On Friday, September 9 at 3:00 p.m. on the first floor of Ladd Library, Bates unveiled its new center for educational support. The Student had an opportunity to sit down with the Director of Writing at Bates and Director of the newly founded Academic Resource Commons (ARC), Daniel Sanford, who explained “the change[s] to how Bates approaches tutoring” and outlined how the college has remodeled its structure for academic support.
Dr. Sanford, who taught linguistics and English and worked for the Center for Academic Support at the University of New Mexico for a number of years before coming to Bates in the fall of 2015, wants to streamline Bates’ system.
“Bates has this really long history of providing academic support,” Sanford said, “[but] there have been a lot of differences between what it means to be a peer tutor in different departments.”
The Academic Resource Commons aims to place all of the college’s educational support resources in one place, making it “easier for the students who need help to know where to get it.”
In the past, student affairs would coordinate tutoring for students, while the writing center and Peer Assisted Learning in the Sciences (PALS) were separate entities.
The Academic Resource Commons integrates these programs. Students will now talk with a resource representative at the ARC front desk to determine what support best fits their needs. While tutors are still available to assist students in writing essays or completing science homework, ARC offers a greater variety of support. One-on-one tutoring, group sessions, and learning strategies workshops are among the options available to students.
Dr. Sanford envisions the ARC as a brand new study environment. “Academic Resource Commons [is] a place where [students] can work … instead of doing that stuff alone in your dorm room where you can get stuck, you can do all of those things in [the] ARC space, in the presence of other people who have been through that class and are there to support that work.”
The selection of the physical location was central to this philosophy of bringing together academic support resources, as “ARC tutors are … close to a lot of other support like research librarians and the Help Desk, so whenever students are working in that space they’re just close to whatever support they need.”
The selection process for peer tutors is an intensive one.
“Peer tutors… have been through the coursework that they’re supporting,” Sanford said, “they’ve done well, received a high grade in that course work [and] a nomination from a faculty member to be a tutor for that area, and [have] been through a pretty rigorous application process.”
When asked the most important characteristics in selecting peer educators, Dr. Sanford explained that he prioritized empathy and communication, two traits he’s noticed make a profound difference in academic support.
“A big part of the employment model at the Academic Resource Commons is trust,” Sanford said. “Trust in the peer tutors to figure out, based on their knowledge and expertise, what the best way is to work with that student.”
For those interested in working at the ARC, the hiring process for Fall 2017 will begin in the winter for next fall.
More information on the ARC and upcoming student-run workshops can be at bates.edu/academic-resource-commons.
The ARC’s hours are as follows: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday to Thursday, 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Friday, and from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Sundays.