The Learning Specialists Association of Canada is disappointed and concerned about Georgian College’s recent decision to make its professional learning specialist staff redundant in favour of a solution that will transfer learning strategies support to less qualified academic advisors to provide generic study skills support.
Learning Strategists are professionals with specific education, skill-sets, and expertise to properly assess students’ current learning strategies and provide immediate and ongoing counsel to assist students in meeting their full academic potential. Unlike generic staff, Learning Strategists are able to both provide learning strategies instruction and assist students in applying strategies directly to course content taking into account adult learning theories, the latest research, and current best practices.
While we respect the role academic advisors play within student success, we have concerns that this decision will result in learning strategy support at Georgian College being reduced to simplistic tips lacking context, application, and credibility.
We are also concerned that this decision will result in a stagnation of academic support services to students. While the trend within many post-secondary institutions is to integrate and embed these services into curricula through the guidance and direction of a learning strategist, Georgian’s decision severely limits the evolution of learning strategies support to meet diverse student needs or to remain current with evidence-based practice.
Research has shown that learning strategies support is essential to both student performance and retention if it is received early enough (Polansky et al, 1993) (Reed et al, 2009). By limiting and reducing access to these support systems we are concerned that Georgian students will face barriers to achieving their full academic potential. Furthermore, we are concerned that this decision will disenfranchise students with disabilities and other non-traditional students by limiting their opportunities to receive comprehensive learning strategies support.
For these reasons, we request that Georgian College reconsider this decision and restore professional Learning Strategist support to provide dedicated comprehensive learning strategies support to its students.
The Learning Specialists Association of Canada (LSAC) is a voluntary, national association for professionals who focus on the application of learning theory in higher education. By offering instruction in learning strategies and study skills, LSAC members support and further the educational goals of students, faculty, staff and school administrations. LSAC's purpose is to develop, encourage, and model sound professional and ethical standards among its members while facilitating the dissemination of current and emerging trends and research in learning. More information about LSAC can be found online at www.learningspecialists.ca.
Polansky, Joan, John J. Horan, and Christine Hanish. "Experimental Construct Validity of the Outcomes of Study Skills Training and Career Counseling as Treatments for the Retention of At-Risk Students." Journal of Counseling & Development 71, no. 5 (05, 1993): 488-92. doi:10.1002/j.1556-6676.1993.tb02230.x.
Reed, Maureen J., Deborah J. Kennett, Tanya Lewis, Eunice Lund‐Lucas, Carolyn Stallberg, and Inez L. Newbold. "The Relative Effects of University Success Courses and Individualized Interventions for Students with Learning Disabilities." Higher Education Research & Development 28, no. 4 (08 2009): 385-400. doi:10.1080/07294360903067013.
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