By Fanny Belaud | December 4, 2023
Learning Commons on the first floor of University Library.
Photo Credit: Fanny Belaud / The ASP
The University at Albany inaugurated the Learning Commons located on the first floor of the University Library (LI-36), a new academic service meant to provide an outlet for students to go and receive extra help on their assignments on October 24. Being equipped with a variety of resources, this service promises to become a resourceful tool for students.
This resource was implemented to provide additional tutoring options already being provided on campus, expanding the Center For Achievement, Retention, and Student Success (CARSS) services; which provides free academic assistance to students enrolled in first and second-year biology, chemistry, and physics courses.
“Our overarching goal is to remain in a state of perpetual student readiness. We aim to meet all students where they are and to support them in achieving their aspirations. We accomplish this by emphasizing student learning and development through the provision of tutors, supplemental instructors, mentors, and a caring environment,” Professor Rabi Ann Musah, the newly appointed Associate Vice Provost of the Learning Commons, said.
The LC provides custom-fit options to current students majoring in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) departments. The resources being offered are peer tutoring, additional instruction for science majors, support for tutoring in academic departments, and online tutoring anytime, anywhere.
This increase in support for STEM departments in part comes from a $2.5 million investment from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute to promote a more inclusive approach to teaching STEM disciplines. This five-year grant has given room for UAlbany to develop a new program called EXCELlence in STEM. This is meant to provide additional support in increasing the retention of students, as well as graduation rates. This program is based on three main approaches: student-centered, faculty-centered, and institution-centered.
The student-centered portion includes; The Summer Bridge Program, including Diagnostic Assessment and Achievement of College Skills (DAACS), basic math and science educational programs, academic coaching, and summer research opportunities. Student Success Teams which include an advisor, academic coach, resident director, supplemental instructor, financial aid counselor, and an optional pre-health advisor. Microgrants are also available to UAlbany students as well as engagement opportunities to financially support students by providing them employment as peer tutors, work-study staff, and mentors.
Learning Commons tutoring center on the first floor of University Library.
Photo Credit: Fanny Belaud / The ASP
The faculty-centered portion includes updated designs with a focus on new learning models, inclusive teaching, targeted learning pathways, an implementation of evidence-based practices and this section includes the APLU Student Experience Project Institute (SEP). Faculty STEM Learning communities, which include the development of STEM modules and the implementation of a STEM faculty summer institute.
The institution-centered portion includes resources for program sustainability, which comes with a dedicated space for the EXCEL in STEM program within the Learning Commons. Permanent personnel to support and grow the program. Pedagogical enhancements of STEM programs through recruitment and training of diverse STEM graduate students along with skills badges and micro credentials and the creation of scholarly research.
Robert Sheedy, a library clerk, stated “I have noticed an increase in foot traffic, and I think that it is a wonderful use of the available library space.”