New Learning Commons program focuses on at-risk students
A new academic coaching program has been established to provide an expanded academic support system for students who are at risk academically or have a
formally diagnosed learning disability.
The program, called Academic Coaching, is the result of collaboration between the Learning Commons and the School of Intervention Services.
As director of the Learning Commons, Mark Nelson had noticed a population of students who needed more than the academic subject tutoring that the program
traditionally provides. Some of the students had an identified learning and/or attention-related disability, and others were struggling with the strategies
needed to be successful in their courses.
He asked intervention services faculty member Dr. Brooks Vostal, a member of the Learning Commons' advisory board, to help develop an Academic Coaches
program to address the needs of these students.
"It was clear that the coaches would be asked to deliver services similar to the best practices of intervention specialists in K-12 settings," Vostal said.
"So I was excited to work with Learning Commons staff to initiate this service for BGSU students."
The coaches must go through four, hourlong training sessions developed by Nelson, Vostal and his intervention services colleague Dr. David Hampton. The
first session helps the coaches "understand the nature of learning disabilities." They discuss explicit instruction, which is a system that can be highly
effective for students both with and without learning disabilities.
Additionally, Vostal demonstrates the use of explicit instruction to model time management skills and reading comprehension strategies. During the final
session, the coaches learn how to access the appropriate campus resources.
Currently there are seven students - six intervention specialist majors and a graduate student in education - who are trained to be academic coaches. These
individuals are trained to "make the covert behaviors that lead to academic success overt to their clients," Vostal explained.
They are taught to focus on skills that lie outside subject-specific tutoring, teaching strategies that will be helpful throughout college and beyond. The
coaches are trained to listen to students' concerns and respond by demonstrating the strategies that may lead to success. They also have the ability to
capitalize on the peer relationship.
"We anticipate that students who request coaching will appreciate this focused, strategy-oriented relationship with a peer coach as a supplement to their
interactions with faculty and staff across the University," Vostal said.
For more information about the program or how to recommend students for services, or for students who might be interested in becoming a coach, contact the
Learning Commons at firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-372-2823.