Seminar Builds Academic Skills in Students

The academic seminar took place in two one-hour sessions from 4-6 p.m. in Barnett Hall. Psychologists from Magellan Health, specializing in sports psychology and performance psychology, led discussions and activities about various academic and performance skills. The first hour focused on academic skills; the presenters talked about improving study habits, increasing memory retention, being more effective while studying and taking notes, and fighting procrastination. After a five-minute break, the second session focused on performance skills. The second half featured group activities to cultivate and demonstrate confidence, attention control and energy management.
Master Sergeant Robert Points, a senior military science instructor at Truman State University, organized the seminar. Points has worked at Truman for two and a half years and has served in the military for 21 years. Points said he started working on the seminar during the summer of 2023.
Points said the event’s main goal was to build academic skills in university students with a specific focus on the Army Reserve Officer Training Corp. students. There are about 30 students currently participating in the ROTC program, and Points said ROTC is a requirement for students who plan to become commissioned officers.
“I can’t commission my cadets into officers unless they get a degree,” Points said. “I worry more about burnout than anything else, so that is my first goal. Any way I can make them more successful in their academics is better for me, it’s better for them, it’s better for the program and it’s better for Truman.”
Points worked with Ashleigh Harding, the director of student success at the Center for Academic Excellence. Harding said ROTC was funding the event since they had access to contractors from Magellan Health, and the company had led similar seminars for historically black colleges and universities and other higher education institutions, so they had a history of working with students. Harding said the event was initially designed specifically for ROTC members before Points asked her to advertise the seminar to students outside the program. Harding started working at the Truman during 2019 and has occupied positions such as admissions counselor, graduate teaching assistant, academic advisor and now the director of student success. Harding said her previous positions gave her multiple connections she could use to advertise the event.
Harding said Points first approached her during November 2023. Since then, she has reached out to other academic success programs at Truman, such as Bulldog Scholars, Bounce Back, McNair Scholars, TRU Self and the Center for Diversity and Inclusion about the event. Harding said her hope for the seminar was that it would help students gain more skills to balance academics with the rest of their college experience and allow tutors from the tutoring center to gain more techniques for teaching and learning.
“Being a successful student is looking at your motivation, at the human side of you — not just the academic side. It’s about having your brain work for you,” Harding said. “A lot of our students put a high degree of pressure on themselves, and we have students come into Truman who did really well in high school. Some of those things came very naturally to them; they were naturally curious learners. But college is very different in how it operates…I think that this session is a good opportunity for Truman students to learn what they need to be doing to make them successful.”
Points said this is the first time an event of this nature has been held at Truman. Points and Harding said they hoped this would be the first of many academic success seminars held at Truman and that the event could become an annual or biannual event.