For many CSU students, particularly those who haven’t been in a school setting in years, writing papers or mathematics coursework can be scary and daunting. Others may just need a little help with proofing their latest research paper for a master’s course or understanding a particular concept in SLS.
Enter the Student Success Center and its team of 12 staffers. Or as they call themselves: Team SUCCEED, which stands for Students Understanding by Communicating and Collaborating; Engaged in Education by Determination. Students can be referred to a specialist in this department by a teacher or ask for their assistance using myCSU student portal.
“Professors are the first line of contact,” said Stephen Barnett, a math tutor, who helps about 30 students a week. “But we are here to help them and we love working with the students.”
Barnett, a former high school math teacher, works with students via phone, e-mail and the online Blackboard system. He assists students in finite math, algebra, statistics and other math classes. “I get a lot of students who say they haven’t had math in 15 or 20 years. The most common problem, however, is where and how do they get started. They get overwhelmed, so I try to help them understand the first steps and deal with their math anxiety.”
For those struggling with concepts, Barnett may write and solve a problem using a step-by-step method, then scan the paper and forward it by e-mail. He may also go over the problem/solution, usually by phone, to help the student grasp the math.
This type of concern for success is what the director of the Student Success Center Wendy Troup says is key in her specialists.
“The specialists care about each student they cross paths with and want to assist them, as well as the professors, in the best way possible,” she said. “The most important part for the students is the ability to contact someone who cares enough to help provide strategies, but not answers. We want to better each student that crosses the Success Center’s path.”
And students who need assistance in writing tend to cross the department’s path most often. Brooke Howard, who works with students in history, English and composition, says the writing specialists receive about 100 to 120 requests per week.
“We help them with many areas such as grammar, organization, thesis, body, conclusion and APA style because some students aren’t familiar with it or have forgotten it. It’s mainly proofreading,” she said. To request aid with writing a paper, students can fill out a form in the student portal, attach their work and a writing specialist will respond with corrections and suggestions in a scanned copy of the document via e-mail. Howard said that the response time is typically within 48 hours. “We don’t work or change the subject matter or content of the paper,” Barnett said, adding that the team does follow up with students to see if they need more help or have questions about the proofreading.
Speaking of follow up, CSU students working in the online Spanish lab often have an unseen visitor monitoring their progress. “One of the most difficult things for students studying Spanish to understand is that when you’re speaking and writing in Spans, the gender and number stay the same,” says Student Success specialist Monica Marquez. She checks on students in the online lab and if she sees a student in need of aid, or he makes a request, she uses several oral and written methods to help. Marquez employs Wimba Pronto, a learning software program that allows her to chat, share screens or whiteboard to help students with speaking and writing Spanish.
With all these various methods and specialized resources, one might think the department is overwhelmed. Not so, according to Troup. “Only about 2 percent of our student body comes to us in a month’s time period,” she said.
And they want more. “We are in the process of trying to get our names and what we do out there. We will hopefully have a website soon with the student portal,” Troup explained. In the meantime, Troup welcomes students to call on the Student Success Center.
“Contact your professor with your content concerns and please allow the Success Center the ability to provide you with strategies and educational resources to encourage and motivate you and your experience here at CSU,” said Troup.