Communications Center Beats Its Own Record

The Communications Center staff hosted Professor of Reading Karen Cowden’s EAP 0420C class for a reading circle event about the book they’re reading, “Treasure Island.” Mia Sotis, instructional lab assistant, senior, is dressed as a pirate to make a point about pirates with a heart of gold.

By Beth Renn, Dean, Communications

The Communications Center on West Campus (CCWC) has, once again, beaten its previous record of logins, making last year the busiest year yet for the staff in the center.

The staff counts the total number of logins as well as the total number of individual VIDs they see in the lab. In spring 2018 alone, 2,055 students visited the Communications Center lab logging in 20,620 times. Of those students, 863 visited the lab six or more times.

According to the 2017 Community College Survey of Student Engagement (CCSSE) data, 60.2 percent of Valencia students used skill lab services compared with only 42.4 percent in the collegewide cohort. Moreover, students on West Campus reported they used the Communications Center 21.8 percent more than the Academic Success Centers on other campuses.

Junior Jean Louis, former Valencia student and current learning assistant II in the Communications Center, shares what he believes makes such an impact. Bringing both the student and the staff perspective, Junior shares, “I think some students enjoy our resources, because we are on the open floor to help them whenever they have a question. Many students tell me that we are the best, because they know we care about their success. It is so satisfying to hear how we make a positive difference with grades; but more importantly, I think they appreciate how we encourage them not to give up.”

We’ve seen an increase in the number of logins over the past few years as the philosophy of the Communications Center evolved. After seeing the increased number of underprepared students struggling in college-level classes, we decided to open the lab to invite all students who need help with reading, writing or speaking assignments for any class in any degree. And each semester, we see students return to the lab for help with interpreting the assignments and moral support as they face more difficult college assignments.

As faculty in non-writing classes begin to learn more about how to use writing to help students learn content, we’ll continue to see an increase in usage from a wide range of subjects.

Amy Downs, instructional lab supervisor and Communications Center director, believes that each connection with a student is significant: “My staff have all been students, so they understand the challenges and pressures. Often, we may be the only person that daily greets, supports or reminds students that they can reach their goals. Also, we see it as a partnership between faculty and other support teams across the campuses — we are here to help students when they need it most. I am so proud of the connections my staff make with students, so they feel a part of a larger learning community committed to their achievement.”

West Campus students are fortunate to have both the Communications Center lab and the Writing Center in the same space. Amy and Meenawattie Udho, instructional lab supervisor and Writing Center director, have developed a flow to help direct students between the two services. The Communications Center lab staff help students with topics ranging from computer basics to reading and interpreting class assignments. Higher level, more detailed questions will mean the student needs a consultation in the Writing Center. Once the consultation is completed, the student can come back out to the lab floor to practice what they learned.

Although both areas help with writing, it’s important for students to know that we help with reading, speaking and planning as well.

Within the Communications Center, we have the Writing Center, which is a dedicated space that provides individual consultations for students to address more in-depth assignments. Students can sign up online for 30-minute appointments for a professional writing consultant to help learn more about how to accomplish their learning goals. And because the Writing Center is booked two days out, we also offer the Mobile Writing Center in the library and on the Communications Center floor during peak hours for walk-up assistance.

Sponsored by Student Development, the Communications Center and Writing Center staff have hosted two outreach celebrations per year in the Communications Center, which are called our Fall Connection and our Spring Connection. Mid-semester, as students begin to lag and consider dropping classes, the Communications Center and Writing Center staff host writing-, reading- and language-related activities to spur critical thinking and to encourage students to build a sense of community in the space. This past Spring Connection, we served 214 students, up from the second highest semester which was last fall at 190.

As the Communications Center and Writing Center continue to expand their services to include faculty support and programming for students to attend voluntarily outside of their classes, and as our Writing across the Curriculum program expands, we hope to see the CCWC grow. No student should leave Valencia not knowing we have a Writing Center. It has become another safe place on campus where students can ask questions and know that someone will help.

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