October 22nd, 2020

Students help shape college’s new initiatives, resources


By Jensen, Randy on September 5, 2020.

Academic adviser Greg Gibos helps students prepare for the new semester. Photo submitted by Lethbridge College

LETHBRIDGE HERALD

Lethbridge College students had many thoughts, concerns and suggestions when it came to their education during the COVID-19 pandemic. The college has listened to its students and responded with new initiatives, tools and resources for the upcoming Fall 2020 semester.

In mid-March, classes at the college shifted exclusively online in response to the pandemic. Students were surveyed following the academic year to learn what went well and what needed to be improved. Nearly 900 students completed the survey and touched on a wide variety of topics including their ability to learn, relationships with faculty and classmates, and mental and physical health issues. The college has spent the past four months responding to what it heard and used that information to provide the best possible education to its students this fall.

“Our students showed tremendous resilience to finish last year strongly given the drastic and sudden change to their educational delivery,” says Paula Burns, Lethbridge College President and CEO, in a news release. “Now moving into the new semester, we have really taken a holistic look at our classes and services to ensure we are doing everything we can to set our students up for success. Our teams have been innovative and adaptable, truly putting our students first.”

Student survey responses focused in on four main areas: academic success; engagement and interaction; motivation; and health and well-being. Some of the responses in place now thanks to the input of students include:

– New prep courses for students, including Get Ready: A Refresher for New Students, and Set for Success: Navigating Learning at a Distance, which were available to students over the summer to help them prepare for the year ahead;

– Extra communications to students over the summer from college leadership, their deans, Student Affairs and others, to ensure they know what to expect in the year ahead;

– Creation of a faculty liaison, an instructor from each student’s program who becomes a go-to resource for his or her questions or concerns. The liaison can help connect students to services or to answers to their questions.

– Investing in a resource to help instructors support student motivation;

– Enhanced Career and Academic Advising services to provide individualized support to students who want to explore options for their program;

– Planning an online database to connect students with opportunities for extracurricular volunteer, networking or work-related unpaid experiences to support their skill development;

– Crisis help, counselling and a Student Support Specialist to assist students in navigating on-campus and in-community resources; and

– Development of online training on resilience and mental health and providing opportunities for students and employees to connect online.

The college’s entire response plan to the student survey can be found on the Lethbridge College website.

“Whether you are new or returning to Lethbridge College, one thing I hope you’ll notice about us is we want to get to know you in order to support your unique needs,” says Nancy Russell, Dean of Student Affairs. “We ask your opinion – often and on many topics. In this case, we wanted to know how the pandemic affected your student experience. We know students are concerned about staying motivated, managing financially and feeling isolated. We listened to that feedback and took action.”

The college has also revamped its New Student Orientation, moving the entire program online and creating content that will help students prepare for the year ahead. New Student Orientation and program orientations take place on Tuesday, although students are encouraged to check lethbridgecollege.ca/nso to learn what they can do to get ready ahead of time.

While some trades programs are already underway at the college, most classes begin Wednesday.

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