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The Road to Becoming a Center of Excellence


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Institute H: The Road to Becoming a Center of Excellence
Thursday, October 8, 9:00 am - 12:00 p.m., Executive C D
Lisa D'Adamo-Weinstein, Director, Academic Support
Northeast Center of SUNY Empire State College

Elaine Richardson, Retired Director, Academic Success Center
Clemson University

Laura Sanders, Assistant Dean, Student Success, College of Engineering
Valparaiso University
The purpose of the Centers of Excellence Designation Program is to:
 promote professional standards of excellence for learning centers;
 encourage centers to develop, maintain and assess quality programs and services to enhance student learning;
 honor the history of established and unique learning centers; and
 celebrate the outstanding achievements of centers that meet and exceed these standards.
This post-conference institute will walk participants through the rationale for the creation of the designation program;
review the criteria for evaluation and discuss the steps for completing an application. We will also share insights
gathered during the first two rounds of applications reviews to assist participants in developing a clear plan for how
they can best put together their own application

Published in: Education
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The Road to Becoming a Center of Excellence

  1. 1. The Road to Becoming a Center of Excellence Lisa D’Adamo-Weinstein Laura Sanders M. Elaine Richardson NCLCA Subcommittee for Learning Centers of Excellence Project
  2. 2. Developing the Learning Centers Of Excellence Program Inspired by the works of Frank Christ, Council on Advancement of Standards in Higher Education, and John Gardner, NCLCA has developed seven major categories and subsets of those categories by which centers will be evaluated. ● Christ, F. L. (2009). Best and Promising Practices for Learning Support Centers: A Handout for Workshop at NCLCA Conference in Golden, CO on October 3, 2009. ● Council on Advancement of Standards in Higher Education (CAS) website to review and purchase the standards - ● Model for the Centers of Excellence was Institutions of Excellence in the First College Year -
  3. 3. Purpose The Learning Centers of Excellence is conferred upon those outstanding learning centers which demonstrate excellence by exceeding professional learning center best practices in seven areas.
  4. 4. Seven Major Categories for Evaluation I. Programs and Services (10%) II. Organizational Framework (20%) III. Academic Integrity & Learning Environment (10%) IV. Funding, Resources and Design (10%) V. Staff and Professional Development (15%) VI. Promotion and Public Relations (15%) VII.Assessment and Evaluation (20%)
  5. 5. Programs and Services (10%) Describe how your center meets the criteria of the NCLCA Learning Center definition: • Provides interactive academic spaces • Reinforces and extends student learning • Effectively uses physical and/or virtual environments • Provides a variety of comprehensive support services and programs • Enhances student academic success, retention, and graduation • Aligns with best practices of student learning theory and addressing student learning needs • Fosters critical thinking, metacognitive development, and academic and personal success
  6. 6. Small Group Activity • Make a list of the programs and services in your center and share with your group. • How do these fit with the NCLCA definition of a Learning Center?
  7. 7. Organizational Framework (20%) • MISSION STATEMENT • Mission statement is in alignment with division and institutional mission • Regular review process for the mission statement • Mission statement is appropriate for the student population • LEADERSHIP • The director has the appropriate blend of professional degrees, certifications and work experience • Other center professionals have appropriate blend of professional degrees, certifications and work experience • Learning center professionals are represented on campus/university- wide committees
  8. 8. Discussion Points • The mission statement for center and connections to institution. • The professional experience for center director and other personnel.
  9. 9. Academic integrity and learning environment (10%) • ETHICS AND POLICIES • All staff members are trained on ethical practices and institution policies • Learning Center employees respect student privacy and confidentiality • Scholarly integrity and academic honesty is upheld • DIVERSITY • Center staff are sensitive to needs of diverse populations • Academic support needs of diverse student groups are considered when planning programs • All staff members provide fair and impartial academic support for all students and promote a harassment free environment
  10. 10. Discussion Points • Be sure that ALL center staff (professionals, support staff, students) are trained on ethical practices, institutional policies, FERPA training, etc. You must describe how this is done and provide evidence in the application. • Centers need to describe how diversity issues are addressed and provide evidence of how the needs of the entire student population are being met.
  11. 11. IV. Funding, Resources and Design (10%) • Funding and Staff Support • Funding is used effectively to provide services that meet the needs of the student population • Administrative/clerical support is adequate to provide strong customer service • Learning center profession staff is adequate • Technology, Space and Universal Design • Learning center uses technology to enhance student learning and to deliver programs/services • Learning center staff have access to online resources and technology
  12. 12. Universal Design • UD is "the design of products and environments to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design” ( • “As increasing numbers of people with disabilities pursue educational opportunities, the accessibility of tutoring and learning centers and other student services increases in importance. The goal is simply equal access; everyone who needs to use your services should be able to do so comfortably and efficiently.”(DO-IT) • Make sure everyone feels welcome, and can: • get to the facility and maneuver within it • communicate effectively with support staff • access printed materials and electronic resources • fully participate in all learning activities (DO-IT)
  13. 13. Discussion Points • Applications should discuss the sources of funding and any creative ways you have tried to increase funding. • What technology is used AND how is it used? • Discuss your center’s location and equipment/ furnishings and how these relate to the principles of Universal Design. • Describing your space in a VISUAL way is recommended.
  14. 14. V. Staff and Professional Development (15%) • Student/Peer Professional Training/Professional Development • Strategic planning meeting held at least annually • Basic and advanced training offered for all student/peer programming • Training is certified by appropriate professional organizations • Learning Center Professionals Professional Development • Belong to at least one learning assistance organization and/or professional listservs/discussion forums • Participate in professional development/leadership opportunities • Active in or contribute to the profession of learning assistance
  15. 15. Strategic Planning • “In general, strategic plans for higher education cover a three to ten year time frame and include the following components: mission, vision, strategic priorities, goals, objectives, action steps, time frames and responsible parties.” (Strategic Planning Workbook, Lake Eric College 2013) • Strategic planning ≠ assessment
  16. 16. Small group activity • Discuss your strategic planning process. • Discuss the student training program. • Discuss the certifications you have/plan to have. • Discuss the professional organizations, professional development activities (publications/presentations) for your professional staff.
  17. 17. VI. Promotion and Public Relations (15%) • Student Population Relations • Branding is well-recognized • Virtual presence through a website and social media • Informational/promotional materials are made available to students at least three times/semester or term • Institutional Relations • Utilizes an advisory board • Provides program information to key institution stakeholders • Feedback is solicited from key institutional stakeholders
  18. 18. Advisory Boards • Advise the Learning Center Director on ways to increase the impact of the Learning Center. • “Provide a vehicle for marketing the learning center and its programs, strengthening (and sometimes repairing) relationships with key learning center stakeholders, prioritizing programs and budgets, and, if it hasn’t already been done, developing learning center mission, goals, and objectives.” - Alan Craig • Who should be represented on a learning center advisory board? • INTERNAL - learning center director and any key coordinators, coaches, tutors, etc. • EXTERNAL - students, faculty etc. who are not active in the center
  19. 19. Discussion Points • Describe the brand of your center including any logos or taglines. When students are thinking about your center, what comes to their mind? • Provide your plan to market this brand. • Provide descriptions and links to any virtual opportunities your center provides • Describe your plan to touch each student at least 3 times in each semester. • If you don’t have an advisory board to bring an external perspective, you should form one before you apply. • Describe in detail how you inform stakeholders and also get their feedback.
  20. 20. VII. Assessment and Evaluation (20%) • The PROCESS of Data Collection, Organization and Analysis • Data collection, organization and analysis process • The PLAN for Assessment and Evaluation • Learning outcomes are clearly defined with a sustainable system to measure effectiveness • Process is in place to provide continual review and quality improvement in programs and services • The PRODUCT of Assessment – Annual and Other Reports • An annual report is compiled each year, including quantitative and qualitative information/data and an executed summary • Alignment with the assessment plan
  21. 21. Developing Learning Outcomes Learning outcomes are statements specifying what students will know, think or do: “Learning outcomes should flow from a needs assessment. The needs assessment should determine the gap between an existing condition and a desired condition. Learning outcomes are statements which described a desired condition – that is, the knowledge, skills, or attitudes needed to fulfill the need. They represent the solution to the identified need or issue. Learning outcomes provide direction in the planning of a learning activity. They help to: • Focus on learner’s behavior that is to be changed • Serve as guidelines for content, instruction, and evaluation • Identify specifically what should be learned • Convey to learners exactly what is to be accomplished” Source:
  22. 22. Small Group Activity •Describe any reports compiled by your center. How is this shared on your campus? • Describe your center’s plan for assessment and evaluation •Share your center’s process for data collection, organization and analysis • Discuss how you develop and effectively measure learning outcomes.
  23. 23. Your Road to Becoming a Center of Excellence • Steps for application • Download the application form and checklist from the NCLCA website. • Use the checklist to guide your preparation of the application packet. It is important to identify and include the appropriate evidence to meet the criteria • Deadlines for submitting application: January 15 and June 15 • Centers will be notified of score by April 15 and September15, respectively • Fees and designation duration • Initial designation (Valid for 3 years) $500 • Renewal (Valid for 5 years) $250
  24. 24. Benefits to your center • A plaque to be displayed in the center • A .jpeg to be included on your digital materials • Congratulatory letter to your institution president/chancellor • Press release template • Listing on NCLCA website
  26. 26. Final Discussion • Reflection on your center • Current strengths • Areas for improvement • Pathway for excellence for your center