Academic mashup: Library and learning centers coming together

Learning centers are an important part of supporting student success at Shoreline Community College and now officials are working on a plan that would move at least some of them to the center of campus.

“Our people are passionate about helping students,” Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs Bob Francis said. “The learning centers are a key piece. They are places where students can go and find academic support from faculty and peers.”

Right now, the various learning centers are scattered across the campus, Francis said. The plan is to start bringing centers into the Ray Howard Library and Technology Center to figuratively and literally create a centralized point of learning support.

“It will take more than just a little re-arranging. The space is there, but all the details still need to be worked out,” Francis said. “It can’t happen all at once, but we would like to start with the two biggest centers first; The Writing and Learning Studio (TWLS) and the Math Learning Center (MLC).”

Francis started working with Dean of Humanities Kathie Hunt and Dean of Science Susan Hoyne, along with Grace Rhodes, Director of TWLS, and Rosalie Tepper, Director of the MLC. Faculty in the impacted areas have also been brought into the discussion, Francis said. In general, there are three main points for the move:

  1. Centralization of student learning support centers – Francis pointed out that tutoring services has already moved from its former location in the FOSS building to the library. Early returns seem to indicate the move has been a good one, according to Lindsay Cael, director for student tutoring. “Our library already includes many learning resources coordinated and facilitated by our wonderful library faculty and staff,” Francis said. “I have asked Grace, Rosalie, Lindsey and (library director) Chris Matz to starting discussing how to incorporate TWLS and MLC into this already great space.”Francis said the tutoring-center experience reinforces the feeling that being in the library helps students fin help. “I have often worried about the support ‘treasure hunt’ we send our students on,” he said. “Where should they go when seeking out help? 9000? 5000?  4000? 2200? 1700?”
  1. Free-up more classrooms – “Every quarter, there is a scramble to find enough teaching spaces to meet student demand at key times,” Francis said. “Much like the way that airlines over-book flights, we sometimes are overbooking classrooms in anticipation of class cancellations.”The result he said, is not always best for students.  “Sometimes, we even lose students to other nearby colleges which have greater capacity,” Francis said.  He added that the potential for a new health sciences complex depends on funding from the Legislature and is too far down the road to help today’s students today.
  1. Create access for more students – Currently, less than half of Shoreline’s funding comes from the state in the form of a “state allocation.” That allocation is based on a complicated formula that includes myriad factors.  The most familiar factor is the full-time equivalent (FTE) target.  There are ongoing discussions to change the allocation formula and President Cheryl Roberts has been actively engaged in those discussions.  Not all the details are clear, but there a sense of urgency to around the recruitment, enrollment and retention of domestic students. With the strategic planning and strategic enrollment management efforts are aimed at those goals, optimizing our physical space on campus will help, he said.

As Francis and others looked more closely at the frailties of the moves, it became obvious that if TWLS and the MLC moved to the library, students needing classes at premium times would be better-off, students struggling to find the centers across campus would be better off and the directors and programs of both would have quality support.

“I don’t want to ignore that a move like this would have several challenges,” Francis said. “Certainly, moving the centers from long established locations is one of them.  Another is the impact of the increased student traffic in the 4000 building.

“However, I am committed to seriously exploring this move as a way to meet student needs.”

April 22nd, 2015 by