Information Update - Fall 2011

Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence 2010-2011 Academic Year

The Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence (CTLE) had a very busy 2010-2011 academic year. The center offered services to students in the areas of peer tutoring, supplemental instruction, reading services, writing services, accommodations for students with disabilities, and learning technology support services. In addition, the CTLE assisted as many English as a Second Language (ESL) students as possible with their language challenges. For faculty the center scheduled professional development opportunities, workshops on classroom issues, two different series on teaching effectiveness, assistance with learning technologies, assistance with the learning management system, ANGEL, and one-on-one support sessions. CTLE also offered a first-year faculty mentorship program in which every new full-time faculty member was paired with an experienced faculty member in another department who acted as a mentor.
 
Student Services
This area of our services had the largest demands on the resources of the center. More than1,800 individual requests for tutors at all levels were accommodated during the last academic year. While the largest number of requests came from freshmen, the requests from sophomores, juniors, seniors and even graduate students represent almost half of the total requests. The unit employed 174 tutors to accommodate the requests the center received.
 
Fifteen math courses had supplemental instruction (SI) components, serving about 600 students on a regular basis. This program has been highly successful at The University of Scranton and has reduced attrition significantly. While the national average of students participating in SI is 37 percent, the participation rate at Scranton has been an impressive 60 percent.
In addition to these services, 900 hours of tutoring were made available to students in the form of drop-in labs. While many students are used to and prefer one-on-one tutoring sessions, there are distinct advantages to group tutoring sessions, and they can be important for building learning communities where students can learn from each other.
 
In all, the tutoring services provided by the center have seen a dramatic increase in the last five years, from 1415 tutoring requests in the 2005-2006 academic year to 1839 tutoring requests in 2010-2011. This represents a 30 percent increase in tutoring requests over five years ago. According to student feedback provided to the center via surveys administered every semester, overall student perception of peer tutoring remains positive.
 
The reading specialist, James Muniz, assisted individuals with reading strategies and reading effectiveness. In addition to having coached individuals in active reading skills, the reading specialist provided some 350 hours of instruction in study and test-taking skills.
 
The Writing Center has seen significant improvement over the past year. Not surprisingly, usage of the service has increased by 17.7 percent. In the last few years, the Writing Center has seen almost a doubling of the number of students visiting it (534 in 2006-2007; 1,046 in 2010-2011) and also of the number of consultations provided (971 in 2006-2007; 1,900 in 2010-2011). Significant efforts have been made to attract more students to the Writing Center. A well-qualified and dedicated group of writing consultants greatly contributed to the success reflected not only by the increase in consultations, but also by the positive comments students provided in end-of-semester surveys. Two writing consultants assisted by the Writing Center coordinator, Mary Burkhart, received a grant last academic year to promote awareness about writing across borders – writing done by and required of ESL students.
 
We have continued to assist students with disabilities, particularly through the accommodation for tests and examinations in the CTLE, but also through all kinds of other means as they are deemed necessary. The idea is to level the playing field for all students, so that those afflicted with a disability have a fair chance to compete with the other students. We have intensified our self-advocacy training for students with disabilities. Also, 138 students with disabilities were registered at the center during the past academic year. More than 1,000 examinations were given at the center last year. There certainly are more students with disabilities than 138 individuals at The University of Scranton, but we can only work with students who self-disclose.
 
Faculty Services
The center is mandated to keep faculty and staff engaged in a discussion of teaching-related issues and to provide workshops on teaching pedagogy and effectiveness. In partial fulfillment of this mandate, the CTLE invited several well-known authorities such as Linda Nilson, Ph.D., of Clemson University and Jeanne Kincaid, Ph.D., to present to and discuss with our faculty on a variety of teaching and teaching-related issues. The CTLE faculty liaisons and the staff of the center also gave a number of workshops on subjects related to teaching. A new initiative of the center has been the inaugural Faculty to Faculty Exchange series, meant to promote discussions among The University of Scranton faculty regarding pedagogical approaches to teaching. Gretchen Van Dyke, Ph.D., associate professor of political science, was the first to conduct a presentation on using a seminar style approach to teaching. Altogether, about 400 faculty and staff members attended our workshops during the past academic year.
 
Thanks to the concerted efforts of the CTLE faculty liaisons, Anthony Ferzola, Ph.D., Marian Farrell, Ph.D., and Professor Betsey Moylan, the CTLE once again organized and delivered a first-year faculty mentorship program to 17 new faculty hires and their mentors for a total of 34 faculty members. The purpose of the program is to make it easier for new faculty to integrate into the campus and become familiar with the culture and day-to-day protocols of The University of Scranton.
 
The CTLE's collaboration with the library staff continues during the coming year with plans to present workshops on various topics pertaining to using technology in an educational setting. The "Technology on Your Own Terms" schedule is being worked on for fall 2011. Collaborative work extends to presentations to new faculty members. Recently, the CTLE and Weinberg Memorial Library (WML) have held an instructional technology session for full-time and part-time faculty members new to our campus.
 
Electronic signage in the CTLE has been enhanced, so that the center can inform visitors of its services, give them direction, and present facts about effective learning. The collaborative work between the CTLE and WML extends into the area of digital signage as information is exchanged automatically between the two units. In addition, we have a spot for the Writing Center on the Alumni iTower in the DeNaples Center and plan to continue having an information table for the Writing Center periodically in the DeNaples Center at lunchtime.
 
A new director of the center was appointed in May. I was tasked with the responsibilities of guiding the center in fulfilling its mission to support excellence in teaching and learning and practice the cura personalis central to Jesuit education. A search is underway for an associate director.
 
Eugeniu Grigorescu
Directory, CTLE    

 

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