AARC sets focus on retention

Brittany Eldridge

The Academic Advising and Retention Center brought in some new changes following the beginning of the 2014 fall semester. The Learning Center, dorms and the Fine Arts Center will no longer have monitored study halls. Russell Curley, director of AARC, said the AARC is all about retention.

“We have a limited budget,” he said.  “And so we have to decide what we can and can’t afford. We’ve had to make some cuts and so we looked at all of our program, and the monitored study hall was a passive program.”  

Most of the students that came to the monitored study hall were required to attend, but most didn’t make an appearance. 

“Students resented it,” Curley said. “It was very inconvenient for them.”

Upon looking at the programs offered at the AARC, Curley said that the monitored study halls didn’t serve the entire student body, and with DSU having a new 24-hour study lounge, they were cut. 

“It was a decision on priorities,” he said.

The AARC has decided to transform the former study hall into an Active Learning Lab. The lab will consist of a series of competency-based workshops offered to students in areas like academic planning, study skills, test taking skills and other programs that can help students handle academic difficulty.

“We wanted our programs to be more proactive,” Curley said. 

Competency-based means that the AARC will actually teach the students skills that are a part of the workshop and they will have the opportunity to demonstrate those learned skills. 

“They (workshops) will become the main components of BEP (Best Expectations Programs) and STEPS (Success Through Evaluation, Placement, and Support),” Curley said.

BEP and STEPS are programs AARC offers to help students with academics.

Another of these changes was the decision to re-evaluate the tutoring program. Christopher Jensen, associate director of AARC, said that the goal is to make the largest impact as possible for the tutoring programs. 

“We’re looking at the courses that are high enrollment and high need for students, and we’re going to start catering more towards those,” Jensen said.  

AARC also plans to introduce group tutoring. If students are struggling to get an appointment, then they can do groups of five. Jensen said that in the long term the AARC hopes to be able to serve students better.  

“It’s more about retention, student success and teaching them,” he said. “It’s what’s needed for them to be successful here at WKU.”