FARMINGTON — In continued support of UMF’s efforts to help all students be successful, the University of Maine at Farmington has been awarded a $25,000 “Support Early Success in College” Grant by the MELMAC Education Foundation. Established in 2001, the foundation is dedicated to advancing the cause of education for all Maine citizens.

The recent grant was awarded to help the university build on its successful MELMAC-funded Supplemental Instruction Program. First implemented at UMF in 2006, the national academic support program was designed to improve student’s academic success and increase retention. UMF is the first University of Maine System campus to adopt the SI program.

In the SI program, peer tutors provide regularly scheduled study sessions to help fellow students in historically-challenging classes before problems arise. The tutors attend courses identified by the program and provide students seeking assistance with academic guidance while mentoring effective learning strategies.

The newly-funded, peer-tutoring initiative has an increased focus on providing students with pro-active academic support, beginning as early as the second week of the semester. Study sessions in the new program have been expanded with newly-added, drop-by office hours that offer additional opportunities for one-on-one meetings with students.

The new grant also provides for continued development of tutor training, focusing on best practices in peer education. The grant will enable UMF’s Learning Assistance Center, author and overseer of the grant, to purchase software to help in collecting data to update support services at UMF and better meet the changing needs of students.

According to UMF staff at the center, overall, students who attend more than 10 percent of the study sessions improve their academic performance, some by an additional letter grade.

“These highly-interactive sessions help students develop strong study and time management skills and promote critical and creative thinking,” said Jess Berry, UMF learning specialist. “Peer-tutoring provides a very supportive and collaborative learning environment that benefits all students and creates a real community of learners.”

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