Are you Ready for Fall Classes?

Are you ready for the first week of fall classes?
I’m looking forward to the students, the excitement, the energy, the traffic (well, maybe not the traffic). In Brock University A-Z Learning Services, we are preparing for our student staff training, student orientation activities, and at-risk student success programming.


Brock University, Matheson Learning Commons

We’re also busy connecting with our Brock professors to plan support interventions. Here at Brock, students seek out our services (e.g., workshops and drop-in support). However, we also deliver skill development workshops in lectures and offer Academic-Zone online access, as requested by professors. Academic-Zone can be implemented immediately and provides professors with a means to assess and support students’ foundational writing, grammar, and numeracy skills. How? All modules have pre- and post-quizzes and corresponding learning modules. Professors tell us the module they want and the date for the quiz (often before course assignments). Then we give them an academic-zone access code for student registration. Students test online and can explore the modules at their own leisure—to prepare for the post-quiz or as a support resource when completing assignments. Students can also seek additional support through their professor, teaching assistant, or campus services.
Through Academic-Zone, we’ve built strong service and faculty partnerships.

     • Are you a professor who has implemented Academic-Zone in your course? What has been your experience? What are  your strategies?
     • Are you a student staff professional using Academic-Zone in your service or as a support resource for your faculty? What is your story? Do you feel that students benefit from these partnerships?
     • Not an Academic-Zone user? Share your own strategies, challenges, or successes as an instructor or service provider. How do you engage and support students?

Sharing implementation successes and challenges will help all of us in our work.

Margaret Groombridge

3 responses to “Are you Ready for Fall Classes?

  1. We began using Essay-Zone on our campus (Mount Royal University) in 2010 and haven’t looked back since. Just this week, I ran a workshop for our faculty about Essay-Zone — what it is and how to use it with students, whether it’s an add-on to a course or integrated or embedded. There is such flexibility for instructors as to how the richness of the tutorial can be shared with developing academic writers. This student comment so embodies our delight with Essay-Zone:
    “I think Essay-Zone is a great tool to help university students with simple writing questions and skills. It gives great resources to structure your papers, especially depending on what kind of paper you are writing. This helped me immensely with my papers throughout my semester.”

    Aileen Smyth, B.Ed., MA
    Writing and Learning Strategist
    Student Learning Services
    Mount Royal University

  2. Sherri Vansickle

    The Academic-Zone has been a huge support for my students at Brock University. I have used the lessons with my First Nations students, my Chinese students and my mainstream students. Everyone has benefited and improved their understanding of the writing process!

    I really like how user-friendly it is for those of us who are not very tech-savvy. The students really appreciate the feedback which helps them immediately understand how to improve their writing. I have incorporated the use of the Academic-Zone as part of my evaluation process as well. I want my students to be the writers that they can be. I am looking forward to introducing my students to this excellent program for this academic year!

    Sherri Vansickle, M.Ed.
    Tecumseh Centre for Aboriginal Research and Education
    Brock University

  3. Jennifer Meister

    I completely agree that collaborating with faculty is key. Students typically have a lot happening during the semester and may not reach out or even pay attention to existing support services. We’ve found that working with faculty members to promote services and resources has led to greater buy-in and interest on the students’ part (and in many cases, on the instructors’ part as well!).

    We’ve been using the Numeracy modules since earlier this year and have found faculty to be the biggest driving force in use. When faculty promote the modules in their courses or when they refer students to the program, students are far more engaged and willing to get extra help than they would be otherwise. This often pushes them toward other services and resources as well, so it becomes an even more positive experience.

    Thanks for all your help and suggestions!

    Jennifer Meister, M.Ed.
    Academic Skills Program Coordinator
    Student Success Centre
    McMaster University

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