Kent State’s Academic Success Center Receives National Award for Excellence
The Kent State University Academic Success Center has received the Frank L. Christ Outstanding Learning Center Award for its success as an interactive academic space for students to reinforce what they learn in the classroom. Each year, a two-year institution and a four-year institution are chosen as the recipients for the award. The award focuses heavily on the use of technology and if it can be used as a model for other institutions.
The Christ Award is presented on behalf of the National College Learning Center Association (NCLCA), an organization working to recognize institutions with learning centers setting the bar for excellence. The award is designed to give national recognition to a school whose learning center exemplifies the high standards the NCLCA sets.
“We are overjoyed to have been selected as the four-year university recipient of the Frank L. Christ Outstanding Learning Center Award this year by the National College Learning Center Association,” said Brent Robinson, assistant dean of Academic Student Support Services at Kent State. “This distinction honors the incredible work being done by the Academic Success Center’s staff of students and professionals. Further, it validates the university’s commitment to student success through the outstanding level of support evidenced by the resources provided.”
“It doesn’t matter who you are, if you’re a freshman or a nontraditional student,” said Emily Summy, sophomore applied communication major and peer mentor. “They really care about your success. They want you to graduate. Even if you’re just coming here for a couple of classes, they want you to do well in those.”
The Academic Success Center was remodeled in 2015 and fitted with high-tech equipment. Two examples are the computers students can use to connect to projectors and high-definition display monitors, and the SMART podium. The technology was chosen because it has been proven to improve student performance.
Students who work with the Academic Success Center have a much higher success rate at Kent State than students who try to work through everything on their own, said Stephanie Walker, director of the center. Students who used university tutoring had a 13 percent higher pass rate than students who did not, and students who used supplemental instruction had a 21 percent higher pass rate than students who did not. Students who used the Academic Success Center services had a 0.38 higher GPA than students who did not take advantage of them. Nearly 40 percent of freshmen in the 2014-2015 year used Academic Success Center services.
The Academic Success Center has helped many students bolster their academic performance.
“The rapid growth of the Academic Success Center at Kent State has been unprecedented,” Robinson said. “Four years ago, 15,224 student tutoring visits were logged; whereas last year, that number reached 30,717. This amounted to nearly 4,000 unique students who used some form of tutoring. Keep in mind, however, this number doesn’t even include the approximately 3,300 students and 20,000 contact hours averaged over the last three years by the center’s Supplemental Instruction program, composed of organized group study sessions led by students who previously earned an A in a historically difficult course.”
The Academic Success Center has four different branches: academic coaching, study skills tutoring, supplemental instruction and university tutoring. Its aim is to teach students skills necessary to achieve success at the university, while working with each student’s individual needs.
Academic coaching allows students to get one-on-one assistance to help work on decision-making skills, learn about strengths and areas for improvement and ways to build success while at Kent State. The coaches meet with the students at least six times a semester to check on progress.
Study skills tutoring is a program for students to learn about semester planning, time management, test preparation, note taking and more. The tutoring takes place on the sixth floor of University Library.
Supplemental instruction is offered for historically difficult courses. The peer-facilitated study sessions are taught by student facilitators who have taken the course previously and received an A.
“Everyone has such enthusiasm for their jobs,” said Jessica Paul, junior nursing major and supplemental instruction leader. “All the supplemental instruction leaders I know love what they do, and it excites them to be able to help students. They give students a place to turn to with questions or for clarification and to set them up for a positive academic experience.”
University tutoring is offered as drop in, scheduled and eTutoring. Classroom assistants also are available, usually in math courses. The tutoring is free and available to all students. Plus, it is flexible with their schedules.
“It helps a lot,” said Miguel Richey, Kent State aircraft systems and engineering technology alumnus and tutor for two and a half years in the center. “It’s very important for the university. It helps students pass their classes. It helped with my academics and leadership skills.”