ATI/ Wooster Campus Visit

On Friday, December 4th, the ATI/Wooster campus hosted ACADAOS members for our annual Regional campus visit. Personally, I had never been to this campus before, and I was very excited to make the trip. Thanks to Stephanie Elliot’s great work, we rode on a fancy charter bus with plenty of room for all of us.


The Wooster campus is home to the Agricultural Technical Institute (ATI), the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center, (OARDC), and the OSU Extension program. The institutions all share space on the campus, but the individuals that we spent time with were from the ATI campus. Our hosts for the day were Ruth Montz, Coordinator of Student Services; Kathy Yoder, Head Librarian; and Dee Dee Snyder, Program Manager, Program Excel.

Our day started with an overview of the campus and the students that they serve. The most intriguing thing for me was how different the student body was for the ATI campus. They have a significant portion of their students who are working solely on their associate degrees, and will not make the transition to Columbus. They also have a large portion that are currently working in a full-time job, or on a local farm. This makes it incredibly difficult for them to work a schedule that most of our students in Columbus would have. They also do not have professional advisors, but, faculty advisors who help them select their classes. They do have a very strong and committed academic success program, with academic mentors and professional tutors. Their tutors specialize in certain subjects, and are available to help students in many of their classes. One thing that was emphasized for us was how closely all of their support units work with each other. It was very easy to get the sense that the students can view the campus as a second home.

Kathy Yoder, the Head Librarian, gave us a tour of her library space. The library is main hub where students go to get just about any of their questions answered. Their librarians help with everything from finding resources, scheduling classes, and answering technology questions. Kathy makes sure that the space is very inviting for students, and even keeps a blanket and pillow on a couch in one of the quiet spaces of the library. As she explained, many of their students start working on their farms or other jobs at 4:00 a.m. They come to class, and if they have a break, they want a place to sleep.



After a break for lunch, we ended our day learning about Program Excel, and the academic coaching that ATI provides for under-resourced students. They have six (6) full-time Academic Mentors and Coaches who help students determine which classes to enroll in, provide individual and group tutoring, and help students improve other “soft skills,” like self-efficacy, interpersonal communication, and time management. Each Mentor and Coach specializes in one or two key academic areas, to help students in specific subjects and courses. Program Excel has also had a very strong record of success, with over half of ATI’s 2014-2015 Phi Theta Kappa members and Outstanding Student Award winners being members of Program Excel. We were all very impressed with the outstanding work that ATI is doing with these students, and the dedication that the staff has shown to provide their students with such opportunities for success.

Last, but not least, many members of our group stopped in the floral shop. They grow poinsettias in their greenhouse, and create and sell handmade floral arrangements. Several of our members did bring home some of the arrangements for the holidays. Fearing that I would make a horrible choice, I opted not to. You can see a gallery of their arrangements here:

We all had an outstanding visit, and would recommend that anyone who wants a glimpse of staff that truly cares for it’s students take a trip up to Wooster. Thank you again to everyone who made our trip memorable, and we look forward to our next visit!


Special Thanks to:

Ruth Montz

Kathy Yoder

Rachel David

Leslie Eisberg

Dee Dee Snyder

Stephanie Elliott




Barry Tolchin

President, ACADAOS

Book Review- A Mind for Numbers: How to Excel at Math and Science (Even if You Flunked Algebra)

I have been working with Engineering students for almost five years now, and working as an academic advisor for close to eight. Every year I would hear the same refrain: “This is the best and brightest group of students we have ever seen.” I would look at each new student’s record and see almost an entire academic career of AP or PSEO Math and Science courses. Yet, when the students would get their grades back, they would perform at level that did not match their academic ability. The most common things that I would hear would be: “I don’t understand. I do great on the quizzes and homework, but I bomb the exam,” and “We had never seen any of the stuff that was on the exam before.” Somewhere, there was disconnect between our students ability and their performance.

I stumbled onto a book over winter break called A Mind for Numbers: How to Excel at Math and Science (Even if You Flunked Algebra), by Dr. Barbara Oakley. Dr. Oakley is a former military officer, who studied languages as a college student. She thought, “I am a right-brained person. I don’t get Math and Science.” However, as she progressed in her career, she had to learn Math and Science in order to properly do her job. She had to retrain her brain in order to understand the complex Math and Science that was required of her. She was not only successful in doing so, but has gone on to get an undergrad, Masters, and Ph.D. in Engineering.

Her book uses some very basic understanding of neuroscience to explain how the brain operates, and how you can use that processing to understand very complex subjects. The most important concept for me was what Dr. Oakley calls the “Illusion of Competence.” This occurs when you know one way to do something, but when you are given a different set of circumstances, you find out what you really don’t know, because you haven’t made connections about it why what you are learning is so important. Very few of our students spend time contemplating what they are studying – they are used to learning only for the exam. The irony is that they only study for one particular way the questions could be asked, so when they are required to think critically and analytically about the material, their “understanding” shown to be nothing more than, as Dr. Oakley would put it, and “illusion.”

Dr. Oakley has essentially created a mini-version of the book on Coursera, titled, “Learning How to Learn: Powerful Mental Tools to Help you Master Tough Subjects.” She has turned her chapters into videos, none of which are more than fifteen minutes long. If you don’t want to spend the money to read the book, the Coursera course is very good. The book does go into more detail and examples, so it is well worth it.

Overall, this is an excellent book, and useful for anyone trying to get through a difficult subject. The explanations of neuroscience are accessible, and easy to understand. She also uses many real-world examples of how some of the great minds of our time – Salvador Dali and Thomas Edison, for example – actually used some of the techniques she described. It’s a book that you might not be able to finish over a weekend (about 280 pages), but is not exceedingly long. For a book that is rooted in neuroscience, it is not dry or boring at all. It contains a lot of illustrations, diagrams, and practical examples. I strongly recommend this book for anyone working or learning in higher education.

Barry Tolchin



ACADAOS Mansfield Trip

Hello ACADAOS Members and Friends,
On December 5, 2014, the folks at the Mansfield campus were gracious enough to host a group of ACADAOS members. I have been asked to blog about my experience. This is my first attempt at a blog, so here goes:

Our journey started on a very nice OSU shuttle. There were about 20 of us in total, which was enough to feel like a big group, but still give us an opportunity to chat with one another. I made the mistake of telling one ACADAOS member that I never have, never plan to, nor have any interest in ever visiting Disney World or Land. After she picking up the pieces of what appeared to be her broken heart, she then proceeded to tell me what is, I am assuming, everything any human being will ever need to know about the park.

When we arrived on campus, we met with Dr. Terri Fisher, Asst. Dean, and Rick Stewart, Academic Advisor and Program Planner. Rick and Terri took us through some of the exciting new things that the campus is working on. The Mansfield campus is really pushing their students to get involved in undergraduate research. They have had a lot of success getting undergraduate students involved in research with faculty members. They have created a great site which can direct students on how to get involved with research, and how to apply for a research grant:

We also learned about the Haiti Empowerment Project. This is an initiative developed by Dr. Terri Bucci, in which students can travel to Haiti and work on projects designed to help the local community. Students work to develop education programs, engineering projects, and assist with entrepreneurship ventures. It’s a great opportunity for students to help others, immerse themselves in another country, and continue to develop career-related skills. You can find a video about the project here:

We were also given a tour of the campus by some of the student leaders. We have some pictures from the tour below:


The brand new open study space in the Bromfield Library:


The Eisenhower Student Union:


Steven Mousetes creeping out some stagehands in the Founders Auditorium:


We were also shown the Pearl Conrad Art Gallery. They were holding a Biotic exhibit, which featured organic works such as the history and significance of ginseng. You can find out more information on their website:

Finally, Professors Phil Mazzocco and Amy Brunell put us through an implicit bias workshop. The purpose was to get us to understand that we all have biases based on our experiences and sociocultural conditioning. This is a workshop that Professors Mazzocco and Brunell have given to local and campus groups with great success, and we had a great conversation among the advisors about our own biases.

We had an outstanding time, and we cannot thank our colleagues on the Mansfield campus for opening their doors to us, and creating such a fantastic program. Thank you to everyone involved, and we hope you can join us next time!

Barry Tolchin, President-Elect