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Updated 11:30 AM December 6, 2004




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  Residence hall Community Learning Centers
Students find quiet, help

It's 9:08 p.m. on the ninth floor of South Quad residence hall.

One student seated in front of a computer is looking at a physics problem on the Web. "Am I on the wrong assignment?" he asks someone at the other end of a cell phone call.

Another student is dozing with his head resting on a notebook page containing several graph-like drawings and his elbow touching a workbook on ergonomics.

For the most part, the room is quiet, with the exception of a couple of small groups gathered around computers, working on an assignment.
(Above) Alison Kartush studies psychology in the Markley Hall CLC. (Photo by Martin Vloet, U-M Photo Services) (Below) University Housing Designers Laura Rayner and Mary Waite received a first-place award in the 2004 National Conference of the Association of University Interior Designers (AUID) Design competition for their work renovating the Alice Lloyd Community Learning Center in the category of Renovation $50,000-$150,000. Entries were judged by design professionals at the conference in Tucson, Ariz. Oct. 5-8. The judges were selected from the host university's surrounding region. AUID is a nonprofit organization that provides information-sharing opportunities for higher education designers. (Photo by Laura Rayner)

"How do we know it's just the fluoride covering the tooth?" a young woman asks the two men in her group, as they try to decide if the spots on a tooth are from excessive fluoride, called fluoridosis, or something else.

The room these students are working in is one of the 12 Community Learning Centers (CLC) on campus that were designed to give students a quiet place to study. With the record freshman enrollment this year and a resulting desire to ensure adequate support services for the larger population, most of these centers now are open for more hours than before—some 24/7 and others from 7:30 a.m.-2 a.m.—to help students like Sonia Weil get work done that might not be possible in her room.

"I get distracted in my room by the computer and TV," Weil says. "If my roommate is watching TV, I can come up here. I like it a lot."

It's now 9:15 p.m. and the students from the College of Engineering Honorary Society Tau Beta Pi, who are stationed at tables in a room inside the larger space, are waiting for someone to take advantage of their tutoring services. It is a slow night so far for the engineering majors who offer help with chemistry, math, computer programming and physics—quite a different scene than a couple of weeks ago when students were preparing for midterm exams.

"The last time I was here tutoring math there was a test the next day, and it was one student after another," says Mike Salciccioli, a chemical engineering major from Birmingham, who has been tutoring since high school. "I like it when I really help people and they understand."

Tau Beta Pi tutoring chair Jack Li, a junior from Canton, says his group is glad to be working in three of the campus CLCs at Markley, South Quad and Bursley.

"We hope to be a lot more integrated with CLC," Li says.

The tutoring service is just the beginning of what David Pimentel, director of CLC, hopes will be a number of services for students. By next semester he wants to partner with other programs on campus to offer research consultation, writing assistance, training in Web development and more.

"We're excited about the opportunity to do something new," Pimentel says. "By bringing such services directly to residents, we can leverage our partners' expertise and set students up for success throughout their college careers."

The programming Pimentel envisions is part of an overall focus combining residential life with learning. Under the long-range plan for University Housing, mapped out in the Residential Life Initiatives (RLI), a number of the CLCs already have gone through or soon will undergo renovations that will allow even more program creativity, Pimentel says.

CLC spaces in Alice Lloyd and Markley halls already have been redesigned. As the University moves forward with renovations to Stockwell and Mosher-Jordan halls in the near future, Pimentel says, CLC space will factor into the new construction.

Remodeled CLC spaces may include access to various media, including a laptop computer, projector and interactive whiteboards, allowing students to prepare and practice presentations. Pimentel says more and more faculty members are requiring students to use multi-media presentations in classes, usually in work with groups.

"Our big picture goals include plans for renovated spaces to have increased computing and presentation capacities," he says. "We want to make CLC spaces flexible enough to support living/learning classes, group study, and presentations, as well as be places for consulting and tutoring."

It's 9:25 p.m. in the South Quad CLC.

"Whoa, what!", one student exclaims as the computer does something he did not expect. Across the room, first-time tutor Chris Ruswick, an aerospace engineering major from Charlotte, reads while he waits for someone to ask for his help in math.

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