Starting the fall of 2016, a new service—the Academic Resource Commons (ARC)—will replace the current one-on-one peer tutoring service available to students. The ARC will be located in the Ladd Library on the first floor and will occupy the space between the writing center, the lounge area by the stairs and the restrooms. The furniture that was in Ladd over the past two weeks marks the general area of ARC.
The Student sat down with Daniel Sanford, the new Director of Writing of ARC at Bates, and French Professor and Associate Dean Kirk Read to discuss the purpose and goals of the ARC program and the impact it hopes to have on students. This article was edited for clarity and length.
Bates Student: What are the goals the Academic Resource Commons wants to achieve and what prompted you to start this program?
Daniel Sanford: The ARC will change the model of peer tutoring at Bates College. In a way, the college has a really nice peer tutoring program that is offered through the Writing Center and the Mathematics and Statistics Workshops, for it serves as a great model for students helping other students. However, the downside of tutoring at Bates is that many see it as something that is not relevant to them and their studies. This is especially true for upperclassmen and students in certain academic disciplines. Another flaw is that a student has to know a lot about where to go to get support and whether or not the tutoring is offered in a department or another service. The ARC, in short, pulls everything together into one center. It is one place for students to go when they are looking for support in their courses or really any aspect of their academics.
The goal of the ARC is to eliminate the current model of peer tutoring where it is two people in the basement, where one student is the expert and the other student plays the role of the non-expert. ARC is not about that; it is about hiring students into good student employment positions where they are student leaders who are trained in peer tutoring pedagogy and then put in a role to facilitate interactions between groups of students.
Kirk Read: The ARC and Faculty Commons for Learning and Teaching are under the Collaborate for the Engaged Liberal Arts (CELA) umbrella, which is an initiative of President Clayton Spencer. I am in charge of the Faculty Commons, which deals with faculty development in all kinds of ways, such as orientation for new faculty, first-year seminar development and the short-term course redesigns. The ARC, on the other hand, is the student facing side and it is a resource that is led by Daniel Sanford. It will have a physical space, unlike the Faculty Commons, in the library. It has a radically new approach to student tutoring services. The tutor is a facilitator instead of a sage, but they will be trained and they will know how to approach this.
BS: How will the tutors be chosen?
DS: We are working on finding our group for the fall. The people, who are the best fit as tutors, are people who are good students, are doing well in their studies and have gotten through their courses and learned something about getting through the course. That means that the people who are getting hired as peer tutors recently went through that class and mastered a few strategies that they can impart to their peers. It is also critical to have someone with great empathy and communication.
BS: How will you be promoting the workshops to attract students?
DS: There is a new website, the academic resource commons website which will feature all upcoming workshops and events we are putting up. The calendar is not just a place where we advertise our own programming, instead we are bringing together everything—any academically oriented student workshop can be found on these calendars. Secondly, when students come to the ARC in Ladd library, they will find resource representatives sitting at the desk who can work with them and answer any questions they may have.
KR: We have to be obvious. First-year seminars and other courses may schedule office hours there and we hope that it will become a popular, lively place to seek help. There has to be a reason and a value in going there. There will be announcements going out, but it will mainly be through the professors and the classes.
For further inquiries and more information, students are encouraged to attend the Student Forum on the Academic Resource Commons, which will be held on Friday the 25 from 12 to 1:30 pm in Commons 221/222.