Summer Practicum

I started my summer practicum a couple of weeks ago. The project is fairly simple. All I have to do is prove that the Academic Success Center’s (ASC) study tables program increases student participants’ final grades. The study table program is really unique. Student tutors are recommended and evaluated/hired by the ASC to tutor small groups of students within specific classes. Classes include: Math 111, Physics, Economics, and my personal favorite – Zoology. Each student tutor (st) attends the same classes as the students that they will tutor. The ST’s take notes and prepare a customized study table session for each class that they are a tutor for. Students then attend weekly study tables on a voluntary basis. There were 9 regular, 1 hour long study table sessions and 2 three hour long final examination study table periods.

The ASC piloted the study table program during Winter term (05). Student’s final grades were amazing. If you attended a study table, your grades improved. The neat part is that they tracked math placement scores and incoming SAT scores as pre tests and the final grades as post tests. The control group consisted of the students that did not attend any study tables.

My experience with this assessment project is really exciting because I get to see results that actually contributed to the retention of students. I’m working with MS Excel, OSU Banner, and that damn Hummingbird application, also known as the Data Warehouse. My skills are really rusty with Banner and Data Warehouse but I’m getting better. It’s frightening when you see what kind of information is collected. The databases are extremely sophisticated. My first day at the ASC, I called the Banner/Data Warehouse support number twice in 2 hours!

There will be a lot of number crunching which you know is not exactly my forte but I am still thrilled to get a solid experience within the ASC. Part of my assessment will be to interview students who were are calling “the Regulars” to see if they have anything to contribute regarding the study tables that the cold, hard numbers do not tell us.

I am well on my way to crunching/digesting the results of all the students at OSU who took Math 111. So far, I’ve run into a few data glitches but nothing that I won’t be able to figure out. I have a lot to do for each class and at this stage in the summer it is going to be a challenge to finish everything before school starts. I have all of my fingers, toes, eyes, and legs crossed. Wish me luck :-)

3 thoughts on “Summer Practicum”

  1. Hi, it’s Cori !!! I miss you so much here at UIC. Everyone does, but I miss you more. Good luck with everything.

  2. Eric…

    I’m interested in the purpose of this assessment project being to prove that ASC’sstudy tables increase student GPAs. It is one thing to start an assessment project or research agenda with a hunch or hypothesis, but what do you think about setting out to “prove” a specific outcome? Challenges or potential problems that may arise as a result?

  3. @ Jessica:

    Good point about the use of language. I went back and read my post that included the part about proving the study table program’s success. I think I started out with a hunch that caused me to have an attitude of optimism with regards to the efficacy of the study tables program. It is definitely a slippery slope when a specific outcome is desired for an assessment project. Thank you for pointing this out to me. I believe that I was objective in my methods and approach. I think that’s the benefit of a practicum experience. You come into an office with a blank slate.

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