4 Questions to Improve Your Student Success Center

Higher education institutions are always seeking strategies to better support students in achieving their personal, academic, and planned career goals. On many campuses, these efforts have blossomed into the development of Student Success Centers, providing intentional wrap-around support to help students move through college successfully, grow personally, and be prepared for their life post-graduation.

As the majority of students have come back to campus, colleges and universities are seeing additional value in providing students extra academic support through their Success Centers. These efforts are a key part of providing a more equitable learning experience, ensuring that students who are most vulnerable to educational attrition are receiving the resources they need.

Creating a Student Success Center

Student Success Center with flexible tables in University classroom setting

Student Success Center at University of South Alabama

mobile whiteboards in student center

Student Success Center at University of South Alabama

Higher education institutions like the University of South Alabama have recently carved out space in their library to create a Success Center, where the learning approach is supported by creating flexible, collaborative spaces for both the students and the tutors.

(Read our last article for how they used our Adapt & FrameWork collections to accomplish this.)

At University of South Alabama in particular, the requirement for group learning and collaboration spaces trickles down from the top. The university as a whole focuses on “Team-Based Learning,” which has helped students quickly adopt collaborative tutoring resources available in the Student Success Center and feel comfortable with more collaborative than individual work styles. The university seeks to look past the degree itself and focus on what a student wants to do with that degree, working together to prepare them for their desired path.

Take a look at the full installation at University of South Alabama.

Furnishing a Student Success Center

When planning the furniture for your own Student Success Center, there are four questions you want to answer first:

1) What work patterns do you want to support in the space?

Student Success Center with flexible tables at University of Alabama

Student Success Center at University of South Alabama

Looking back to the project at the University of South Alabama, they had one primary challenge—they needed to serve tutoring groups of many different sizes.

In just one space, they needed to accommodate:

  1. Large groups (5-20 students at a time)
  2. Small groups (2-4 students at a time)
  3. One-on-one tutoring 
  4. Virtual tutoring

As you are developing and furnishing a Student Success Center, it’s important to have clarity about how the space will be used so your furniture decisions reflect the goals for the space as a whole.

Will the space primarily be used for one-on-one tutoring or do you need the flexibility to easily adjust for tutoring large groups? How often will students likely need to use the space for individual study or virtual meetings? Is this space intended to support collaboration among students and group work?

2) Do you need any technology integration in the space?

Agati Elements Media Station

In modern spaces, it’s easy for technology integration to be more quickly-assumed than it may need to be. So it’s important to come back to your foundation and goals, ensuring all integrated technology serves the intended function of the space as a whole.

Consider these questions in your design:

How accessible does power need to be? Will group collaboration be served by the availability of solutions where a project could be displayed and discussed? Will integrated technology solutions take away from the intended flexibility of your Success Center?

3) Should the furniture be stationary or be adaptable to changing needs?

Manifest Collection at Middle Country Public Library

Student Success Center with flexible tables and partition walls at University of Alabama

Flexible Furniture Solutions at University of South Alabama

Looking again at the University of South Alabama: With such a wide array of needs to fulfill, they knew they needed to invest in flexible furniture solutions—products that would allow them to create collaborative, flexible spaces where students could be tutored on both a large and small scale, having the freedom to adjust as needed.

This need was unique to the space the university sought to develop. Each space carries its own needs, and many Success Centers would benefit from furniture that is intended to stay-put. It comes down to your goals for the environment.

Is this a flexible space designed to easily adapt to changing needs on-the-fly? Or is this a defined space where the furniture supports the same functions day-in and day-out?

4) How much privacy do you need to give students while they work?

Library Partitions

FrameWork at Columbus Metropolitan Library

University library two person study pod furniture

Students Using Agati POD and POD Duo

Privacy is as much about focus and productivity as it is about seclusion. When we increase privacy, we provide students with valuable dedicated space to talk, collaborate, and make progress on their projects. However, enclosed spaces, particularly when created with stationary furniture solutions, can also limit the amount of students that can work together at once.

In a space where one-on-one tutoring is primary, privacy can be especially valuable. We want students to feel comfortable, confident, and productive. At the same time, we don’t limit the very work styles we seek to prioritize.

Is privacy a major goal of your Success Center? How can you balance privacy, collaboration, and your other goals for the space? How much privacy do you need to give students while they work?

Student Success Centers are a valuable arm of higher education institutions in helping students succeed in their studies and prepare for their future. We hope these questions help you plan out or improve your Success Center as you continue your crucial mission of equipping the next generation of difference-makers.

Want to talk about your Success Center? Let’s connect!

Take a look at our full installation at the University of South Alabama >>