Strategies for Academic Success Sessions to fill gaps in student progress
The University of Texas-Pan American is offering its students some SASS to assist them in their classes.
Tips on note-taking, time management and other components of college work are part of the Strategies for Academic Success Sessions that have been going on since January.
Ten topics that concentrate on improving student learning in class are being taught Thursdays and Fridays in 20 non-credit sessions until April. The sessions are open to all students, free of charge.
Each session covers a topic meant to give tips and strategies to make passing classes simpler and less stressful. The first was held Jan. 24 and the last will be April 19 in the Health Science and Human Services West Building, Room 1.404.
The sessions are sponsored by the Office of Undergraduate Studies, along with the Learning Assistance Center, the Writing Center, the University Academic Advising Center and the Center for Online Learning, Teaching and Technology.
Kristin Croyle, vice provost for undergraduate education, came up with the idea. She said that the sessions were created because many students struggle with the underlying structure of learning, and she gave an example.
“You’ve got this big textbook to read and you’re a strong reader when you read novels,” she said. “But when you try to read an academic textbook, it’s a whole different type of reading.”
There is a session tailored for reading college-level work, for students who have problems that Croyle mentioned.
Marilyn Hagerty, director for the University’s Academic Advising Center, agrees that college material is not the same thing students may have been used to in the past.
“It’s different reading academic material from pleasure reading,” she said. “What the college faculty expects students to get out of reading is different from what they were expected to get out of it in high school.”
Along with a reading session, there is one for note-taking, help with essay assignments, acing finals, and more topics that Croyle says students need assistance with.
There will be sessions that cover time management March 28 and 29, which Croyle thinks could really come in handy.
“Maybe a student is very good at managing the responsibilities in their lives but they may not recognize all the time commitment that college classes take,” she suggested. “So their time management just falls apart.”
Hagerty added that time management seems to be a common problem for students of every classification and can take a toll on one’s studies.
“I think that there’s a misconception that college means more freedom, so students forget that the responsibility is on them to map out how they’re going to study,” she said. “It’s not about waiting to study until the day before.”
Hagerty also believes that the sessions can help lower the amount of students on academic probation of all classifications, especially freshmen. Out of the 3,102 freshmen enrolled in fall 2012 for the first time at UTPA, 544 are on probation.
“A lot of times when freshmen are coming in, they don’t get a good start at the beginning of the semester,” she offered. “And they find out maybe a month into it that their methods aren’t working and they become overwhelmed.”
Croyle believes that the sessions are useful to students because they offer information not normally received in class.
“These are topics that some of the faculty doesn’t cover because it’s not their thing. Teaching students how to read a textbook is not something you teach in class,” Croyle said.
She also felt that students deserve solutions for their problems and that these tutorials can give them just that because of the professionals involved, such as UNIV 1301 instructors and the strategies they teach.
“It’s kind of like trying to fix your own car,” Croyle explained. “If you don’t know much about it, you can just try and try and you probably won’t make much progress. But if you have someone who is an expert looking over your shoulder, that would help you reach your goal much more easily.”