From around the world, Bryant University’s Academic Center for Excellence is providing one-on-one support to students. The center, affectionately known on campus as ACE, offers a variety of support services – from math tutoring to writing assistance – to students of all levels and majors.
From March 16, when distance learning in response to the COVID-19 pandemic began, to April 2, the ACE team has conducted about 450 online student visits, says Director Stephanie Carter. That 110-member team includes 100 trained and certified peer tutors and peer writing consultants as well as professional learning, writing, and math specialists – all ready to meet with students virtually wherever they may be.
Carter and her team began preparing in mid- to late February for online delivery of support. “That gave us time to see what tech platforms worked best,” she says. Their careful planning resulted in an easy transition for students as well as the tutors and learning specialists.
Robust academic support resources
ACE provides peer tutoring for every class offered at Bryant and the Writing Center’s peer writing consultants work with students on all aspects of writing from brainstorming to organization, grammar to citations. Research shows that students who make between three and five visits to ACE/the Writing Center see positive results of up to a .5 impact in their grade in the class they come in for help with, says Carter.
“Our tutors are effectively connecting with students virtually just as they did face-to-face."
The adjustment in the delivery method of ACE's services has not affected the team's dedication.
“Our tutors are effectively connecting with students virtually just as they did face-to-face,” says Carter. “We’re tutoring students in accounting, information systems and analytics, economics, math, and science and providing assistance with writing as well."
Like the students they are assisting, she notes, the peer tutors find the human connection valuable during this period of social distancing. “They have said working with fellow students helps them stay connected to the Bryant community,” says Carter.
First-time students welcome
Although sessions are now virtual, they are still readily accessible, Carter notes. Once a student contacts ACE and an appointment is set up, the tutor shares a Zoom link to click and start the appointment. If there’s a problem, the tutor has the student’s phone number and will call. For students who cannot use Zoom, tutors are happy to use other technology to connect.
Carter’s advice for students who have not previously taken advantage of ACE or the Writing Center’s services:
- Don’t be intimidated by the technology. “We offer exactly the same kind of support students would have received walking in to ACE."
- If you have any questions, give a call. “We’ll walk you through the whole process.”
Help with strategies for success
In addition to peer support, professional learning specialists are available to help students work through issues ranging from time management to reducing math anxiety to how to take a test online. The learning specialists meet one-on-one weekly with some students or more frequently, as needed.
“They provide support for whatever challenges students are experiencing, even if it’s not a paper or math exam,” says Carter. “It can be hard for students to get motivated to do school work when everyone else at home may be cocooning,” she notes. “We can help students adjust to learning in this new environment or with reconfiguring time management skills if they are now working 40 hours a week at the grocery story while they’re home and trying to keep up with coursework.”
On-demand student success workshops
Prior to the COVID-19 precautions that led to distance learning, ACE offered five to six workshops a week on topics ranging from reading for optimal academic performance to avoiding plagiarism, from diversity awareness to ethical reasoning.
As an alternative, ACE now offers Student Lingo workshops students can access 24/7. Topics range from Stress Management Techniques to 10 Tips for Success in Your Online Course to Creating Your College Bucket List and Overcoming Procrastination.
Students can also get one-on-one support with student success topics from ACE's learning specialists. For example, a student can watch the Student Lingo video about note-taking strategies and then make an appointment with a learning specialist to hone that skill for their own classes, says Carter. “We’re here to help student achieve their goals for academic success.”
Hours of service
- 10 a.m. -10 p.m. – Monday through Thursday
- 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. – Friday
- 5 p.m. – 10 p.m. – Sunday
Contact the Centers for Student Success
- Centers for Success Director Stephanie Carter