Like many departments, the Academic Success Center (ASC) trains student staff over the course of spring term. In training, students develop fundamental skills and engage in extensive practice prior to supporting other students.
Anika Lautenbach, Lead Strategist for the ASC, is currently training new strategists. Whether consulting in-person or virtually, strategists help students locate resources, identify learning strategies/tools, and communicate effectively within the university.
Anika has taken time to answer a few questions about training and share several resources the OSU community can use when training student employees.
Q: Could you talk a little bit about the general structure for training?
AL: The initial Strategist training is typically broken into three group sessions. Each lasts about two hours and gives us the opportunity to…
- Talk about the ASC mission and values
- Discuss the strategist role in detail, as well as other ASC programs and services
- Engage in team and community-building activities
- Practice skills with the group before working with students.
Q: What are a few major topics you cover when training students for the strategist role?
AL: We cover what we call Fundamental Skills for Helping. This includes active listening, asking closed and open-ended questions, and validating each student’s experience and ability to succeed. We also focus on how to make effective referrals.
After initial training, new strategists observe experienced strategists and debrief consults. Debriefing gives them the chance to think about what went well, what was challenging, and how they can grow in their role.
One thing we really value is learning from each other, which includes seeking and offering feedback. It’s important for us to start this process early on. I like to share examples from my learning experiences to show that feedback is something we all can benefit from.
Q: How do you prepare strategists with strong knowledge of resources available to students?
AL: Strategists often say one of the biggest benefits of the position is learning about resources. When we are on campus, I ask strategists to visit popular resources like the Undergraduate Research & Writing Studio, the Human Services Resource Center, and the cultural centers. Visiting as a group gives them an opportunity to bond while experiencing resources. With remote learning, I’m having them explore resources online.
At times, I have also worked with campus partners to acquaint strategists with resources and train on specific topics. For example, we had folks from the Ombuds Office talk with strategists about navigating difficult conversations, and the Career Development Center helped strategists identify ways to represent transferrable skills on their resumes and in interviews.
Q: What are some of the resources, tools, or information you rely on in training?
AL: Unit 1 of the Peer Educator Training has been extremely useful when onboarding strategists. Unit 1 covers foundational elements of offering peer support, which include active listening and validation. I also use the reflection prompts to guide conversations around creating a welcoming environment.
Students also complete Kognito training to prepare for conversations with students in distress. This training gives strategists practice with skills to feel more confident working with actual students who may need support as a result of academic challenges or other life events.
Strategists also complete FERPA training. Even if they have completed this training for another campus job, I have them revisit the material so they feel confident working with sensitive student information.
Q: What do you enjoy most about training?
AL: A lot of creativity goes into designing training, and I learn more each time I work with a new group of students. I enjoy helping students develop new skills, getting to see them grow in their role, and finding ways to ensure they feel supported and confident in what they’re learning.
Resources to Support Your Training
All of the resources Anika described are freely available to the OSU community. In addition, the ASC also offers training for student employees. Commonly requested topics include making effective referrals, balancing work and academics, and facilitative vs. directive peer education. If you’re interested in learning more about ASC-facilitated trainings, please reach out to Marjorie Coffey, or submit a request using our workshop request form.