Resource Spotlight: Student Academic Success Center (SASC)
The Student Academic Success Center (SASC) at UNE is a tutoring resource for UNE students, online and on-ground alike. Brenda Edmands, Coordinator of SASC on the Portland Campus and for the online programs, shares how SASC follows the best practices of academic support, and how they work toward fulfilling their mission of helping students become successful, independent, lifelong learners.
Can you give me an overview of what SASC is, and what you offer to our online students?
Sure! SASC stands for the Student Academic Success Center, and we serve both on-campus and online students. On the Portland Campus, in addition to staff who focus on supporting the Portland Campus students, who are primarily enrolled in graduate-level programs in the health professions, we also have two full-time professional staff specialists and several part-time professional tutors dedicated exclusively to serving our online graduate student population.
Who gets tutoring?
We did a study last year of the entire UNE student population – online, undergraduate, and graduate – and we found that regardless of program, a large percentage of UNE students work with SASC.
We find that we get more heavily used at different points in a student’s academic career, but we tend to help a large volume of students in their early courses as they are just beginning their graduate academic journeys.
Many of the students we support on the Portland Campus, whether on-ground or online, have been in their careers for several years and are returning to school for various reasons. So it’s an adjustment, getting back into the flow of being a student. Or we have people who sailed through undergrad who are discovering that graduate-level material is a different level of difficulty or requires different ways of thinking and different ways of using source material. They are learning that their previous study habits may not be as effective as they once were in the new context of graduate school, so they come to us to see how they can streamline and enhance their study habits.
SASC offers four main services
Learning Strategy Support
- Time management and organization
- Accessing and using online academic support resources
- Study skills to make the most effective and efficient use of your time
- Using research to support your arguments
- Using the Blackboard platform
- Coaching on the skill sets that you need for a specific set of courses
- Understanding statistics and using statistical software such as STATA
- What happens in those writing support appointments anyway?
- Getting started with a writing assignment
- Improving focus and organization of writing
- Paraphrasing and using source material ethically and effectively
- Guiding you in identifying and correcting grammatical errors
- Increasing the level of your vocabulary
- Using AMA- and APA-style paper and citation formats properly
- Guiding you in recognizing and correcting common errors related to ESOL
- Answering your questions about American-English grammar and idioms
- Rehearsing and preparing for oral presentations
- Refining your English pronunciation
- Understanding and using Western academic writing conventions and structures
Why do graduate students need tutoring?
UNE students, whether online or on campus, are highly-intelligent, hard-working, capable people who are accustomed to succeeding. But some students hit a wall when they start grad school. It’s not about lack of intelligence or lack of effort. Most often, it’s more about how they are applying an old strategy that just doesn’t work for their new context. They keep trying to grind along the same path that they always were on, but that path isn’t getting them to their destination. They may never have hit a wall before, so they didn’t have a chance to develop that skill or come up with a different learning strategy. It’s an eye-opener to a lot of people.
Grad school is a different environment and a different context. Students need to learn how to learn – and we help with that.
We give students the skills that they need for the new context that they are in, and we reassure students that their experience is not out of the ordinary. Everyone feels like maybe they’re over their head. But Admissions doesn’t let you in unless you have a proven record of success. We help students realize that grad school is doable – if you adjust your method of attack.
Privacy and neutrality
Accessing faculty is one of the best things a student can do, but if students are hesitant to do that, or are not willing to do that, SASC exists as a neutral party. We keep things private. Though we’re not covered by the same legal guidelines as a counseling session, we don’t feel the need to ever share specific things that specific students have said to us.
When are appointments available?
We recognize that a lot of our online students are in different time zones, so to accommodate we have both early morning and later evening appointment slots available. We are a small shop, so our staff has moved to a split schedule to increase our coverage. There are often days that our staff come in and work 8 am to 11 am, then they leave and come back and do a 3 pm to 9 pm shift. We always have weekend support available, and try to be flexible with online hours, because we recognize that the majority of our online students are working.
How far in advance should you schedule graduate tutoring?
If you’re trying to get an appointment at the last minute, you run the risk of all the tutors being booked. Students can make online appointments for up to 14 days in advance. We really encourage students to plan ahead as much as possible. Look at the syllabus, try and anticipate any potential issues, and make an appointment if you think you’ll need some extra help.
It’s a time management thing. Students who call us or who look on the online scheduler just 2-3 days ahead of time are sometimes disappointed. Online students have deadlines on Wednesdays and Sundays – so we get pretty booked up on Tuesday and Saturday nights as a result.
We can’t guarantee we’ll be able to do an appointment for everyone because that would be physically impossible, but if we know early enough that someone is looking for assistance, we can see if one of our tutors has the capacity to offer a couple of extra hours to accommodate the student. A lot of our tutors are happy to pick up an extra hour here or there. So reach out and we’ll do our best to work with you. Contact information is provided on our intranet site or via the online scheduler.
Where do appointments happen?
Individual and small group support appointments are by video conference or by phone. Or, if you’re convenient to the Portland campus you can also visit the SASC office in Proctor Hall, Room 102.
TutorTrac login link: https://une.go-redrock.com/TracWeb40/default.html
24/7 access to prerecorded resources
We have also created several asynchronistic resources that both our online and our on-campus students can access through our intranet site. We want to make sure that all students have access to all of the SASC academic support content as most resources and tips apply across the board to successful learning, no matter the student’s level, major or location.
Where to find SASC
If you would like to book an appointment, visit the TutorTrac website: une.tutortrac.com. For more information about the services offered by the Student Academic Success Center, including videos and handouts on citation formats, test-taking, and studying tips, improving your grammar, and more, visit https://une1.sharepoint.com/sites/SASC. And please don’t hesitate to contact SASC directly with questions or if you need help setting up appointments. Contact information can be found at the SASC intranet site. We’re here to help you succeed!
Thank you, Brenda, for your insight into how SASC helps students and sets them up for success!