Learning Support Centers in Higher Education

        Instructor Frank L. Christ
       Institution Grambling State University
Office Number 520-459-4125
E-mail address flchris@mindspring.com
Course Level
Doctoral Level



A 16 week on-line graduate level course, three units credit or audit, entitled "Learning Support Centers in Higher Education." The initial course will enroll no more than twenty students. Students can be currently administrators or staff at a learning support center. At registration, students choose one of four virtual institutions ( large public university, small private college, large urban community college, or small rural community college) and become its administrative head. Each virtual institution has an abridged catalog on the course web site. Course assignments follow a student's choice of institution.

COURSE OBJECTIVES. By the end of the course, the student will be able to demonstrate:
A. An understanding of the process and stages in developing a LSC
B. Knowledge of the development of the learning assistance movement, its beginnings, subsequent history, its leaders, researchers, and Internet resources
C. Increased ability to function as an effective center administrator
D. Awareness of the effect of technology on center capabilities and future role of learning support centers in distance learning

COURSE TEXTS AND RELATED READINGS. CRLA Monograph: Starting up a Learning Assistance Center: Conversations with CRLA Members Who Have Been There and Done That, edited by Karen Smith (Rutgers), Rick Sheets (Paradise Valley College), and Frank Christ (University of Arizona).Clearwater, FL: H & H Publishing Co., Inc., 1999; and Improving Student Learning Skills: A New Edition by Martha Maxwell, (1997). Clearwater, FL: H & H Publishing Company, INC.

Additional full-text readings are on-line at the LSCHE/WI web site < http:www.pvc.maricopa.edu/~lsche/ > as well as on the BlackBoard course site. Over 125 supplemental readings (books, articles, dissertations, and ERIC documents) are referenced in a course bibliography with an additional 150 learning support center URL's in its webliography.

STUDENT INTERACTION. Discussion Forums are an integral part of the instructor to students and student to student course interaction. All reading assignments require that students post answers to questions in discussion forums each week. At the end of the fifth and tenth week, formal progress reports are emailed to each student regarding the quantity and quality of their participation in the discussion forums.

In addition to discussion forums that are specific to each session’s required readings and Internet site viewing, three special forums have been designed: 1) a hospitality suite, to simulate social interaction among students, 2) a virtual faculty office, to promote instructor/student communication, and 3) visiting scholar forums where students will have an opportunity to ask questions of and dialog with learning support center directors, practitioners, support staff, and researchers. Among the visiting scholars will be Dr. Martha Maxwell, author of the course text, Improving Student Learning Skills, and officers from major learning support center related associations.

Another instructor to student mode of communication occurs weekly in the "Announcements" section of the course. In addition, a global email function allows the instructor to communicate to all students.

GRADING. Grades are based on Discussion Forum Contributions, In Basket Exercises, Mid-term Paper, Final Open Book Exam and a Major Course Paper. Final course projects include two papers: 1)Writing a "Next Steps" paper in which a student lists a series of objectives, each with its individual tasks, suspense dates, and accountable agents. This paper can reflect either a student's institutional center or it can be based on the hypothetical institution that was selected for this course from the institutional catalogs provided on-line. Next steps also include personal and professional growth activities; and 2) an Open book examination covering all the sessions and related materials. Given at end of session 15 and due (time stamped) during week 16.

CASE STUDY (In Basket) exercises are included as assignments at appropriate sessions. Some assignments have special due dates to simulate real situations that students will encounter as center directors.

COMPUTER REQUIREMENTS FOR ON-LINE COURSE DEED707. Hardware specifications are the minimum suitable to function in an online course: IBM/PC compatible or MAC with at least 8Mb of RAM and preferably 16Mb, printer and modem preferably at 28.8 kbaud speed; Software specifications are Windows 3.1/Windows 95/98 or MAC OS, Internet browsers IE 4.0 or higher, Netscape 2.0 or higher, any common word-processor or text-editor for course assignments such as MS Word, MS Works, Write (Win 3.1), WordPad (Win 95/98), Word Perfect (version 5 or higher). If not using one of those programs, files can be exported in a suitable format such as Word format, Word Perfect format or Rich Text Format (RTF). Internet access through a personal account with an Internet Service Provider or through an institutional connection.

COURSE SOFTWARE. BlackBoard 5.1.1 is the development software with which the course was developed and is accessed on the Internet with a user ID and password that is given to each student at registration.

Each weekly session lecture has the following components: 1) Introductory remarks which may include any unfinished business from the preceding week, 2) Session assignments , 3) Instructor comments on the required readings including questions on the readings, 4) Session information, and 5) Final instructor remarks.

Master Schedule (Spring 2002)

Week 1: Course Orientation. Background & Definitions. History of Learning Support Centers (LSC) in Higher Education

Week 2: Establishing an LSC: Standards. Budget. Funding. Grants

Week 3: Locating, Designing, Equipping, and Furnishing a LSC

Week 4: Time Out for Reflection, Analysis, and Cross Talk

Week 5: Programs & Services I: Learning Skills

Week 6: Programs & Services II: Tutoring , Supplemental Instruction

Week 7: Programs & Services III: LSC Online

Week 8: Programs & Services IV: LSC as Broker & Partner (Orientations. Special Populations)

Week 9: Time Out for Reflection, Analysis, and Cross Talk

Week 10: Managing and Staffing an LSC -

Week 11: Spring Break

Week 12: Evaluation of an LSC. Data Collection. Analysis and Reports. Outside Consultants [Mid Term paper due]

Week 13: Public Relations. Publicity

Week 14: Role of Faculty and Administration

Week 15: Professional Development and Recognition through Associations, Listservs, Institutes, Graduate Courses & Advanced Degrees. Research. Publication. Service Opportunities.

Week 16: Learning Support Center Challenges and Opportunities: Institutional and Community Partnerships. Open Book Final Exam

Week 17: Envoi. Course Evaluation and Feedback


Frank L Christ. Originator of the learning assistance concept as described in literature in 1971. Founder and coordinator of the first Learning Assistance Support System in higher education at CSU Long Beach (1971-1989). Recipient of the John Champaign Memorial Award for Outstanding Learning Assistance Program from National Association for Remedial and Developmental Studies in Post-Secondary Education, March 1983. Founder and Director of Summer Institutes for Learning Assistance Professionals at CSU Long Beach (1973-89). Emeritus Professor, CSULB (1989). Visiting Scholar, University Learning Center, University of Arizona (1991 to present) and Associate Professor of Educational Leadership, Grambling State University. Founder and Co-director of Winter Institutes at University of Arizona (1992-2002). Director of sabbatical and weeklong training program for learning assistance center directors and staff at CSU Long Beach (1973 to 1988.) Adjunct Faculty at Kellogg Institutes, Appalachian State University, NC (Summer 1980 -1987.) Web Site developer and editorial consultant of the Learning Support Center In Higher Education web site (http:www.pvc.maricopa.edu/winterinstitute/). Founding Fellow of the American Council of Developmental Education Associations


In our effort to offer a comprehensive listing of syllabi to the Higher Education community, we encourage your contributions to our collection. Submit your syllabi using our submission form, or via e-mail at ForestJ@UStrategies.com.