Monday, March 11, 2019

Thank You St. Mary's for Hosting SWCASP

St. Mary's did an excellent job hosting SWCASP and the UBE conference last week.  Zoe Niesel and Mike Barry put together a great slate of presenters and provided awesome Texas food staples.  I wasn't able to make the UBE portion, but I will pass along a synopsis of the SWCASP presentations in case you missed it.

The theme this year was collaboration, and the presenters showcased a range of collaboration ideas.  I personally liked the theme and ideas because I take on more classes, projects, etc. than reasonably possible.  The ideas were great for trying to get others to also use academic support to help students.

Zoe and Mike started the workshop with a discussion of how they integrated ASP with the 1L LRW class.  Instead of having a LRW class and a separate ASP skills class, they combined the two into one class.  They created consistent dialogue and terminology for students.  The collaboration also influenced more of the 1L curriculum.  

Halle Hara described a great way to get different departments discussing student needs.  She created a committee consisting of everyone with individual student interactions.  The committee meets once a month to discuss specific student needs.  I saw 2 big takeaways from this presentation.  The first was the committee created communication channels to provide context to everyone helping students in his/her office.  The second takeaway was how to make referrals more efficient.  I send students to other people throughout campus for financial aid help, discussions with Associate Dean, etc.  However, following up with every other administrator is difficult.  The committee is able to quickly determine if students followed up with the referral.

Jacquelyn Rogers uses outside professionals to help her students more effectively.  She brings in performance coaches to help with attention training and mindsets.  Listening to her, I immediately thought about issues we see in millennial students and how an outside professional could help our students thrive.  I also liked that her mental health professional was setup in a suite type setting with other offices so students could not tell who other students were visiting.

Wendy Scott, Mindy Cyr, Charles Splawn, and Jenny Lane discussed Elon's program for inter-department interaction.  Their bar mentorship program is much better than the mentor programs I tried in the past.  Faculty, alumni, and career services are paired with students to help them throughout bar prep.  Students can send essays or ask general questions throughout the summer.  Faculty hold in-person or call in office hours for specific subjects.  The substance paired with the general checking in seems to generate more participation.  I definitely want to use a few of these ideas to get more individual student interaction with faculty during the summer.

Preyal Shah and Meijken Westenskow demonstrated a great self-assessment exercise.  Their exercise used different colored highlighters for the different sections of an essay answer (pink for rule, blue for conclusion, etc.).  Students would highlight each sentence of both their work and a model answer.  The visual differences help students see where they need to improve.  UNT uses this exercise 1L year and returns to it during the 3L bar prep class to help self-assessment during summer months.

Cassie Christopher presented her upcoming article titled "Normalizing Struggle."  Her presentation and subsequent paper describes how students should struggle through the learning process and how we can help approach teaching to help students understand struggle is normal.  She referenced an article I will definitely read titled "Unskilled and Unaware of it."  That article describes the challenges and deficiencies of current education, which is now our incoming students.

The next session included a panel moderated by Sara Berman.  Sara asked Jennifer Carr and Staci Rucker questions about how academic support could team with student affairs.  They discussed the need to help students with issues beyond academics.  Working with student affairs, ASPers could focus on academics while still helping with other issues that affect academics.  Student affairs professionals can use their contacts with financial aid and other departments to help with all aspects of students' experience.

The last panel finished the collaboration theme with Marsha Griggs, Goldie Pritchard, Toni Miceli, and Cassie Christopher discussing their victories and mistakes working with faculty, commercial vendors, and students.  It is always good to see that others have similar struggles with different constituencies within the law school.  They had great ideas for getting faculty involved from small efforts of holding office hours during the summer to providing short lectures.  Toni's commercial vendor guidelines are great if you are looking to create new guidelines for vendors on campus.

Just like every year, SWCASP was a blast.  I have a list of ideas to consider for the summer and next year.  If any of the programs sound interesting, definitely contact the presenter.  They are all open to discussing their programs further.  As many of us know, don't reinvent the wheel each year.  Use others successes (and failures) to help your students.

(Steven Foster)

 

 

 

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