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Academic Support Center changes program name

The Academic Support Center (ASC) has moved towards equality and a deeper connection with students by changing their program name to Peer Alliance Learning (PAL).

According to the announcement, PAL is replacing the following: tutor, lab tutor, embedded tutor, recitation leader and supplemental instruction leader. A tutor will now be called a PAL ally. An embedded tutor, recitation leader and supplemental instruction leader will now be called PAL facilitators.

This program offers appointments, walk-ins with PAL allies and class connections with PAL facilitators. It also includes one-on-ones and group learning sessions.

Dr. Terence Sullivan, assistant director for ASC, said that there were a couple of problems found with the supplemental instruction program name.

One of these problems was the term ‘leader’ because it created more of a leader and follower relationship between students and tutors, according to Dr. Sullivan. The ASC’s goal is to achieve deeper connection and equality in these relationships.

“It is supposed to be very collaborative,” Dr. Sullivan said. “It’s supposed to be student driven.”

After receiving a grant amount of about .25 million dollars, the ASC was able to increase the supplemental instruction program, said Dr. Sullivan.

Once COVID-19 hit, the ASC felt more disconnected from students, so over the summer, the leadership team searched for a way to reconnect everybody. Because of the pandemic, the ASC is now only available for one-on-one sessions. The hope is that by the fall, most services will be available face-to-face again.

According to Dr. Sullivan, the biggest changes happened because of the pandemic, and the name change is meant to be for inclusiveness.Dr. Sullivan said this change is for students to feel that they are equal partners in their own learning process and be able to take more ownership of it.

“One of the things we want is that our PALs are not there to do the work for student,” he said. “They are not there to reteach or take over for the instructor. That they are there to facilitate a learning process that the students who come to the sessions are in charge of.”

Dr. Sullivan said students can expect a little confusion as the program updates their website and social media accounts.

“Students can become more familiar with the term ‘tutor,’ so we are going to have to get people used to the idea of using a new term,” he said.

ASC’s upcoming workshops are on Feb. 26, March 5, and March 12. All workshops take no more than an hour. The link to register is provided on ASC’s website, valdosta.edu/asc/.

The ASC is located on the second floor of Odum Library and offers free academic assistance through the new PAL program.

Written by Jonnie Brewer, Staff Writer. Photo courtesy of Kilie Huckleby.

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