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ACCESS makes student success its business

February 8, 2013
Shevawn Eaton and Nirmala (Nimi) John

Shevawn Eaton and Nirmala (Nimi) John

Since 1971, ACCESS has been providing tutoring services to the NIU community.

“What started out as a small program designed to support students in the CHANCE program has now grown to one of the largest programs in the state of Illinois,” said Nirmala (Nimi) John, assistant director for Peer Assisted Learning.

ACCESS provides free walk-in tutoring services, one-on-one tutoring services, study groups and supplemental instruction for some specific courses and other support services for students who require academic assistance to be successful in their chosen courses and majors.

“Our goal is to help students. Our motto is, ‘Student success … it’s our business,’ ” ACCESS director Shevawn Eaton said. “We make sure students get what they need.”

ACCESS offers three programs to help NIU students: Peer Assisted Learning (PAL), Supplemental Instruction (SI) and the A+ Program. The programs service more than 2,000 students and log between 17,000 to 18,000 hours a year and, Eaton said, and enjoy the support of everyone from faculty and staff to the president of the university.

PAL offers one-on-one and small group tutoring. PAL tutoring is provided by undergraduate students and helping other students with general education and many other courses.

  • To improve grades in general education and core course requirements.
  • To assist in preparation for special entrance or exit exams.
  • To prepare for quizzes and class exams.
  • To learn good study habits.
  • To organize time and thoughts more effectively.

“I really enjoy seeing the light bulb go on when something finally clicks with them,” said undergraduate tutor Hannah Drinnenberg, a senior illustration major.

Supplemental Instruction is a peer tutoring program designed to enhance student performance and academic achievement in historically difficult courses. This program help students connect with the way in which professors teach and learn to read cues, and work in facilitated study groups to learn new ways to study and organize course content, which will help them succeed on tests.

  • To improve the academic performance of participating students in the course.
  • To enhance and improve reading comprehension, analytical thinking and problem solving skills for students.
  • To significantly reduce the withdrawal rate of students in high risk courses.
  • To increase the overall persistence rate of students both in terms of future semesters and toward graduation.

A+ program is a free NIU service in which professional reading specialist provide one-on-one or small group instruction in effective reading or study strategies on an appointment basis. The goal is to help students become successful with help in the following areas:

  • Effective Reading.
  • Efficient Textbook Reading.
  • Speed Reading.
  • Learning Styles.
  • Testing Strategies.
  • Test Anxiety.
  • Time Management.
  • Note-Taking Skills

ACCESS employs 130 tutors and 40 SI leaders.

“Tutors must have a 3.0 cumulative GPA and an instructor recommendation,” John said. “Once hired, the tutors will go through a training program before tutoring students.”

ACCESS Walk-in Tutoring provides student support services at four different locations:

Founders Memorial Library
Sunday: 3 to 10 p.m.
Monday through Thursday: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Friday: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Room 302
Phone: (815) 753-2825

Lincoln Hall
Sunday through Thursday: 6 to 11 p.m.
D Wing, Room 77
Phone: (815) 753-4939

New Hall
Sunday through Thursday: 6 to 11 p.m.
West Hall Room B 004
Phone: (815) 753-8105

Douglas Hall
Sunday through Thursday: 6 to 11 p.m.
C/D Wing, Room 84
Phone: (815) 753-1087

by Brandon Grosz