‘Study coaches’ among student success initiatives at Wright State

Photo of Dontaé Evans getting advice from his study coach, Daniella Marcano.

Dontaé Evans gets advice from his study coach, Daniella Marcano.

Finding the time to study and studying effectively are imperative for students to succeed in college. One way to gain these skills is by learning from fellow students who have mastered them. A new Learning Strategies course at Wright State University uses “study coaches” to facilitate just that.

“They’re über-tutors working one on one with students,” said Tim Littell, assistant dean for programming in University College, who teaches the course. Research shows that peer-to-peer relationships affect retention. The course is just one example of many initiatives across campus to improve academic success and help meet a statewide goal of producing more graduates with bachelor’s degrees to meet future workforce demands.

Modeled after the Athletics “study tables,” which have proven successful in increasing student performance and retention, the program is receiving positive feedback. “We hope to expand to an army of study coaches all over campus,” Littell said.

Senior Daniella Marcano jumped at the chance to be one of the first study coaches Fall Semester. “A study coach is someone who should mentor students and not necessarily be their tutor and do their homework for them,” explained Marcano, an English major who plans to be a high school teacher. She shared how she studies effectively and helped her four students figure out good study habits that work for them. Together, they examine what’s distracting them from studying and find ways to eliminate those things.

“I’m definitely better at studying,” said Dontaé Evans, a sophomore majoring in athletic training, who took the course, which included weekly meetings with Marcano. He said he now takes better notes and also takes advantage of other student success opportunities, such as extra credit, study groups and supplemental instruction.

“College isn’t just school, it’s a lifestyle,” said Maggie Demarse, a senior study coach majoring in middle childhood education.

Johnnie Wilson, a study coach who is pursuing a Master of Humanities, believes in paying it forward. “I have always appreciated the help I received from my professors throughout my college life. The information and studying tactics they provided to me were a tremendous reason why I succeeded in college,” he explained.

The study coaches benefit, as well. “I have learned more about myself as an aspiring teacher,” said Demarse, who is able to apply concepts she is learning in class. “I enjoy receiving news that a client has aced a test or received an ‘A’ on a paper,” Wilson acknowledged. “But most importantly, I am happy to learn of a student succeeding in all facets of their life.”

All constituencies on campus—faculty, staff, administration and the Board of Trustees—are contributing to a campus-wide culture that is even more committed to student success. The focus is to provide curricular innovation and academic support that provide an environment for all students, not just those at risk, to improve their performance. The faculty has been providing curricular leadership through the activities and resolutions of the Faculty Senate.

Other student success initiatives include:

• Faculty-led First Year Seminars so students can develop relationships with faculty earlier

• Learning communities with more linkages to first-year courses

• Proactive intervention for at-risk students

• Mandatory intervention for students on probation

• Stretch mathematics course, which allows students to enroll in college credit courses rather than developmental courses

• Teaching innovation grants

• Joint-enrollment and collaborative programs with local community colleges

• Construction of a new building that will bring together student success programs and services, and student-centered active learning classrooms, is slated to begin at the end 2012.

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