Learning to Learn: Logan's Academic Support Program
When Dale Farris isn’t in class or studying for his Trimester-1 courses, he’s breaking down word problems with fellow students and helping them make connections with the terminology. “I’ll help them understand the meaning of a word and what they need to be thinking when they see it,” he said. “Other times, I’ll put it into baseball terms. I tell them to take the words off the page and
picture what they are working with so they can understand what they are doing.”
For Dale, serving as a tutor for Logan’s academic support program has multiple advantages. He’s not only helping his classmates understand the curriculum, but he’s keeping his skills and knowledge
of the subject sharp.
“Teaching is truly the best way to learn, and as a future chiropractor, learning how to interact and become more comfortable with a group of people, as well as educating them on a concept, is a benefit in and of itself,” he said. “Chiropractors are as much educators as they are care providers.”
The academic support program is a free service to students at Logan College of Chiropractic/University Programs.
Any student who needs extra help is eligible for two hours per week, per subject, of one-on-one individual tutoring, and as much group tutoring assistance as they elect to attend. All tutors are Logan College students who have earned an A or a B in the subject
area and have been recommended by a faculty member.
James Paine, Logan’s dean of student services who oversees the academic support program, said
between 85 and 90 percent of Trimester-1 students have engaged in some form of academic assistance in one or more courses. He said he is thrilled to see that level of participation and interest in academic success early on.
“We encourage everyone to engage in the program for academic support whether you’re trying to transition from a C to a B, or from a B to an A,” he said, “and we’ve had some students who
have shown tremendous term-over-term progress.”
And he’s been working to change the culture and perception surrounding the academic support program for the past year.
One student, he said, who was struggling academically in the spring was noncommittal to tutoring and had difficulty with accepting the idea of receiving extra help. After she decided to join
the program, she not only brought her grades up, but was taken off academic probation.
“Right now, some perceive tutoring as there’s something wrong with me,” Paine said. “I regularly meet with students around mid-terms, and often times I see that they are struggling. I ask, ‘why didn’t you attend tutoring?’ and find they are squeamish about asking for help. We’ve been working to break down these barriers so students see academic support more as a supplement to classroom instruction, as opposed to a desperate situation.”
Teaching about Tutoring
Paine and his department staff have focused on making students more aware of the academic rigors associated with the chiropractic program before they begin classes at Logan.
“We are trying to tear down the stigmas associated with seeking help and getting the upper-course-level students to embrace the tutoring program and enjoy the kind of success we’ve facilitated for
the early trimester students,” he said.
So far, these outreach efforts have paid off for student Hazel Aberdeen who heard about the academic support program during orientation.
The Trimester-2 student said she decided
to try the program during the second half of Trimester-1 and now receives one-on-one support, as well as group tutoring, for her physiology, gross anatomy II and neuroanatomy classes.
Hazel said the program helped her develop the appropriate study skills needed to succeed at Logan.
“My tutor is great because he is a jack of all trades,” she said. “He tutors me for all three subjects.”
Hazel said she recommends the program to others and urges those who may feel embarrassed about academic assistance to give it a try.
“I think because the majority of students are younger, they are still influenced by peer pressure so they might not be inclined to use the tutoring services provided by Logan,” she said. “But the program shows that Logan cares about the success of each of their
students and they are willing to provide everything that is possible to make that happen.”
The fact that the program is free says a lot about Logan’s commitment to students from a financial standpoint.
“It is highly uncommon for chiropractic colleges to offer free tutoring to the degree that we offer it, which is the two hours per week, per subject for the entire student community,” said Paine. “More than anything it shows Logan’s commitment to student achievement and academic success for students to matriculate through the program. Our stance is that students never have to pay to strengthen their positions academically.”
Committed to Student Success
In academic year 2009-10, nearly 6,000 hours of tutoring were provided to 430 Logan students. The program is available for all subjects, primarily where students have expressed interest in tutoring and in core subject areas of the accelerated science program through Trimester 7.
Each peer tutor is evaluated by their students at the end of the trimester in a number of areas, including availability and perceived knowledge of the course content. Paine said while he’s received an overwhelming positive response, one of his goals is to give a more critical eye to the evaluation process and make sure student tutors are being asked the right questions.
“It’s a valuable tool for the student tutors as far as learning how to instruct someone else, in much of the same way a chiropractor instructs and educates new patients,” he said. “In that way, their
involvement in this program will allow them to jump ahead of others who didn’t have that experience.”
For Dale Ferris, peer tutoring has proved to be a lesson in time management. He dedicates anywhere from eight to 10 hours a week of tutoring, not to mention the time he spends in class and
While his tutoring schedule varies, often it starts out busier at the beginning of the trimester and tapers off as students acclimate to the subject and study requirements. “It can get pretty busy, and sometimes I have to meet with students on weekends or evenings, but it all seems
to work out,” he said.
Dale said he looks forward to tutoring during the rest of his time at Logan and to promoting the benefits of academic support. “It’s a great program and we’ve
received very positive responses.”