By Guy Harrison, Media & Marketing Specialist
PINAL COUNTY, Ariz. – In the fall of 2008, Central Arizona College’s Office of Learning Support set multiple goals geared toward improving accessibility for the community it serves. Two years later, the verdict is in.
“We have met, and in some instances, exceeded our own goals and expectations,” Barrington Campbell, CAC’s director of Learning Support, stated during his presentation at the Pinal County Community College District Governing Board meeting on Jan. 18.
Through countless hours of dedication, the office has added to its already thorough tutoring formats. Originally, Learning Support only offered assistance through face-to-face, online and phone modalities. Now the office provides assistance through online stations located at each of CAC’s 10 locations, along with iTV (interactive television).
These new modalities enabled Learning Support to serve students more than 146,000 times in 2010. The increased use of technology also has allowed students to reach tutors from anywhere across the district, reducing strain on the college’s iTV schedule. Tutors have the ability to conference with other tutors while creating uniformity of content across the district via Blackboard and e-mail workshops.
This has given tutors the opportunity to reach new and international students sooner by participating in orientation and open house events hosted by CAC’s student retention program.
“In looking at what we’ve done just since last week, we have quadrupled our student attendance in our workshops,” Campbell declared. “Our online academic support has grown from not only addressing math, English, and writing courses, but also accounting, statistics and all of the hard sciences.”
Learning Support has accomplished all of this after mapping out five- and 10-year plans, hoping to match CAC’s potential growth - some of which has already been realized - as the college continues to add students and space for those students across the district.
In addition, the office has reinvested in its staff, promoting professional development while training more staff to do online tutoring which has reduced tutor response time.
As a prime example of this reinvestment, Learning Support has upgraded its Superstition Mountain Campus site coordinator position to an assistant director position that is currently held by Dr. Temenoujka Fuller, an 11-year employee of the college. Fuller has expanded her duties and responsibilities across the entire district.
Additionally, all learning support specialists are now content specialists for their respective areas.
“Before, they were content specialists at their respective [CAC locations]. They now have increased their travel to other [locations] to make sure the content integrity stays at its highest,” Campbell said, adding that Learning Support is now a certified program boasting two master tutors and two master tutor trainers on its staff.
“We have done most of this not by adding money to our budget,” Campbell went on to say, “but by reallocating our resources.”
Learning Support has shared its wealth of knowledge and services throughout the district and beyond, working with tutors from AmeriCorps, Title V, and TRiO grant programs. In addition, Learning Support disseminates three newsletters per semester, will be sponsoring its 11th Annual Poetry Contest Celebrating Black History Month, is supporting CAC’s Reading Club that enters its third semester of existence, and sponsors a Creative Writer’s Workshop that is open to the public.
Additionally, Learning Support continues to work with local high schools, acting as sound boards for their ideas. The office has even gained national exposure, presenting at seminars across the country, showcasing the things that Learning Support at CAC has accomplished.
“Our last presentation, in Louisiana, was so well appreciated,” Campbell stated, “that they have asked us to present at their next conference.”