Friday, September 11, 2015
If You Build It, They Will Come
All of us in academic support and bar prep offer a variety of resources to our students. At times it is discouraging that fewer students than we hoped took advantage of a particular service that was offered.
But wait. Do we need 100% participation for an event or resource to have a positive impact? Sure, it is great if we can have mandatory programs. But few of us have that luxury for all students and usually have only a portion of our students who are required to attend.
Some students will complain that they are adults and argue against mandatory events. They would argue it is their choice to decide what to attend, what to access on-line, what to pick up as a hard-copy packet, or what to hit the delete button on. Until their grades flip them into a narrow mandatory category of at risk/probation, these students want to decide independently on their academic actions - not just whether to use ASP or bar prep resources but whether they will read for class or go to see a professor for assistance.
Mandatory versus voluntary is an on-going question because the students who most need to use resources often are the ones who do not use them. We all have students on probation who comment that they wish they had used resources the prior semester/year/years. The reasons why they did not use resources run the gamut: thought they were doing fine; thought everyone else needed the help but not them; did not like the day/time the workshop was held; forgot about the resources; had boyfriend/girlfriend/family/medical/work/other issues; could not find the office; did not want anyone to know they were struggling; were just lazy.
ASP'ers offer a variety of resources and formats to provide services in ways that might appeal to different learners and student needs. Below are just of few of the common options we offer:
- Voluntary summer programs
- Mandatory summer programs
- On-line summer programs
- Live workshops
- Videoed workshops
- For-credit courses - voluntary or mandatory
- Non-credit courses - voluntary or mandatory
- Writing across the curriculum with an ASP component
- Mandatory study groups
- Voluntary study groups
- Upper-division teaching assistants/teaching fellows/tutors
- Facebook information
- Twitter information
- Internet and intranet web pages
- Email study tips
- Official law school announcements
- Stand-alone ASP/bar prep workshops
- Workshops with student organization co-sponsors
- Workshops with bar review company co-sponsors
- Electronic packets of topical information
- Hard copy packets of topical information
- PowerPoint slide shows
- Formats with exercises, pair-and-share, and more
- Student panels on topics
- Faculty panels on topics
- Links to Internet resources
- And more
Boosting attendance? Food bribes work well until the budgets are cut (or students complain about too much pizza). Door prizes work well until the swag becomes same old-same old. And so forth.
So, here is the reality. 100% is not the only measure that matters. Having a positive impact for the students who choose a particular format/resource is legitimate. By providing options for a variety of consumers, we reach students where they are and when they want to partake.
My survey last spring on academic success resources reminded me that there are more students using resources each day than I may realize. There are a lot of "silent consumers" out there who use digital/hard copy packets and intranet/email resources; they just are not as visible as those who want appointments or attend workshops. The survey registered their appreciation for academic success services. It was a good reminder that options are important. The impact on each individual student through less visible methods was just as important an impact. (Amy Jarmon)