URI’s Academic Enhancement Center spotlighted in national journal for adaptability during COVID-19

KINGSTON, R.I. — Nov. 18, 2020 — The University of Rhode Island Academic Enhancement Center has been recognized in the Teaching and Learning Assistance Review Journal for its ability to adapt to virtual learning during COVID-19. Over the summer, the journal invited colleges and universities to share their responses to the academic support changes and challenges brought on by COVID-19.

URI’s Academic Enhancement Center staff seized the opportunity to document its journey in a co-authored article called, “Keep Calm and Tutor Online! Rhody’s Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic.” The article was published in October 2020.

“This article was an opportunity for us to document the ways in which we worked together to accomplish our core mission of student support during this time of crisis,” said Jennifer Burgess, director of the center. “Externally, this article provides practical strategies that can be borrowed and implemented by others. Internally, it serves present and future center staff members in framing the journey ahead and providing strategies for overcoming future unknowns through teamwork.”

In March, the Academic Enhancement Center student tutors had to work together to practice online tutoring with one another before rolling out online tutoring for the larger URI community. The Academic Enhancement Center is now able to tutor in-person as well as online, and have had 2,400 tutorial visits so far this semester. According to Burgess and her colleagues, the challenges presented by COVID-19 provided an opportunity for the Academic Enhancement Center to expand its collaborations with other departments on campus, as well as to provide an education in the fundamental strategies of virtual tutoring support to tutors and TA’s all across campus.

According to Michael Frizell, vice president and editor of The Learning Assistance Review Journal, the publication typically looks for peer-reviewed articles to publish, but for this special edition editors “wanted various pieces, from poetry to research and from personal narratives to artwork. I looked for well-written pieces that focused on a learning center’s response to COVID-19.” More than 47 learning center leaders submitted pieces in hopes of publication.

“What stood out to me about URI’s submission was that it was a team effort,” said Frizell. “I’ve always been impressed with URI’s center, and I was thrilled that it chose to send the article to TLAR.”

Lauren Poirier, an intern in the Marketing and Communications Department at URI and public relations and English major, wrote this press release.