New Quarters, Higher Profile at the Learning Resource Center

December 04, 2015

With the opening in August of Kirk Hall at University Campus, the university’s Learning Resource Center moved into a fresh new space where students regularly meet with tutors, tackle assignments for upcoming classes, and, over time, acquire the skills that will make them more capable and independent learners. And from time to time, they even laugh and find they are enjoying their sessions.

While the center functioned effectively in its former location on the second floor of the Student Activities Building, it is attracting even more students now that it occupies part of the first floor of Kirk Hall, according to Dr. Joanne MacEachran, director of Academic Student Support Services. Dr. MacEachran explained the center is more visible to students as they cross the academic quad or enter Kirk Hall for their freshman or upper-level classes, and so can draw in more students naturally. The first-floor location is also more directly accessible to students who use wheelchairs, walkers, or crutches.

Once students have made contact with the center, they may find more varied and in-depth services available—for free—than they ever thought existed. “Whatever a student needs, we will try to give him or her support,” said Dr. MacEachran (pictured in LRC). Help can be requested at any point during an individual course or the semester. Many times, students are seeking a higher grade, such as an A or B, instead of a B or C. And the extra help works.

Students can visit the Learning Resource Center at University Campus for:

  • Help managing an academic schedule through assistance in sorting, understanding, and planning time to complete all the assignments that will be due during the semester.
  • Individualized help in understanding how to write a college paper, how to read deeply and analytically, or how to take notes effectively.
  • A convenient place to study, use a computer lab, and make printouts.
  • An area for group study among peers.
  • Scheduled appointments with highly qualified tutors who can help in specified undergraduate areas such as writing, math, history, political science, biology, chemistry, religion, accounting, criminal justice, and more.
  • A tutor who is available for Master of Business Administration degree courses and uses an online, real-time connection program.
  • A dedicated testing room where students who require an environment without any distractions may take the tests that come with their regular course requirements.
  • Access to course materials that are suitable for students with disabilities, such as an audio tape for a visually impaired student in place of the online text.
  • A regular free supply of coffee, tea, popcorn and a welcoming atmosphere.

In the past, the center has been most heavily used by second-semester sophomores, juniors, and seniors, Dr. MacEachran said. During the fall semester in Kirk Hall, it was good to see that more freshmen were using the center.

Even though freshmen are naturally forging their identities as independent learners, educators want them to know that requesting help is also “a mature and positive behavior,” Dr. MacEachran said. “Really, it’s OK to ask for help. Even those of us who are already professionals have the opportunity to ask other professionals what they think. We help each other.”

That is a message Dr. MacEachran also wants transfer students and adult learners returning to school to absorb. The Learning Resource Center is available to them, as well. For instance, the center is open on Saturday and Sunday (from 1 p.m. to 10 p.m.) partly to accommodate the needs of Adult Education Center students at University Campus. On weekdays, the Learning Resource Center is open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Commuter students are often at the doors at opening time.

Students at education centers elsewhere or online students have free access through the Learning Resource Center to Smarthinking, an organization that provides individual tutoring through an online platform. Students email Dr. MacEachran at joanne.maceachran@saintleo.edu to set up an account for Smarthinking with an initial allotment of time for tutoring (much like a calling plan). Dr. MacEachran replenishes the account as students need more time—though it is up to the students to email her and request the time. Smarthinking services are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

For more information, call (352) 588-8409 or email LRC@saintleo.edu.