ORACLE course eases transition for SMU transfer students

Students who transfer to SMU after beginning their college experience on another campus will have the opportunity to take a class in Fall 2013 designed for a smoother transition.

Prospective students who attended Mustang Stampede on Saturday, Feb. 16 learned about ORACLE, which stands for Optimum Reading, Attention, Comprehension, Learning Efficiency. Students enrolled in the ORACLE class meet twice a week and earn a one-hour credit that can be applied to any degree program as an elective.

The class is a pilot project made possible by a donation from a family whose daughter transferred to SMU. It will be available to the first 23 transfer students who sign up for it.

The ORACLE class at SMU is primarily designed to strengthen reading and studying skills, including:

  • An approach to studying that builds on individual learning styles and strengths
  • Time-management skills that will help reach academic goals with time left for everything else
  • Strategies for reading faster with deeper comprehension
  • Techniques for improving concentration and memory
  • A system for taking and using class notes
  • Test preparation procedures and test-taking strategies to help students learn, recall and apply what they’ve learned
  • Methods for organizing desk, notebooks and planners

Transfer students make up a significant portion of SMU’s undergraduate studentpopulation – about 900 of SMU’s approximately 6,500 undergraduate students come to SMU after previously attending a community college or another university.

“This ORACLE class is geared specifically for transfer students,” said Nancy Skochdopole, SMU director of Transfer and Transition Services. “What we like to say about a transfer student is we know they’re not new to college, but they’re new to SMU.

“For the students who sign up for the ORACLE class, it could be tremendously significant as they transition to what will probably be a more rigorous curriculum at SMU,” Skochdopole said. “And it will help them find a group and make friends with other students who are transitioning to SMU.”

> Find more student resources at SMU’s Altshuler Learning Enhancement Center

New office to handle services for students with disabilities

LEC tutoring sessionSMU seeks to provide better support for students with disabilities by establishing a new office that consolidates all disability support services in one location.

Disability Accommodations and Success Strategies (DASS) opens in the Altshuler Learning Enhancement Center (LEC) July 1. The Office of Services for Students with Disabilities, directed by Rebecca Marin, has joined forces with LEC staff members in Learning and Attention Disorders (LeAD), who specialize in academic counseling for students with learning disabilities and attention deficit disorders.

The previously separate offices now provide comprehensive support to all students with disabilities, including classroom accommodations and accessibility issues, academic coaching for students with learning and attention disorders, and test proctoring when needed.

DASS is in the process of updating forms, web content and physical offices to reflect the new structure, Marin says. The office will also revise some policies and procedures as the teams integrate.

Students with accommodation needs are encouraged to arrange classroom test proctoring with their instructors, but tests can be proctored by DASS when necessary. Beginning June 1, test proctoring moved from the Memorial Health Center to the LEC.

Merging the offices not only makes the support system easier to navigate, but will encourage students with disabilities and learning differences to take advantage of more services, says Alexa Taylor, LEC associate director and DASS team lead. “Students who come for accommodation letters may meet a staff member who can help with study skills and time management or sign up for an appointment with the writing center,” she says. “This environment will increase their comfort level with using these services.”

In addition, DASS will offer an information session for students and parents on the first day of every AARO session this summer, Taylor adds.

> Learn more at SMU’s Disability Accommodations & Success Strategies page

For the Record: Nov. 7, 2008

Alexa Taylor, Altshuler Learning Enhancement Center, and four current and former SMU students presented a session at the International Dyslexia Association conference in Seattle Nov. 1, 2008. Estee Simpkins, Rachael Russell, Callan Harrison and Matt Tunnell (’07) shared their experiences in being college students with learning disabilities.

Four professors and administrators represented SMU at the 2008 Educause Conference in Orlando, Florida: Anthony Cortese and Dalia Abdel-Hady, Sociology; Paul Toprac, The Guildhall at SMU; and Brad Boeke, Information Technology Services. Educause is a nonprofit association whose mission is to advance higher education by promoting the intelligent use of information technology.

For the Record: Dec. 13, 2007

Nathan Cortez, Law, discussed the growth and risks of “medical tourism” – traveling overseas for needed health care – with National Public Radio Nov. 14, 2007.

Alexa Taylor, Altshuler Learning Enhancement Center, offered exam-time study tips for students with learning differences in The Dallas Morning News Dec. 10, 2007.

Daniel Howard, Marketing, discussed the holiday bargains late shoppers can expect in the final weeks of the shopping season with The Hartford Courant Dec. 11, 2007.

Influential professors honored at 2007 HOPE Banquet

Fifty-three SMU educators were honored by student staff members at the Department of Residence Life and Student Housing’s 10th annual HOPE Banquet Oct. 21. The HOPE (Honoring Our Professors’ Excellence) Awards are determined by student staff member nominations and recognize professors whom they believe “have made a significant impact to our academic education both inside and outside of the classroom.”

Lucy Scott, executive-in-residence in the Journalism Division, was honored as 2007 Professor of the Year. Two others – Lecturer in English Diana Grumbles and Associate Professor of History Glenn Linden – were named Distinguished Professors, denoting that they have been recognized as HOPE Professors for at least 5 of the 10 years in which the honor has existed. Read the complete list of honorees under the cut.

Continue reading “Influential professors honored at 2007 HOPE Banquet”