Partnership for Student Success

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Directed Learning Activities

Directed Learning Activities (DLAs) are step-by-step guides through tasks that reinforce skills needed for academic success. DLAs can take many forms and serve many functions, but they always emphasize skill building and the use of tutors as mediators.

DLAs extend classroom instruction into a tutorial environment and often follow up a classroom introduction. Students take the assignment to a tutor who provides guidance (e.g., five minutes) on how to approach the tasks. After completing the DLA (e.g., 45 minutes), the student returns to a tutor for consultation (e.g., 10 minutes). The tutor signs off on the activity and the student submits the assignment to the instructor.

Advantages

  • DLAs connect tutoring to the class room.
  • DLAs, if designed together as a departmental project, enhance consistency of instruction and build consensus regarding foundational skills needs.
  • DLAs are a welcome time saver to faculty who need help addressing core competencies.
  • Faculty have access to a library of DLAs to use, another time saver.
  • DLAs also free the tutor from feeling obligated to "know everything". Tutors need knowledge only of the materials and procedures contained in the DLA, which simplifies training and raises tutors' confidence.

Fourteen faculty members from Math, English, ESL, and English Skills started SBCC's DLA project over the summer of 2007. Eleven Math instructors and faculty in History, Biological Sciences, Astronomy, and Computer Information Systems have since developed DLAs to address their students' basic skills needs. The Partnership for Student Success subsequently created an online repository to help instructors to share DLAs. DLAs have become a part of SBCC's campus vocabulary and are seen as a major component in basic skills support.



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