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Hitting the Books Has Never Been Easier
Friday, September 7, 2012
By Charmagne Yeung
School is about performance, as is sport. So why is it that most students don’t have the fundamental skills for college like they would for sport?
Cavanagh Whitely, head coach for the Royals baseball team, focused on that thought when he joined the faculty in 2010 and developed it, specifically for student athletes, in the Student Success program at Douglas College. Students are met with challenges when they face college for the first time, or for the first time in a while. But for student athletes especially, going to college can be more stressful because of high expectations to perform academically and athletically. “Student athletes come [into college] with tougher time tables; they’re trying to work, train, play their sport, take three or more courses, and balance all that,” says Cavanagh. “In the first weeks of the course we teach students organizational skills they need to be successful.” The Student Success courses provide students with fundamental life skills that aren’t taught in average curriculum, such as time management around training sessions, study habits, and goal setting.
As part of the Faculty of Language, Literature and Performing Arts (LLPA) through the student development program, Cavanagh is recognized as an “academic coach.” He says, “I try to provide students with the tools to achieve academic success. When they finish my course, they will come out with a number of different tools and understand their own personality and learning types so they can implement that with other classes and make changes and adaptations to suit their style… Athletes, for the most part, have different learning styles. Their personality and intelligence styles are different: they’re kinaesthetic visual learners, in short, active learners. We want to move around, to touch and feel, and discuss the issues, and learn that way rather than to sit and listen or read a book… That’s the reason why my position was created. Athletes were having a tough time in the Student Success program and beyond because they didn’t understand that that’s the way they learn, and that’s the way they need to focus on their studying.”
“We’re trying to create a positive environment; a true student athlete experience. This is something cutting-edge that Douglas is doing differently from other colleges: we’re actually teaching courses that relate back to the learning style of athletes so they can use that for other aspects like business or math, other than just sport sciences.” The young program has already seen dramatic positive results. “We’re at a 95% retention rate for two-semester sports, meaning 95% of athletes are still staying in their program from semester to semester. It will be interesting to see the statistics… in the future and improve on them.”
Cavanagh says, “The amount of time you put in outside of class is the same as the amount of time you put outside a game; you don’t just go and show up to a game, you have to train and practice, just like you have to study.”
Join us in the Douglas Students’ Union (DSU) building on the first floor for some extra studying time or swing by Cavanagh’s office on the fourth floor in the LLPA department to get that extra help in finding the right resources. Take a peek at the Student Success website and see what your fellow students have to say.
Who’s ready to hit some books?