Building a Bridge Between the Classroom and University Learning Center: Challenges and Opportunities

Concurrent Session 7

Brief Abstract

We will discuss how to bridge student-support efforts in the classroom and learning center to avoid duplicating efforts and crossing purposes with the goal of promoting student success to the greatest extent. Participants will apply what we discuss and/or modify what works at one university to fit their own institution.  


Dr. Ashley Babcock is the associate director of the Academic Success Center (ASC) and a professor in the School of Education at Northcentral University. She has over ten years experience in the fields of learning assistance and teaching scholarly writing/research. Dr. Babcock is active within learning center associations and is the founder and immediate past president of the Maryland College Learning Center Association (MDCLCA). She also holds coaching and tutoring certifications with the College Reading and Learning Association (CRLA) and the National Tutoring Association (NTA). Within her center, Dr. Babcock fosters a student-focused environment where coaches use technology and resources to assist students in being self-directed learners.

Additional Authors

Tara Lehan is committed to achieving inclusive excellence in online higher education through data-informed decision making. After earning her PhD from Florida State University, Tara completed a teaching and supervision fellowship at Ohio State University as well as a research fellowship at Virginia Commonwealth University. Excited about the possibilities associated with increasing access to high-quality education for more individuals, especially members of historically underrepresented groups, Tara accepted a position at Northcentral University, a completely online university, in 2011. Previously serving as Director of Learning Resources, Tara supported several teams, including the Academic Success Center, Library, and Faculty Scheduling/Academic Services. Currently serving as the Director of Strategic Research, Tara leads and provides support in assessment, evaluation, and quality assurance initiatives towards continuous improvement and strategic planning. She recently completed the Higher Education Resources Services (HERS) Wellesley Leadership Institute and NASPA Center for Women's Candid Conversations 365 and serves on the university's diversity committee.
Michael Shriner earned his Ph.D. in fam¬ily and child sciences from Florida State University. He is currently a professor in the School of Education at Northcentral University in San Diego, CA. Prior to working at Northcentral University, Dr. Shriner was a study director at Westat in Rockville, Maryland, where he worked on the National Children’s Study, which was administered by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, and on the national evaluation of the developmental disabilities pro¬grams administered under the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act of 2000. Dr. Shriner has served as a program evaluator and statistical consultant for vari¬ous grants administered by the U.S. Department of Education. He is an author of numerous research articles and a co-author of the textbooks Supporting Children’s Socialization: A Developmental Approach, Lifespan 360: Christian Perspectives on Human Development, and Essential of Lifespan Development: A Topical Approach.

Extended Abstract

Background. The greatest recent gains in enrollment have occurred at open-access or nearly open-access institutions; however, evidence of success in terms of retention and completion rates is mixed. These mixed results might partially be due to the various types and perceptions of student support structures that are in place across these institutions. Results of research show that online students desire many of the same support services that traditionally are offered to students at brick-and-mortar institutions, including online tutoring/coaching. Moreover, positive outcomes have been reported in association with students’ engaging with their university learning center, including increased grade point average, persistence, retention, and completion. Scholars have argued that the best outcomes are achieved when learning center professionals collaborate with faculty members to promote student success. Although they exist at nearly every higher educational institution in the United States, learning centers historically have been developed and continue to function in the margins. Research on how to build a bridge between the classroom and learning center is limited. Therefore, as research in this area is being prepared, it is critical at this time for the professionals who are doing this work to share their experiences, including their successes and failures, so that we can support current students to the greatest extent possible. In this workshop, we will describe why and how both institutional and primary research were completed to guide efforts to increase collaboration between faculty members and academic coaches at one learning center at one completely online university. Specific enhancements that were made as a result of this research will be highlighted. In addition, challenges that we faced, such as how to ensure that faculty members and learning center professionals are speaking the same assessment language, as well as opportunities upon which we capitalized, such as faculty members' requesting to sit in on coaching sessions to fill a gap in knowledge, will be discussed. Furthermore, we will present real-world examples of how a faculty member and learning center professional collaborated with a student to develop a personalized long-term coaching plan, which resulted in the student's success. Activity: Participants will complete a handout that will allow them to consider challenges and opportunities at their own institution as well as consider how they might modify best practices at one university to enhance student support at their own institution. Objectives/Outcomes: Participants will be able to (1) explain under which conditions collaboration between faculty members and learning center professionals can be beneficial and (2) generate meaningful steps that they can take at their institution to build a bridge between the classroom and university learning center.