Improve First Term Student Success with Interactive OERs as “Just in Time” Support

Concurrent Session 6

Session Materials

Brief Abstract

This session will focus on online academic support tools that may be required within courses or used as stand-alone resources. Participants will learn about innovative academic support offerings and may demo three open source tools including an assignment calculator, thesis generator and interactive academic skill development video series. Related course completion rates will be shared.


Seana Logsdon is the Director of Academic Support for the Buffalo and Rochester regions of SUNY Empire State College. Ms. Logsdon has a B.A. in Psychology from SUNY Geneseo, an M.S in Student Personnel Administration from SUNY Buffalo State College, and Ph.D. work in Higher Education at the University of Rochester. Her primary research and program/resource development interest is related to student readiness and the seamless integration of academic support tools/resources within a course of study. She has presented at numerous conferences, including most recently, “Using Embedded Academic Support to Strengthen Links Between Co-Requisite Learning ” at the 2019 National Association for Developmental Education conference. She is the co-author of “A Progressive Institution Takes on Academic Support, 21st Century” in the edited volume of Principles, Practices, and Creative Tensions in Progressive Higher Education: One Institution’s Struggle to Sustain a Vision (2017) and is currently the Principal Investigator of a SUNY Strong Start to Finish grant focused on improving gateway course completion in the first term.

Extended Abstract

SUNY Empire State College is a near-open admissions public college serving primarily non-traditional learners. With a current population at approximately 17,000 with 34 locations in New York State, 7 international locations and more than half its students taking one or more online courses, supporting learners with pre-college or near-college level skills is a constant challenge. The college has one non-credit writing course and less than 1% of all admitted students are required to complete it despite the need being much greater. Non-traditional students come with many competing demands and consistently report that there is not room in their schedule for additional appointments such as tutoring services and national conversation on remedial education is demanding the reduction or in some cases elimination of non-credit developmental courses. As such, it became imperative for SUNY Empire State College to consider alternative approaches to supporting online academic skills development.

This session will focus on three models of open educational resources (OERs) as a method to support core academic skill development, with a special emphasis on their use in the first term. The presenter will share why and how academic support offerings have evolved beyond traditional tutoring to “just in time” embedded support in order to meet the needs of a population with many competing demands. Once an underlying framework has been set, participants will view three open source tools including an assignment calculator, thesis generator and interactive videos in areas such as working with sources, building and argument and graphing. During the demonstration of the tools, participants will be encouraged to use their own personal devices as well.

As part of the demonstration, participants will learn more about the OER development process and planning needed to successfully create similar OER tools. While participants will be encouraged to use these open source tools if so desired, additional information on open source code will be shared should participants wish to create a similar customized tool for their institution.

Finally, data collected by the college’s Office of Decision Support will demonstrate the positive impact this model has had on course completion, with a special emphasis on first-term course completion. In particular, data will show that students who engage with academic support are three times more likely to complete courses in their first term that those students who do not. Finally, this model will be shared as a variation on emerging co-requisite courses—with a scope that is more far-reaching and that may by design benefit a larger group of learners.