Home Academic writing Learning centers are key to student success – Campus News

Learning centers are key to student success – Campus News


By Professor Emeritus Hussein D. Emin (photo)
and Bob D’Anna, ELC

Nassau Community College
Campus news special

Student populations across the country are more diverse than ever. They bring varying degrees of academic readiness and ability to campuses. In order to help them succeed in their university studies, institutions are multiplying the types of student services they offer. One such program are tutoring services.

Nassau Community College (NCC) – SUNY, is no exception to the trend. It has historically always funded student services, and in particular tutoring assistance. The Department of Accounting and Business Administration began offering these services in the 1960s. Services have evolved over the years from a small room to a large separate triple classroom with desks, tables, 15 computers, books and a team of full-time and part-time tutors. The room has a flat-screen TV mounted outside its entrance, connected to cable business channels, where students can see real live examples of what is discussed in their classes. The institution has been praised for its access to students and its operation. Recently, Middle States, during its re-accreditation process, cited the institution as the “jewel of the department”.

The role of the departmental tutoring services is to complement/support the efforts of the class faculty. Tutors answer student questions, clarify difficult concepts, attempt to relate the topic to practical situations (if possible), and encourage students to “stick to it” by attending the lab if necessary. These services are provided on an individual basis and at no cost to students.

The activities of the laboratory have evolved over the last decade. More and more teachers have reduced the use of “objective short-answer” type questions, ie. increased in almost every course. As a result, students enter the lab not only with technical questions, but also with questions involving critical and creative thinking, teamwork, oral presentations, report writing, and researching topics on accounting and deals.

Another important function of staff is to encourage, motivate, and attract students who need help to actively participate in the lab. The department does this through the following activities:
1. On each departmental lesson plan, there is a paragraph explaining the nature, role, location and hours of the laboratory.
2. On the first/second day of class, the lab coordinator visits each accounting and management class on campus for a short five-minute lab presentation, discussing the items noted in number 1. A similar announcement is made in distance learning courses.
3. Teachers are requested, especially after their first exam/assignment, to recommend students to use the lab.
4. At the beginning of the semester, the professors take their accounting and business classes to visit the laboratory and show them how the center works.
5. Scholarships are available at the end of the semester for students who have started their accounting or business courses poorly and who, through the use of the completed lab, have completed their courses with significant improvements (see the program of Emin Learning Center scholarships below).

Shortly after his retirement in 2013, Professor Emeritus Hussein D. Emin, a full-time faculty member for 35 years and former department head, wanted to urge low-performing students to “never give up” and ask to help when needed. Accordingly, it provided financial support for the establishment of a scholarship program to do so. In recognition of his efforts, the laboratory was renamed by the College administration the “Emin Learning Center” (ELC). A plaque was placed at the entrance to the ELC recognizing his efforts. ELC’s updated entrance and interior upgrades with desks, tables, and computers now provide an engaging learning environment for students seeking assistance. Applications for the scholarship program are distributed to students once they have entered ELC.

Institutions of higher education, especially community colleges, must constantly ensure that students have the appropriate resources to improve their academic success. One such valuable resource is the Tutorial Learning Center. These centers/laboratories (the word center has a broad connotation, while laboratory seems to denote a narrow goal; center seems to be the best term) provide valuable assistance, advice and information to students that will improve their ability to succeed academic and in the workplace. Hopefully this article provides some insight into such a program.