Over recent years, the number of universities has increased quickly in Taiwan. Almost every high school graduate can be a college student, and that shifts the higher education from elite to mass education. Education resources have been diluted and instructors would also have problems to prepare a class for students with diverse entry ability. Therefore, the higher education organizations have to provide proper supports for students in order to maintain the quality of higher education. Especially for freshmen, it’s a crucial moment for them to adapt themselves to the new environment. If students can possess good learning skills and good learning attitude, they would go smoothly everywhere through their learning pathway. Currently, in order to encourage universities to improve the quality of teaching and learning, the Ministry of Education has promoted an “Excellence in Teaching and Learning” program which makes universities and colleges start to emphasize on the affairs of student development and student learning assistance. Organizations such as Center for Teaching and Learning, Center for Teaching and Learning Development, or Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence etc. have been set up. However, unlike some advanced countries with broad research and years practical experiences, Taiwan needs more in-depth researches and examples to establish this kind of organizations that help students improve their learning skills and solve their learning problems.
This study uses literature reviews, questionnaires and interviews as research methods to collect research information and form a framework for student learning support service. Literature reviews are used to understand the issues of student learning problems and to collect the information and experience of similar organizations from the universities of the United States and Taiwan. Questionnaires are for students to evaluate what they need from the learning support systems. Interviews of the freshmen advisers are used to understand what teachers’ perceptions for students learning problems are. With the results of the three methods above, this study has concluded a framework for building a student learning support center and then compared the framework with the services of the Student Learning Support Section of Tamkang University to see the similarities and differences.
The results of this study are as following:
1. The results of questionnaire show that the foreign language skills and methods are needed the most for freshmen. And the others were scholarship, presentation skills, training for research report and thesis writing, skills of oral presentation, training for critical thinking and creativity, strategies for examinations, strategies for concentration, strategies of paper writing, training for organizing and doing research etc..
2. According to the analysis of literature review, the framework of student learning support center should include 5 functions, the improvement of learning skills and abilities, learning problem diagnosis and solving, learning tools and resources, assistance for freshmen, and referral services to other services on campus. The improvement of learning skills and abilities, including instruction in study skills and learning strategies, tutoring, supplemental instruction, and group learning; learning problem diagnosis and solving has learning diagnostic testing, and learning counseling; learning tools and resources has computer assisted instruction or access to other educational technology, and management of learning material and tools included. Evaluation should be used to check if all the services are satisfactory, and to modify the services.
3. For helping freshmen adapt to the new learning environment, assistance for freshmen can helps them get familiar with the new learning environment; the assistance can also have introductions to campus environment and learning resources, counsel to course selection, and help them to set up their study and life plan.
4. In comparison with the framework from this study, the services of Student Learning Support Section of Tamkang University have 5 similarities, including instruction in study skills and learning strategies, learning counseling, management of learning material and tools, computer assisted instruction or access to other educational technology, and referral services.
This research made the following suggestions:
1. For Tamkang University: (1) the services for student learning support should be more integrated and unified, and (2) the information about student learning activities should be put together and accessible. (3)Group learning is worthy to give a try.
2. For a student learning support center:(1) it is necessary to keep contact with advisers constantly;(2) activities related to student learning should be well promoted and (3) have a good integration.
3. For future research, the research should be expanded to investigate the needs for learning supports for all students in the university, and the administrative matters and the structure of student support center can be further researched.