YSU’s improved comp labs target freshmen

September 23, 2013  |  
YSU composition lab

Students work in the renovated composition lab in the basement of DeBartolo Hall, built with freshmen in mind.

YSU composition labs in the basement of Maag Library and DeBartolo Hall were renovated from the ground up this summer with new carpeting, paint, furniture, computers and configurations.

“It’s all new except the ceilings,” said Julia Gergits, English professor and chair.

Thousands of students, primarily freshman enrolled in general-education writing courses, will benefit from the upgraded labs.

“We often talk about what we do for senior-level labs, things that are for our majors or our graduate students,” Gergits said. “The university tends to, quite correctly, brag about what we do for these other people, but this is specifically for freshman.”

Freshman Lauren Foley thinks the lab investment is a great way to transition students from high school to college.

“They look very professional, so when you come in, you feel like you’re in college,” she said.

New computer tables sit in an X-shaped formation so students can easily observe the interactive teacher’s station, which is equipped with two projection monitors. Connectrac, a product that hooks cables directly to a table without drilling, was installed to deliver a cleaner look. New computers with movable monitors were also added.

Guy Shebat, English professor, said the goal is to provide the best-possible teaching rooms for classes that help students grow as writers and communicators. He also said the English department’s Composition Committee wanted to create a more communal and professional structure.

“It’s important that students who first come to the university walk into a classroom that communicates to them something I like to say: YSU — You’re Special to Us,” he said.

“It should be really good for pedagogy — the kinds of pedagogy we want to encourage in the classrooms — that students work with each other, read each others’ things and help each other,” Gergits said.

Dennis Yommer, English instructor, who uses the facility every Friday for his class’ designated lab day, says the new technology and design makes things less stressful.

“I do a lot of group work, and it’s 10 times easier for me to do it in [the new lab],” he said.

Student-paid course fees compiled over the years funded the $450,000 project.

“It’s a place for [students] to see the outcome of where their money went,” Gergits said. “You can see your money in action.”

The College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences replaces the lab computers about every three years but has not completely revamped the labs in about 15 years.

“It was way past time to do that work,” Gergits said. “I thought it was neat that in a time of budget crunches, they were still willing to let this money be used like that.”

Story by Alyssa Italiano

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