Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

December 9, 2023

Augustana Implements New Learning Commons

Augustana has a new central location where students can go to get support on academic, personal and leadership issues. Student support resources can now be found collectively on the fourth floor of the Gerber Center in an area named The Learning Commons.
Offices in this cluster include The Reading/Writing Center, Office of Multicultural Student Life, Office of International Student Life (OISL), and Office of Student Life and Leadership. These offices combined into one common area to help students reach all support resources necessary to succeed.
Pareena Lawrence, Augustana Dean of Academic Affairs, said the structure for this conglomeration was in place when the new Gerber Center was constructed. The Reading Writing Center was already centrally located, so the decision to put the other offices around it for easy access was a simple one to make, according to Lawrence.
Another benefit coming from relocating The Learning Commons was the centralizing of the tutoring system. Before The Learning Commons, tutors were spread out across campus in each specific subject’s academic building. Now, all tutors are located in The Learning Commons, meaning students can find help for their classes all in one area. Tutors are also now all trained by the reading writing center.
Having tutors in the area by the Offices of Multicultural and International Student Life is also very beneficial to student not used to the American education system. Lawrence, who grew up in India and came to America for college herself, said that introducing international and multicultural students to American Education early is very important.
“There are so many unwritten expectations, such as how to write a paper, that people just don’t know internationally,” said Lawrence.
Another benefit for international and multicultural students is, is having The Reading/Writing Center near the English as a Second Language (ESL). Placing ESL services near the OISL puts two of the most important resources for international students allows for collaboration between offices to best suit a student’s need.
Yen Dao, the coordinator of student success services, says that students often focus on the class as the issue, when often times it is their study habits. Dao said having these resources in a central location means they can determine the root cause and then send them to the resource that would provide the best solution.
The main goal, according to the directors, is that this conglomerate will be better able to assist students.
“It can help an international student learn English, help a science-specific student write a research paper, or just help students find any form of success,” said Dao. “The opportunities are quite literally endless.”
Lawrence also wanted to make it very clear that these services would be useful for any student. “They aren’t remedial, we all need to ask for help sometimes,” said Lawrence.
Lawrence said the thing she was most excited about for The Learning Commons was that it put a support system in place for every type of student.
“The Student Body is just so diverse that we can’t provide education for a homogenous group,” said Lawrence. “We need to work together to make sure they’re all successful.

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Augustana Implements New Learning Commons