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Academic Center for Excellence Academic Skill Development Altshuler Learning Enhancement Center Disability Accommodations & Success Strategies First-Generation Initiative Student Academic Engagement & Success Student Academic Success Programs

Assistive technology helps all students – Part 2

Assistive technology can enhance the academic life of neurodivergent and neurotypical students alike. In part 1, we touched on text-to-speech software and browser extensions that make Canvas easier to use. If you missed it, check it out! Here in part 2, we’ll take a look at mindfulness software and AI.

Recent, long-term scientific studies suggest that mindfulness leads to academic success not just for students with ADHD, but all students. Just 20 minutes of daily meditation or meditative prayer can decrease rumination, emotional volatility, and anxiety, and increase memory, focus, and cognitive flexibility. For more information, check out apps like Headspace, Smiling Mind, and the Apple Mindfulness App.

Researchers are also identifying how ChatGPT and other AI tools can assist students with disabilities, such as exploring research topics, brainstorming self-advocacy conversation starters, and providing activity ideas for self-care. Some uses of AI are not useful for learning, however: having AI write even part an assignment is plagiarism; overreliance on AI leads to decreased comprehension due to a lack of engagement with course material; and information provided by AI may not be factually based or able to be sourced. Regardless, students should always consult with their instructors before using AI in a class.

Assistive technology helps to create an inclusive environment where students of all kinds, not just those with disabilities, can participate and engage. For more information, contact Disability Accommodations and Success Strategies (DASS) at dass@smu.edu or 214-768-1470.

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Academic Center for Excellence Academic Skill Development Altshuler Learning Enhancement Center Disability Accommodations & Success Strategies First-Generation Initiative Student Academic Engagement & Success Student Academic Success Programs

2024 Extra Mile Award winners

Every spring for the Hilltop Excellence Awards, Disability Accommodations and Success Strategies‘ student organization, Students for New Learning (SNL), presents two or three instructors with the Extra Mile Award. This award recognizes teaching excellence and sensitivity when working with neurodivergent students.

This year, SNL has recognized: Pamela Corley, Department of Political Science; C.J. Enloe, World Languages and Literature – Spanish; and Shon Phillips, English. Watch the official presentation video here.

Congratulations to our winners! Thank you for helping to make SMU a welcoming place for neurodivergent students and “going the extra mile” to help them succeed.

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Academic Center for Excellence Academic Skill Development Altshuler Learning Enhancement Center Disability Accommodations & Success Strategies First-Generation Initiative Student Academic Engagement & Success Student Academic Success Programs

Assistive technology helps all students – part 1

We at Disability Accommodations and Success Strategies (DASS) see how invaluable assistive technology is in the life of a student with a disability, but we want to share how this tech can help anyone. In the first of a two-part post, we’ll look at the text-to-speech software Kurzweil, and browser extensions that make Canvas more user-friendly. 

Kurzweil reads electronic text aloud, and so students who are blind, have low vision, and many who are dyslexic rely heavily on it or similar apps. Students with ADHD, ESL students, students with a preference for auditory learning, and even those just struggling to focus find it easier to follow along as the text is read to them. Kurzweil is available for download to all SMU students through DASS, Academic Development of Student-Athletes (ADSA), and Fondren Library.

Academic counselors here at DASS and in Academic Skill Development (ASD), see students struggle to find posted assignments, rubrics, and important dates on Canvas. Two Chrome browser extensions available for download at the Chrome Web Store might help: Tasks for Canvas and Better Canvas.

Tasks for Canvas presents many ways to organize and bring important things front and center, including class announcements. It “gamifies” assignments with a progress wheel and helps the student break a task into smaller parts, then tracks their progress.

The second extension, Better Canvas, is more for cosmetic changes to the layout making it easier to see and get to the most important parts of each Canvas page. It is like Tasks but allows more creativity in its use of colors, dark/light modes, and themes.

Stay tuned for part two next week when we’ll consider mindfulness apps and AI!

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Academic Center for Excellence Altshuler Learning Enhancement Center First-Generation Initiative Honors and Scholars Office of General Education Offices & Programs Rotunda Scholars SMU in Four Student Academic Engagement & Success Student Academic Success Programs Student Success & Retention

Student Senate Awards First-Generation Scholarship

The First-Generation Initiative is excited to announce that on March 26th, Student Senate passed legislation, which appropriates $50,000 per year exclusively to Pell Grant, first-generation students. This first-gen scholarship will begin in Fall 2024 and last for the next nine years (Spring 2033).

A huge thanks to all of Student Senate for the unanimous vote, but a special thanks to: Alex Alarcón, Clayton Meyer, Michael Castle, and Wyatt Harms! We also want to thank the First-Generation Initiative’s former graduate/student assistants, Briana Morales and Guadalupe Roman, for their determination in continuing to push for more first-gen support.

 

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Academic Center for Excellence Academic Devleopment of Student-Athletes (ADSA) Altshuler Learning Enhancement Center Disability Accommodations & Success Strategies Student Academic Engagement & Success Student Academic Success Programs

ADSA & SASP Hosting a Staff & Faculty Breakfast on January 11th

Student Academic Engagement and Success (SAES) is hosting two upcoming tours of the Academic Development of Student-Athletes (ADSA) and Student Academic Success Programs (SASP).  Tours will take place at 9 AM and 9:30 AM at the ADSA & SASP offices located in Loyd All-Sports Center. ADSA is located on the 3rd floor, in suite 316. SASP is located on the second floor, in suite 201.  This opportunity is an invitation to all SMU faculty and staff to tour our academic centers and learn more about the support services offered to students! Breakfast and drinks will be available.

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Academic Center for Excellence First-Generation Initiative Honors and Scholars Rotunda Scholars

New Success Counselor joins Rotunda Staff

Briana Morales joins the Honors and Scholars team as the new Rotunda Scholars Success Counselor. A Texas Native, first-generation college graduate, and SMU alum, Briana earned her Bachelors of Science in Psychology and is currently pursuing her Master of Science in the SMU Counseling program. Since her time as an undergraduate, Briana worked with SMU’s First-Generation Initiative and First-Generation Association as a fierce advocate for many students whose struggles she knows too well.

Briana’s experience mentoring students, coordinating student centered events, and building relationships across campus will be a welcome addition to the Rotunda family. Briana is excited to join the Rotunda support system and community as it grows in number and expands services. Her favorite part of serving students is the relief and joy on students’ faces when they see how much you care. To her, there is no greater feeling than showing someone you care about their well-being and success. We are excited for Briana to join our team and begin working June 19th.

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Academic Center for Excellence Academic Devleopment of Student-Athletes (ADSA) Altshuler Learning Enhancement Center Disability Accommodations & Success Strategies First-Generation Initiative Hilltop Scholars Mustang Scholars National Fellowships Office of Engaged Learning Office of General Education President’s Scholars Rotunda Scholars SMU in Four Student Academic Engagement & Success Student Academic Success Programs Student Success & Retention University Advising Center University Honors Program University Testing Center

SEAS units begin migration to new SMU-branded web pages

In partnership with the Office of Information Technology, Student Academic Engagement and Success (SAES) began migrating unit websites to the new SMU-banded web pages.

As part of the brand migration, the SAES Marketing, Communication, and Digital Technology committee worked with unit webmasters to assist with a site content refresh (e.g., text, pictures, layouts). The committee recommended reorganizing navigation and pages based on Google Analytics data of high-traffic pages. As part of the process, broken links, spelling, SEO optimization, SMU web governance, and site navigation are also being addressed. Finally, professional headshots and employee biographies will be added over the summer.

Beginning with the SAES main navigation in late May, all units will be migrated over the course of the summer and early fall terms.

Last week, the following unit websites were completed:

Scheduled to migrate on or around the dates listed below will be:

  • June 23:
    • University Testing Center
    • University Advising Center
  • July 21:
    • Academic Development of Student-Athletes
    • Office of Student Success and Retention
  • August 11:
    • Student Academic Success Programs
    • Office of Undergraduate National Fellowships
  • September 1:
    • University Honors Program
    • First-Generation Initiative
    • Scholars’ Den
  • September 22:
    • President’s Scholars
    • Rotunda Scholars
    • Mustang Scholars
    • Hilltop Scholars

Please pardon our dust during this transition. If you discover broken links or issues, please direct them to academicsuccess@smu.edu to be routed appropriately. The next communication on the webpage migration will be once all SAES units have been completed.

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Academic Center for Excellence Altshuler Learning Enhancement Center First-Generation Initiative Hilltop Scholars Mustang Scholars National Fellowships Office of General Education President’s Scholars Student Academic Engagement & Success Student Academic Success Programs University Advising Center University Honors Program

Writing Center is open Summer 2023

SMU’s Writing Center in the Altshuler Learning Enhancement Center (A-LEC) is open this summer from June 1 – July 31!  Appointment times are:   

  • Mon – Thurs 2:30-5 (in person at the A-LEC)
  • Tues & Thurs 4-6:30 (ZOOM)
  • Fri 2:30-4:30 (in person at the A-LEC);  Sun 5-8 (ZOOM)     

Book an appointment with a Writing Center Faculty Member in Canvas.