Story and photos by: Amelia Rose Zimlich | Editor In Chief | firstname.lastname@example.org
The Center for Academic Excellence (CAE) held their annual Long Night Against Procrastination on Dec. 4 in Shelby Hall as a way to encourage students in their efforts to study for finals.
“Long Night Against Procrastination started at Yale University in their library and it’s a thing that learning centers around the country do…the weekend before finals,” said Kristi Clayton, the assistant director for Student Academic Success. “It’s really a best practice for excellent learning centers, so it was natural that it came out of the Center for Academic Excellence. We want to do what our aspirational partners are doing.”
After checking in, students made their way to the study rooms, which were separated into quiet rooms and talking rooms. In the quiet rooms, students could work on projects and study in silence. In the talking rooms, groups could study together, and tutors answered questions, helped students review material and led study sessions.
Students spent the first five minutes of each study session creating a goal to accomplish during that session. CAE tutors encouraged them to create S.M.A.R.T. goals, which are goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-based. Students would then study for 45 minutes, focusing on completing their goal. After the study time was up, students would take a 10-minute break, where they were free to get food and play games that were set up in outside and in the lobby. Then the cycle would repeat.
According to Clayton, S.M.A.R.T. goals and the setup of the study sessions are unique features of South Alabama’s version of the event. These factors make it easier for students to store information they’ve studied in their long-term memory. “We are teaching our students how to learn versus just offering tutoring,” said Clayton. “We’re really going through the metacognitive practice of how to study, which we know our students need. That’s one of the number one things that our freshman report having struggles with.”
The CAE offers free tutoring, both face-to-face and online, success coaches and workshops to students throughout the semester. Students are employed as tutors and success coaches. CAE’s mission statement, according to its website, “is grounded in a growth mindset, which posits that students can learn anything with hard work, perseverance, and good study habits.”
“My favorite part of this event is the community aspect of it,” said Blake Batchelor, a senior success coach. “Studying for finals can seem really overwhelming and really lonely and that kind of stuff, especially if you’re new or if you’re a freshman. So to have this kind of community to rally around and see that everybody is in the same boat as you right now…is really amazing.”
“I think it’s great to also build community and for students to realize that they’re not alone in this slog that is finals week and finals preparation,” said Clayton. “This energy that we’re getting from students and this vibe of just being all disciplined to be in here in Shelby Hall and sharing this challenge together is really a beautiful thing.”