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Campus Personnel to Discuss Tutoring Success at Conference


JONESBORO – Tabatha Simpson-Farrow, writing center director, and Kelli Listenbee, learning support services director, at Arkansas State University, will speak online for the Maryland College Learning Center Association (MDCLCA) Conference, “Coming Together: Breaking Silos and Building Cohorts,” for campus learning centers. The 2020 annual conference is Friday, March 20, at the University of Maryland-Baltimore County.

Nine center directors across the campus help to make up the A-State cohort, including Dr. Vicent Moreno, assistant chair and associate professor of Spanish; Porsha McGregor, academic coordinator; Heidi Griffin, instructor of mathematics; Dr. Yeonsang Hwang, interim associate dean of engineering; Matthew Robins, instructor and communication center director; Gwennette Confer, research assistant in student support services; and Abigail Wilson, senior associate athletics director for student services.

Simpson-Farrow and Listenbee will present an abstract that demonstrates work by Blake Simmons, project coordinator for Information Technology Services (ITS); Parker Jones, web development/analyst for ITS; and Eric Coleman, instructional designer for creative services will be emphasized. The directors also collaborated with the entire Office of Assessment. 

“Arkansas State University, like many institutions of higher learning, has recently faced a serious challenge regarding on-campus enrollment and student retention,” stated Listenbee. “Data has shown that tutoring programs across our campus have grown while substantially supporting the university’s retention efforts. We credit this success to a collaborative effort by nine independent tutoring centers to create a co-curricular tutoring cohort. Using collected data, this cohort has increased center efficiency, strengthened faculty buy-in, and invigorated administrative support.”

The cohort’s collaboration with ITS on campus resulted in the creation of TARP (Tutoring and Assessment Reporting Program), a cumulative recording and reporting system. Used as an assessment tool, this system improved in-center efficiency. One substantial benefit has been reviewing common course themes and offering increased supplemental classroom support.

Efforts extend beyond the campus through international certification with the College Reading and Learning Association (CRLA), allowing multiple centers to increase faculty buy-in and involvement by streamlining and legitimizing tutor training. The group worked as a team to build, implement and assess tutoring as a cohort so that each program could report on its successes as well as A-State tutoring. Through cross-training, student tutors are able to represent A-State tutoring as a whole. This promotes clearer lines of communication in referral processes and expanding service accessibility. 

Each of these innovations has culminated in collective reporting to administration, resulting in the availability of space, technology and grant opportunities. Most importantly though, Listenbee noted, are the positive impacts collaboration has had on learning, retention and completion.

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Simpson-Farrow and Listenbee