About the Academic Enhancement Program
The Academic Enhancement Program (AEP) is a collaborative program between the School of Computing Science (CS) and the Student Learning Commons (SLC) at Simon Fraser University. The program co-developers and co-coordinators are Diana Cukierman, faculty member in the School of Computing Science, and Donna McGee Thompson, Head of the Student Learning Commons. The AEP porgram is currently also being expanded to the School of Engineering Science (ENSC).
The AEP aims to proactively help students succeed in their university studies. It incorporates learning activities within the course timetables of core first-year CS and ENSC courses and inform students about further resources. The program activities include two required workshops run specifically for the CS/ENSC courses, tailored to course topics and facilitated by at least one learning specialist and one Cdiscipline specialist. The AEP also includes a third "Assignment" component that encourages students to learn about a topic of their choice related to student success, wellness and connected to their discipline of study. The assignment directs students to write a self-reflective report, making use of already existing resources such as workshops, readings and videos at other departments, such as the SLC.
There is only one intervention per course, be it a course-associated workshop or the elective assignment. Students receive course marks for these activities, up to 3% of the course grade, in agreement with the course instructor. We also suggest optional related activities to do in class to reinforce concepts seen in the AEP activity.
To date, more than 4,000 students have been served, spanning more than 40 courses through 19 semesters. We collect data as we run the program, including anonymous surveys and signed authorizations to use students' material in our evaluations and educational research. The collection of data has been approved by the Office of Research Ethics at Simon Fraser University.
Besides the program coordinators, who usually co-facilitate the workshops, other people are actively involved in our program: Greg Baker, CS faculty member, workshop co-facilitator, and CS coordinator during 2011, Cynthia Wright, Yosef Wosk Student Learning Commons Coordinator and co-facilitator of AEP workshops at the Surrey campus; Sheryl Gulloy, Psychology of Education Ph.D. candidate, research assistant; Farimah Salimi, Educational Technology and Learning Design Masters candidate, research assistant; Piper Jackson, Computing Science Ph.D. candidate research assistant and workshops co-facilitator; John Edgar, CS faculty member and workshops co-facilitator at the Surrey campus, Rylan Egan, Psychology of Education Ph.D. , research assistant; Maggie Karpilovsky, Masters in the Faculty of Education, workshop co-facilitator and research assistant; Jiang Ye, Masters in Computing Science and CS instructor, workshops co-facilitator and Alicja Pierzynska CS instructor, workshop co-facilitator.
The AEP program started in the Summer 2006 semester as a pilot. After some iterations and revisions the AEP program has become established and it is currently a requirement in select lower division CS courses and will be run as pilot in selected ENSC courses. We also are working in a collboration project with the Computing Science Institute and the Learning Unit at the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Uruguay, where a program analogous to the AEP is being developed, having already offered several workshop sessions in the Fall 2011 and Summer 2012 semesters. Currently the AEP is supported by the School of Computing Science and the Student Learning Commons. Research has been supported by The Institute for the Study of Teaching and Learning in the Disciplines, at Simon Fraser University. We are currently holding a Teaching And Learning large grant with the goal of expanding and evaluating the AEP program to the School of Engineering at Simon Fraser University. The Faculty of Applied Sciences Dean's office and the School of Engineering Science are also providing support for this expansion.
Selected refereed publications and invited talks:
- Cukierman D., daRosa S. (2012). "Programa de Mejoramiento de la Experiencia Educativa: Introduciendo a los estudiantes a estrategias de estudio y reflexión" . (Educational Experience Enhancement Program: Introducing students to study strategies and reflection"), Escuela Superior de Informatica (Superior School of Informatics), Universidad de la Republica, Montevideo Uruguay, May 2012.
- Cukierman D. (2011c). "Apoyando a los estudiantes a "aprender a aprender". El Academic Enhancement Program (AEP) y el Programa de Mejoramiento de la Experiencia Educativa (PMEE): Un proyecto conjunto Uruguay/Canada". (Supporting students to " learn to learn". The Academic Enhancement Program (AEP) and the Education Experience Enhancement Program (PMEE). A joint project Uruguay/Canada). Invited talk at the Instituto de Computación (InCo), (Institute of Computing Science), Facultad de Ingeniería (Faculty of Engineering), Montevideo, Uruguay, October 2011.
- Cukierman D. (2011b). "The Academic Enhancement Program (AEP) in Computing Science at Simon Fraser University: Introducing students to learning strategies". Invited talk at the School of Electrical Engineering and Computing Science, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, September 2011.
- Cukierman D. (2011). "The Academic Enhancement Program (AEP) in Computing Science at Simon Fraser University: Introducing students to learning strategies". Invited talk at the Department of Education in Technology and Science, Technion, Haifa, Israel, January 2011.
- Egan R., Cukierman D. and McGee Thompson D (2011). "The Academic Enhancement Program in Introductory CS: A Workshop Framework Description and Evaluation". ACM Proceedings of ITICSE 2011, 16th Annual Conference on Innovation and Technology in Computer Science Education, Darmstadt, Germany, June 2011, 278-282.
- Cukierman, D., & McGee Thompson, D. (2009). "The Academic Enhancement Program: Encouraging students to learn about learning as part of their computing science courses". ACM SIGCSE Bulletin, 41(3), 171-175, September 2009. Also in Proceedings of ITICSE 2009, 14th Annual Conference on Innovation and Technology in Computer Science Education, 2009, Paris.
- McGee Thompson, D., Cukierman, D. & Karpilovsky, M.(2009). The Academic Enhancement Program (AEP) in Computing Science at SFU: Incorporating explorations of learning styles into first-year CS courses. McGraw-Hill Ryerson First Year in Focus conference, SFU, May 2009.
- Cukierman D., & McGee Thompson, D. (2008). "The Academic Enhancement Program in Computing Science: Helping students succeed in post-secondary studies; Listening to students' voices as we expand". Proceedings of WCCCE 2008, 13th Western Canadian Conference on Computing Education, Victoria, B.C.
- McGee Thompson, D. & Cukierman, D. (2008). The Academic Enhancement Program in Computing Science at SFU. Invited talk at the Learning Specialists Association of British Columbia (LSABC) spring conference, Capilano University, May 2008.
- McGee Thompson, D. & Cukierman, D. The Academic Enhancement Program (AEP) in Computing Science at SFU: Understanding today's students and helping them succeed by integrating learning strategies into the classroom. McGraw-Hill Ryerson Teaching, Learning & Technology Conference, SFU, May 2008.
- Cukierman D., & McGee Thompson D. (2007). "Learning strategies sessions within the classroom in CS". ACM SIGCSE Bulletin 39(3), 341. Also Proceedings of ITICSE 2007, 12th Annual Conference on Innovation and Technology in Computer Science Education, Dundee, Scotland.
- McGee Thompson D. and Cukierman D. (2007). "Learning instruction in the classroom: A model partnering the learning strategies specialist and the course instructor. What do students say?" Invited talk at the Canadian Learning Commons Conference, Vancouver, April 2007.
- McGee Thompson D. and Cukierman D. (2007). "Bringing Learning Support into the Q Classroom: A collaborative project between the Student Learning Commons and the School of Computing Science”, 9th Symposium on Innovative Teaching, Vancouver, May 2007.
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