Goal: Successful students!
ASKS has reopened on site at LUSEM and is more available than ever before. Meet Hanna Glad and Garo Harwood, the team behind Academic Skills Services at LUSEM.
Hanna Glad and Garo Harwood, the team behind ASKS/Academic Skills Services, run a well-established support service at our School, known to and used by both students and teachers. Academic Skills Services started at LUSEM in 2011 and has developed more and more over time. The idea with ASKS is to support the students in their immediate surroundings and be able to work subject-specifically.
“For years, ASKS was the only faculty specific skills service at Lund University, and I think it might still be,” Garo says.
What ASKS can offer in terms of support has no limits when it comes to education level and how long the students have been on the programme:
“We want to help all students develop their academic writing and learning skills. That is the key, that our service is open to every single student,“ Hanna explains.
“We try to tailor what we do according to the programmes at LUSEM, in order to reach everyone. We rather want to be part of the education than a support service. The closer we can connect our services to the programmes, the better for the students.“
All aspects of academic skills
Hanna and Garo help out with all aspects of academic skills. Reading skills is one example. Garo says that some students think it is a difficult task to get through 15-20 journal articles in a week for an assignment, but with the right strategies, this is easily manageable. Time management, working in groups, understanding teacher feedback and improving the quality of academic writing are other examples of what ASKS can help out with.
It is not only about these traditional study skills though:
“We also do intercultural awareness workshops to ensure that all students, when they work in groups or teams, are aware of each other's cultural background. That can help them to reduce any difficulties they may have in understanding each other. We want to make the students feel more welcome and included and thus make them more successful in their studies,“ Garo says.
The uncensored version
Hanna and Garo try to set up their workshops and support in a way so they address the issues that are hard for the teachers to capture:
“We do have a unique position where we learn a lot from the students, things that I don't think many teachers learn or get to hear. We get to hear the uncensored version,“ Hanna says.
“We get to hear how they feel, how they experience their studies and also what skills they lack. They don’t go to their teachers saying ’I don’t have time to read’ but they come to us and say that.“
The students usually get to know about ASKS when Hanna and Garo come for a visit in class. They give information for all programmes at the start, but they also try to come back later on in the programme for stand-alone lectures and joint assessment projects with the teachers.
“By doing that we remind them about who we are but we are also developing their skills in for example writing assignments and later on it might be in thesis writing. We are continuously trying to upgrade their skills as we go through a programme. We want to make ourselves visible but also be actively involved in building the skills that they need,“ Garo explains.
Teachers are more than welcome!
Hanna and Garo would like to increase the collaboration with teachers. ASKS has for many years collaborated with teachers within various programmes. To let ASKS be a part of the teaching is something that programme directors and teachers find advantageous and Hanna and Garo would like to see this method spread to more LUSEM programmes.
“It doesn’t have to start with a complete plan, we can start small. We don’t have to wait until we know exactly what to do before we start. We can start now!“ Hanna says.
“I am hoping to build a close collaboration with our two Swedish bachelor’s programmes. This would give those students a similar chance to develop their writing and learning skills as our international students.”
Hanna and Garo want to encourage all teachers to get in touch if they notice that students are struggling with writing or reading. Referring the students to ASKS as soon as possible will save both teachers and students a lot of time; the sooner, the better.
Coming up in the immediate future is a lunch session on academic skills with Lundaekonomerna, on the students' own initiative, and also workshops and drop-in sessions on site. Planning and developing more workshops and courses in Swedish is also in progress.
Garo develops it further:
“We are looking forward to workshops on site next semester and since it is spring and many students will be writing their theses, we will put more focus on writing. It wasn’t that successful giving workshops online. A lot of students signed up but then very few showed up. However, face-to-face workshops have always proved to be more popular and I look forward to seeing many more students next year.“