In Episode 66 of the CSUSB Advising Podcast, Matt Markin chats with Dr. Amanda Rice, Director of the Academic Centers for Excellence. What academic support resources are offered to you? What types of tutoring, coaching, and supplemental instruction are available?
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Hello and welcome, as always to the CSUSB advising podcast we are at episode 66. My name is Matt Markin, an academic advisor here at Cal State San Bernardino. And on this episode, we're going to learn more about some of the academic resources offered to you the CSUSB student. So without further ado, let's welcome Dr. Amanda Rice, the director of the Academic Centers for Excellence. Amanda, welcome.
Thank you so much. I'm happy to be here. Thank you for the invitation.
Yeah, thanks for agreeing to be here. And let's start with the first question. Let's learn a little bit more about you. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your journey in higher ed and being at CSUSB?
Yeah, most definitely. So I think I kind of consider myself a lifer of CSUSB. And that I have been a student here as well as now, you know, working as a staff member, I was reflecting upon this the other day, and I'm coming up on close to 20 years of working on campus. And when I actually started my journey as a student, so 20 years would be 2024, to give you some exact insight into the number of years and don't try to guess my age, please. Just kidding. But yeah, so I started as a freshman here in 2004. And I went through my undergraduate completing my bachelor's in business management. I then went on to do my MBAs, I did two MBAs here as well, one in business management and another in marketing management. And then once I finished that, I was still at a point where I was kind of unsure of the direction I was gonna go career wise, which I think a lot of students can relate to. And I like to share this with students because a lot of times we feel like we have to have things figured out early on. And just to give you insight into my journey, I was coming at the end of my master's degrees, and still unsure kind of of what I wanted to do or the direction I wanted to go. And so you know, spending a lot of time reflecting and thinking about what that looks like. It was I had like a light bulb moment one day and realized I was already in the field that I wanted to continue to be in, which was education. I had started working at Cal State San Bernardino, as a freshman, my very first term here, I was fortunate to get a job on campus in the office of advising and academic services, helping with the reception duties at that time. And so once I kind of had that lightbulb moment, and it just kind of felt right in my in my soul like this is this is my purpose education. This is where I want to be is specifically higher education. I then went on to decide to to complete my doctorate degree in Educational Leadership, which I also completed here at Cal State San Bernardino. So that's why I say a lifer. And that I did all of my degrees here and then simultaneously worked on campus through student employment, and then eventually transitioning over to staff roles in various capacities, administrative testing, supplemental instruction, advising, and then now with my current role as the director of the academic centers for excellence, supporting our academic support programs for undergrad students. So that's kind of it in a nutshell. But yeah, coming up on close to 20 years of working on campus, and about maybe 13-14 years of that, also, completing my education here.
Yeah, just to think of all the knowledge that you've gained from being here that you're able to share with students and especially in your role as director, and I guess that's a great segue to the next question is, you're the director for the Academic Centers for Excellence. So how would you describe that to a student?
Sure. So when you hear our name, you probably are, well, what the heck is that and you might see or hear the acronym ACE, which is what we go by, for short, but it basically is houses our undergraduate academic support programs that we offer through ASUA, Academic Success Undergraduate Advising. So we have six centers or six departments that fall under the academic centers for excellence. We have our academic testing center, we have our supplemental instruction program, our writing centers, which includes our undergraduate Writing Center, as well as our graduate Writing Center. We have our tutoring program. We have math coaching, and then we have our Student Success Studio also known as S3, you might hear that as well. And that's located at our Palm Desert campus. And within S3, we offer tutoring we offer writing support and we offer coaching For our transfer students out there, so yeah, a lot of just that academic support to kind of help students, you know, be successful during their time here within their studies at Cal State San Bernardino.
So a lot of resources just right there, can you go into like a little bit more detail describing maybe some of those resources?
Sure. So with our academic testing office, that is a support for any students that might need to maybe make up a test. So maybe you had a test or an exam, something came up, and you were able to work out opportunity with your professor to make up the tests at an later time, you would do that through our office, that typically is initiated by your professor. So if you find that you need to miss an exam, you can contact your professor, let them know that our services available, and then they would reach out to us to coordinate a time and that service is available online. So you could do like a Zoom test, or in person in our center in University Hall. We have our math coaching support. That's led by math instructor here, Professor Wentworth, who's had many, many years of teaching various math courses here at Cal State San Bernardino. So if you ever find that maybe you're struggling a little bit and understanding some concepts in your math courses, want to go over some additional material, or maybe just need some help and how do I study? How do I write notes for this, you know, kind of that study skills piece, Professor Wentworth is available for math coaching, and he's, he's really great. Students always have positive things to say after working with him. And getting that individual support that sometimes we need within those math courses that we may not get in a large lecture. With our tutoring center that's located here in University Hall on the third floor, we offer tutoring and various subjects tends to vary term by term because the tutoring is peer based tutoring. So depending on the peers that we have available, their availability with their schedule in between classes. The the term schedule can vary, but some example courses, biology, chemistry, math, statistics, physics, computer science, nursing, and then we also have a study skills tutor that can assist with once again, that piece of how do I study? How do I take notes? What are different learning strategies for me to be able to learn the material, understand the material retain the material. So with tutoring, those appointments are available as well in person and online. And then moving on to our supplemental instruction program. With supplemental instruction, we have what we call SI leaders who are students that have gone through these courses themselves. were successful in those courses as far as their grades and learning the material. And they're embedded in our actual course in the lecture course. So they attend the lectures just as students do. And then prepare lessons different learning strategies for students within the SI sessions to kind of further you know, help students understand the material and grasp the material. SI sessions are typically twice a week for about an hour. And like I said, They're led by that SI leader who attends the lecture course as well. And typically, those are small courses, usually, we limit them to about 20 students. So you have that small group kind of learning experience within within SI. With our writing center, we have our writing consultants who are available to help students and faculty and staff with any writing needs that you may have. So any stage that you may be within the writing process they're available to assist with that. So maybe you need help with outlining for a paper or maybe you have a paper or an essay completed, but maybe need another set of eyes to look over and provide guidance on structure or maybe some MLA, APA kind of guidance. They're available for that as well. And then our final resource is our Student Success Studio at PDC. Which pretty much overlaps with a lot of the services I just mentioned, but we have tutoring available for our PDC students at that campus as well. PDC students can access any support services that we have at the San Bernardino campus remotely. So tutoring that we offer in San Bernardino, writing, consulting, math support, all of those services are also available to our PDC campus. So we have tutoring writing consultant and then like I mentioned the academic coaching piece which we have our college possible coaches out at our PDC Campus whose support transfer students specifically, just helping navigate the campus resources, providing different workshops or just points of connection for students to engage with their campus out there.
It's nice to know that there's resources that you oversee, that are being at both the San Bernardino and also the Palm Desert campus. So essentially, every student has an opportunity to be able to utilize these different resources. Now, you explained perfectly I think, with a lot of these resources, especially the tutoring, the coaching, and the Supplemental Instruction, or SI, but you might have, you might have some students that are still kind of thinking like, what is the difference between all of those? Because I understand that all of these resources want to help me whether it's tutoring coaching, or SI, but how would you, like describe the differences between those for students?
Yeah, so there is definitely you know, overlap between supplemental instruction, tutoring math coaching, but there are some key differences between those services, as well. So I would say like tutoring promotes more of like that individual learning and confidence building. You as a student are coming in for tutoring for maybe a specific question that you have, or a specific course that you'd like some additional assistance with. So you're kind of leading that right, you're coming in for whatever you might need specific help with, versus our supplemental instruction program, our SI leaders are going based off of what's being lectured in the course. So they're creating lesson plans or creating different learning strategies or different possibilities or opportunities as far as what can help students understand that material. So it's more based on what's being lectured in the course, versus tutoring, like I mentioned, you're kind of coming in for maybe a specific need that you might have. So I would say that's probably the biggest difference between the two, because at the end of the day, learning strategies are being shared between both modes, both mediums. Both of them are pure lead, so pure lead tutoring, and pure lead SI sessions. The other I think key difference with SI is, it's twice a week for an hour at that designated time and that designated day of the week, right. Whereas tutoring, you have that option to come in whatever works for your schedule based on what's available for tutoring in those areas. So you could come in as a walk in and you can make an appointment. But that's really based around your schedule, whereas the SI session is a carved out time during the week that you would attend. for that. As far as math coaching, like I mentioned, there's overlap, because you are still strategizing and getting that support within math courses that you would get with tutoring with SI, I think the biggest difference with math coaching, is you're also getting that study skill support. So how to take notes for your math course, maybe some strategies or tools on time management or organization of your your coursework, you know, and then also skills that you can transfer across disciplines. So not necessarily just within your math courses, but these types of skills you can continue to use in other courses that you have to help you be successful in those courses. So I would say that's probably the biggest difference with math coaching, in comparison to tutoring or SI.
Alright, great. Thank you so much. And with these resources for students, if they're interested, like well, maybe I want to utilize this, is it by appointment drop in online in person?
Yeah. So every area is, is a little different. But I would say overall, we have availability, virtually as well as in person to kind of break it down a little more specifically, our SI sessions are either in person or they are online. So if you were to go to our website CSUSB and then a hyphen supplemental instruction, you'll be able to see the schedule right there on the first page and it'll break it down by the course subject and then it'll show you okay, this course is fully online or this course is in person and it'll show you the respective location as well as the Zoom link for tutoring for both our PDC S3 Center as well as tutoring here at San Bernardino. We offer both online and in person. Our in person tutoring, you can schedule an appointment ahead of time or you can just walk in. So, if you look at our schedule on our homepage, and you find okay I'm available at this time when there's biology tutoring available. You can walk in and seek support at that time. If you needed a virtual appointment, then that's when you would want to schedule an appointment, which once again, if you were on our homepage, you would find the instructions on how to schedule an appointment with our with our area, writing centers similar to tutoring, and that we have Zoom tutoring available for writing as well as in person. And then we also have email tutoring or eating email writing support. That was something that emerged as well during kind of the pandemic time, and something that we've continued on and just kind of providing that support via email. But once again, for appointments, you'll need to schedule with our online system. If you go to our website, once again, it's right there, instructions on how to schedule and our actual schedule there as well. And what am I missing math coaching, so for math coaching, that is also available, virtually and in person. And for that you could either go to Professor Wentworth office in the library, second floor, or you can reach out to him via email, and he'll find a time that works between mutually between the two of you, whether that's on Zoomor in person.
Awesome. And we'll make sure to also include a lot of these links in the show notes as well. And based off what you've already said, you know, I think you already kind of show why a student would want to use these resources. But let's say you have a scene that's on the fence of I don't know if I should or shouldn't, what would be your advice of why students should take advantage of these resources that are offered?
Definitely I think the biggest thing is understanding that these resources are available for you. And wanting to you know, take advantage of what in essence you're paying for through your tuition or your campus fees. Why not take advantage of the resources that are here to help support you be successful within your courses, be able to pass maybe a course that you're struggling with, that you need to be able to move on and progress through your major. We're here. We want to support you and assist you. So I think bottom line is, they're here you pay for them, definitely take advantage. But I know that there is sometimes maybe a shyness that maybe a student might have or maybe feel a little uncomfortable seeking out the resource. In essence, you are maybe meeting with a peer, whether that's a tutor or SI leader that you don't know, right? And so you kind of have to break down a little bit of that, getting to know that person or feeling a little bit of comfort, to say, Hey, I'm struggling, you know, can you help me in this area. But I think what helps is, our programs are peer led. So they're led by students just like all of you. And I think sometimes we might struggle or have maybe not have as much confidence to raise our hand in the class or go to the professor after class, it takes a little time to build that skill up, or to build that confidence up to do that. Whereas maybe as a student, you feel a little more comfortable to go to another student, another peer that has gone through that course and was successful, and get their help and assistance with it. So I think I always like to share with students, it's a judgment free zone, nobody's here is here to judge you or to say, This person is struggling, that's never the case. I pride myself in that I really feel all of our coordinators, directors in our areas have really created a very welcoming and safe space for students to come in and seek this support. So I can say that in full confidence that as you as a student, if you're unsure of what you might be met with, when you go to tutoring or writing support, I can say with confidence that you will instantly feel a level of safety and just comfort being there. And like, oh, you know what, this wasn't as bad as maybe I made it in my mind to be a little a little scary, right. So I encourage you if you've ever had thoughts of maybe visiting one of our centers, but maybe talk yourself out of it to just push through that little bit of fear or uncertainty. And I promise you'll be met with, you know, supportive students that want to support you and help you within your courses, as well as supportive coordinators, directors that really go out of their way and take the time to make sure that you as a student lead with what you need, you know, make that connection with you to make you feel comfortable to want to come back and seek out those services. So I felt like that was a little all over the place. But I always just like to stress that to students because I know even myself as a student when I went through undergrad times and even you know, in my graduate times, there was times where I was struggling academically, but I was fearful to go and seek out those resources. I felt maybe a little bit of shame. But then I remember I had some men tours and some folks on campus who pushed me and said no, you know, go go visit tutor and go visit Writing Center. And once I did, I realized that I just build up thoughts and ideas in my head that really, you know, weren't weren't true. And I was met with welcoming tutors and welcoming staff that really, you know, helped me to, to be successful in my courses. And I think the other piece is making a connection with other people on campus. So whether you realize it or not, with tutoring or Mac coaching or supplemental instruction, you're now engaging with other peers or other staff that maybe relationships come out of whether that's, you know, a professional or personal relationship. But you have now maybe a friend that you can call upon once the term is over, that you can get together with on campus, and maybe lunch. And you know, that little things like that matter, for the success of all of us as students to just feel like we have a place where we can connect, and maybe hang out and study and just feel, you know, comfort and comfortable and safe. So I would say yeah, I mean, I know, there's a lot of various other reasons out there as to why, you know, students should take advantage or you utilize the resources, but I feel those are probably the most important reasons as far as what I believe are my experiences as a student, but also working with students at my time here at Cal State San Bernardino.
Yeah. And I'm glad that you gave your experience because then students know that you're not just saying that, you know, you actually experienced it, you have certain thoughts, but once you actually started using, like, let's say, the tutor in writing center, like, oh, I should have been using this all along. Yeah, and I liked that you you said that is a judgment free zone. And I think I'm going to start using that as well.
But a lot of great advice regarding a lot of the resources that are offered through your area and that students that hey, these you're paying for this already with your campus fee, so it's nothing extra that you're paying for. But Dr. Rice, thank you so much for being on the podcast today. Of course.
Thank you so much for having me. It was great.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai