhaps accomplished writers. This semester I have announced the availability of a writing mentor, especially for online consulting. One student has already indicated he will pursue this opportunity. I am sure that the online availability means more students will consider using this resource.”
David Reinhart said, “Honestly, I was becoming discouraged about assigning a research paper to my GenEd 390 course. Since reaching out to the Writing Center and asking for help, things are better. A specific tutor was assigned to the class who knows exactly what the expectations are for the writing assignment. Janina Wesolowski is a wonderful help. We discuss the scaffolding of the paper assignment, schedule multiple due dates, making it more possible to provide timely feedback to students. Generally speaking, student writing is improved. Plus it’s just fun working with a grad student who is excited about teaching.”
What is the one thing I want my students to take from this class?
Every semester, I try to remind myself of this question — that, if students take nothing from Individual & Society but one thing, what would I want it to be? I think it helps me to remember what I’m trying to do with my Gen-Ed Core Course, and that content isn’t everything.
But maybe the bigger question is: What is the one thing WE, as faculty, want OUR students — all UW-Whitewater students — to take from their collective experience in the Core Courses?
What are the Big Ideas we’re trying to impart?
For me, the answer would relate to Only Connect, the reading I now require for my I&S students at the beginning of the semester. In the essay, William Cronon talks about education as a means of bettering the community as a whole, as a way of fostering a civic consciousness and a more collectivist conception of the world and our place in it.
So many of our students are here for a degree, a piece of paper that they see as a step toward an individual goal, an individualist life. Many of my students have expressed surprise at the idea that one should become more aware of and connected to and concerned about the community one lives in as a hallmark of being educated. And yet, I would argue that this is the very reason we want students to have a common educational experience in the Core — I believe that we are here to help students learn how to think, to put their skills and talent to use for a purpose bigger than a paycheck.
What do you think? What’s the One Big Idea for the Core, in your mind?