What does a Student Learning Officer do?
I work with undergraduate and postgraduate students at third level to help them build effective learning strategies and writing skills.
Why did you choose to work within Disability Services
I trained as an Educational Psychologist but wanted to do work based more on psycho-educational intervention than assessment. I did a placement in a disability service during my training and knew third level was the right setting for me. I began working after graduation in a Disability Service, but in my current role I now provide the same support to the whole student body, as many students have issues with learning effectively at third level, not just those with disabilities.
Where did you train and how long did it take?
I completed a four year Psychology degree in Trinity College Dublin, then worked for three years in the education sector gaining experience, before returning to college for a two year Masters in Educational Psychology in University College Dublin.
What qualities and skills does a Student Learning Officer need?
A Student Learning Officer needs to be empathetic to the difficulties students frequently face in tackling third level, they need to be calm, approachable and good at relating to students. They need to have the skill to pick out exactly where a student is having difficulties in their learning and know a range of tools, strategies and techniques to overcome these issues.
Have you always worked with young people?
Yes! I’ve been volunteering with children and young people since my own days as a student and my entire career to date has been working with children and young people.
What kind of support do you provide?
I provide many workshops every week in different study and writing skills that students can drop into. The workshops cover areas such as critical writing, time management and effective reading amongst others. I also lead a small group programme called ‘Learning to Learn’, coordinate a Writing Centre for students to avail of writing support, and offer individual learning development sessions.
What do you like most about your job?
I love working with a small group of students over several weeks – it’s great to see people sharing their experiences and supporting each other and taking strides forward in their learning.
Are you working on any projects at the moment?
I’ve actually just launched an exciting technology project with our I.T. team. We’ve embedded the best learning apps and extensions on Google Chrome (for example mind mapping and flashcards apps) to all student Gmail accounts. This way all students at the institution have access to good quality learning technology, not just those who engage with Disability Services.
What is your top tip for students starting college?
Get organized! Read through module outlines, know when your assignments are due, how much their worth, the topic on the module. Create digital folders in Google Drive or Dropbox for all of your materials and stay on top of them right from Week 1.
How can parents help?
Parents can help by emphasizing how important routine is in learning – building a study routine almost like a real workplace routine can give students the structure they need to manage independent learning.