The Student Learning and Development Centre was approved by the Executive Board on January 23rd 2009.
Student Learning and Development Centre
This short paper sets out a proposal to establish in Dundalk Institute of Technology, a Student Learning and Development Centre. Such centres, common in many Institutes of Higher Education in Ireland, fulfil an important role in supporting students who wish to improve their academic and study skills, or more generally, obtain advice on matters pertaining to their personal development.
A Student Learning and Development Centre should be a space where students feel comfortable about raising issues that may help them to study or learn more effectively. It should help to build confidence and self-esteem, especially when mitigating circumstances arise, and be a catalyst for those who are involved in different aspects of student support to work together on a student’s behalf.
Types of Support
The type of support provided would depend, primarily, on individual or group needs, though essentially it would consist of individual consultations with a learning skills adviser, small group consultations where student needs are common, and workshops for all students, undergraduate and postgraduate alike, on a range of academic and study-related skills. Whatever the nature of the request or need, providing that each fell within the categories of learning referred to above, staff of the Centre would respond as appropriate. It is anticipated that, overall, the Centre would prove invaluable in both easing the transition from second to third level study, while improving retention rates. The work of the Centre could be augmented by initiatives in orientation, induction, mentoring and learning needs screening.
It is proposed that the Centre should be established as soon as possible. Ideally, it should be located in the same area as Student Services, so that the staff of each are in the closest proximity to each other and thus are strategically well-positioned to work closely together when this is considered essential in the best interests of the student.
Location and Staffing
The Centre should have a visible presence in an accessible location, and be staffed by specialists in the areas of academic development referred to above, a co-ordinator, and a fulltime or part-time Retention Officer. The support of postgraduate, or other student mentors, working within subject-specific areas, would also be a strength. Overall, this initiative provides a perfect opportunity for strong inter-professional links to be established among and between relevant staff, as well as help students transition from second to third level education as smoothly as possible.