By Janet Ha Poirot
Student athletes have particularly demanding schedules. Not only are they expected to attend practices, competitions and team meetings, they need to keep up with their academic demands and meet GPA requirements as well. This is where George Mason’s Athletics Department steps in to support students and helps them stay on top of their academic expectations.
In addition to attending their classes, student athletes are required to attend weekly study hall and tutoring sessions. As Cynthia Dowd, Athletics Department Academic Coordinator, states, “The department is committed to their student athletes and ensures they build in time to get their academic work done.” She regularly uses SSC-Campus to track study hall hours and tutoring appointments. Prior to the implementation of SSC-Campus, study hall hours were recorded manually on a sign-in-sheet, which was time consuming to search through. Now, the hours are recorded in SSC-Campus where they are instantly accessible to anyone who needs the information. Cynthia appreciates how quickly she can create accurate reports through the software. Before George Mason’s Athletics department adoption of SSC-Campus, many hours were spent on manually intensive tasks.
The Athletics Department also uses SSC-Campus to collect and track progress reports from tutors and professors. To support student athletes, the department asks professors and tutors to submit comments about the student’s progress in their classes around week 11 and in their tutoring sessions. In the past, these forms were not easy to collect. Tutors were given forms to fill out by hand which were not only time consuming but wasted paper. Professors received an email for each student-athlete in their class which was a burdensome process. With busy schedules, professors and tutors were sometimes negligent in submitting these reports. Now professors and tutors can fill out progress reports online using SSC-Campus where their comments are stored. As a result, the rate of return for progress reports from both tutors and professors dramatically went up. The tutor reports have an 85% rate of return, which is much higher than when they used paper feedback. And the Athletics Department received 700 responses from professors from their most recent SSC-Campus initiated progress report request which is unprecedented.
After reviewing these reports, the department can flag students who are having trouble with a particular class or subject. An Academic Coordinator in Athletics can get in touch with the student, the student’s coach or academic advisor to find out more about the student’s situation. This early intervention process has helped students improve their grades. Michael Ouellette, Athletics Department Academic Coordinator, reports that coordinators have identified problems after reviewing progress reports in SSC-Campus. The more information they have on their students, the better they can aid them. Michael, who also works with tutors says, “SSC-Campus allows for earliest possible intervention to take place. If that information wasn’t available, we couldn’t intervene.”
It is well-understood that to create a change in behavior, we have to make the new task easier to do. In this particular case, the new improved change was to increase the rate of return of progress reports and to more easily track students’ study hall hours. This is what SSC-Campus can do for your department as well. SSC-Campus allows for users to capture and collect student data and allows users to input information about their students instantly. And through a platform like SSC-Campus, administrators, faculty, and staff all across the university are able to identify students who may need additional support.
Overall, the use of SSC-Campus by the Athletics department has helped improve communication between students and professors. “We can close the loop and communicate with tutors, students and professors more quickly and with more accurate information,” says Michael Ouellette. Just another example of how leveraging technology can further Mason’s overall commitment to provide a transformational learning experience for its students.