BAS Degree Promotes Skills for Career Advancement

Designed with the working adult in mind, the Bachelor of Applied Science (B.A.S.) is an online completion program designed for students hoping to transition from their technical fields to a bachelor’s degree. According to the B.A.S. website, “This interdisciplinary program is for students who desire to enhance their knowledge, analytical abilities and critical thinking skills for upward mobility in their field.” Students in the B.A.S. degree program will complete 18 hours of required organizational leadership courses and 18 hours of professional course electives. Required courses include Principles of Management, Writing for the Workplace, and Professional Communication. Options for the professional course electives include Data Analysis/Visualization, Organizational Psychology, and Persuasive Presentations.

To qualify for admission, prospective students must have an Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) degree from a regionally-accredited college or university, or at least 40 hours of technical military credits. These credits will be applied to the 120 credit hours required for the B.A.S. degree.


Louis Scivally, B.A.S. Advisor


The College of Social Sciences and Communication B.A.S. and Transfer Advisor Louis Scivally works with current and prospective  students to make sure their path to a degree is as straightforward as possible.

“My process is this – make an appointment with me, and then you’ve got me for an hour. I will answer questions and talk for an hour…. I’m going to clarify, and make sure you understand,” Louis said.

For students who express an interest in the B.A.S., Louis first makes certain that they know what a degree of applied science consists of. “This degree is Bachelor of Applied Science. It’s not a bachelor of business. It’s not a bachelor of computer science. It’s an interdisciplinary degree. We are working with business, social science, [and] communication …” Louis said.


Students who have completed their A.A.S. from a regionally-accredited school or who have at least 40 hours of technical military credit* can schedule an appointment with Louis to work out the details of applying that credit to a B.A.S. Before the appointment however, students can always better prepare themselves by checking with their previous school to see if they are accredited by one of the six regionally accredited bodies.

The regional accrediting bodies are:

  1. Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) Western Association of Schools and Colleges
  2. Higher Learning Commission (HLC) (UA Little Rock’s accrediting body)
  3. Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
  4. New England Association of Schools and Colleges Commission on Institutions of Higher Education (NEASC-CIHE)
  5. Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  6. WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC)

[List provided by Jennifer Moody, Director of the Office of Transfer Student Services]

*Military students who don’t know how many technical credit hours they have completed may contact the Military Student Success Center for help with determining hours.

UA Little Rock also provides students with a Transfer Equivalency Guide so students can see how their courses may transfer.


Louis is realistic about the obstacles students must overcome for their education. Because of the specialized nature of a B.A.S., he works closely with students to navigate the transition and make information more accessible.

“Talk to me. I can help you. We’re here to help you … We’ll talk through it together,” Louis said.

For many people working full time, and for those with children, finishing a bachelor’s degree may seem unthinkable. However, even if it’s one class at a time, it is attainable. As with any degree, compromises must be made, but Louis sees the potential in his students.

“You can do it. Let’s do this together. People don’t believe in themselves enough. You’ve got this … It’s the beginning of a change. One day at a time,” Louis said.

For more information on the B.A.S. check out

To make an appointment with Louis, call him at 501.537.1930, email him at or go to

Course Spotlight: Information Visualization

“Every day, we create 2.5 quintillion bytes of data. To put that into perspective, 90 percent of the data in the world today has been created in the past two years alone…”

– via study published by International Business Machines Corp.


Dr. Dirk Reiners has been an associate professor at UA Little Rock since 2014. Information Visualization is one of four courses that he teaches with the Department of Information Science in the College of Engineering and Information Technology.


What does the Information Visualization course cover?

D: How do I turn data into a picture that helps people to better understand the data? How do people see? What are the things that they actually see? How does our brain interpret the images that we see? People might think that the eyes are cameras, but they’re not — totally not. They work very differently, so a lot of things that our brains and eyes do automatically change how images are perceived; we talk about that and what influence that has on how you visualize data.

We also talk about how to lie with visualization, because if you make your pictures wrong, you can give people impressions about data that are just wrong. Once you go through the class, you will see that being used effectively on a daily basis, mostly by politicians, because they really like to present things that are not quite right, but that look good.

The bulk of the class is about methods on how to visualize data. What are the different ways that we can present data in a visual form that helps people analyze and understand it better, and hopefully remember it better? And there’s different targets for visualization – and typical problems are that you have too much data, and not enough screen space … and how can we visually present data in a small space? There’s many different methods that go beyond the simple bar charts and line charts. We talk about those too. They have their place, but there’s a lot beyond that on how to visualize networks – how to visualize trees – sort of hierarchical structures, like an organization diagram – like directors, CEO’s, CTO’s, and down to all the little people. There’s a lot of different ways on how to present those hierarchical structures that are much more effective than others.

We also talk about different visual elements – what kind of visual elements makes sense – does it make sense to use colors for values between 1-100? The answer is no, because our eyes don’t work like that. It makes sense to use brightness. It makes sense to use color intensity, but the sort of typical red, green, blue rainbows are very bad for that… we’re gonna talk about that and many other things – on how to really turn information into visual elements that make sense – that people can actually understand.

What sort of data do students work with?

D: My goal whenever I do these classes that are project based – like the main work, besides some minor homework, is a project. So the goal is for the students at the end of the semester to have a project where they present some data that they are interested in, that they identified themselves. I give them sources. Fortunately there’s a lot of data publicly available now. The US government, the city of Little Rock, the state of Arkansas, and the United Nations – they all have data portals. Everybody. It’s a big trend in public administration in the last couple years is a data portal, so you can download all kinds of data – crime data, traffic violation data. You can find a lot of data online.

I really encourage people to pick their own data so that they do something that they are interested in. In many cases, if we work with graduate students, they already have a research project that generates data that motivates them to be in the course in the first place, and they can use that. I’m perfectly fine with them using whatever data makes sense – as long as in the end, they have a coherent visual presentation that shows something interesting about the data, and usually people realize that it’s very easy to get a lot of data, and most of it is pretty important, but there are always some surprises – and that’s what we’re looking for.

Any memorable or fun projects?

D: I don’t know if I would call it fun. The project that I remember – For some reason, the last time I taught the course, there were a lot of people interested in jail data. There was some discussion about jails, and some fairly interesting analysis on the distribution of jail times, and one of the students was very interested in the death penalty – so some good information, and some good visualization about which states have it, which states don’t have it, and how long are people on death row … not quite fun – a little more morbid.

There was a fun one. One of the students did a fairly interesting analysis about game data – how popular certain games are, how long the popularity lasts for the different systems, and the different kinds of games – different genres of games, so that was pretty interesting.

What sorts of students take the course?

D: We have a pretty wild mix. Because of the required course in information science, that’s the bulk, but we do have business information people – a little bit of everything. There’s usually a few computer science people, but all of the disciplines are welcome – so we have geologists, nursing, and some other faculties that I wouldn’t expect, but nowadays everybody has data, and pretty much every graduate student has some kind of data that they need to think about, and the course is fairly open to pretty much anybody who wants to know how to turn data into pictures.

What are some obstacles a student might encounter?

D: There is a lot of data sources, but typically the data is not always clean, so you need to spend a little bit of time trying to figure out how to clean it up, or how to turn it into something that the visualization tools can handle. Most of the students end up using a visualization tool called Tableau. That’s sort of the 800lb gorilla in the information visualization world. A lot of companies use it because for universities it’s free. It’s online, and it can handle a large amount of data.

The trick is trying to figure out how to make Tableau look interesting, because everybody has seen 100,000 line charts with blue, green, and yellow lines – so trying to find visual ways that are interesting, and really show what’s interesting. People are surprised that it takes a little longer than expected, and more tries. It’s a very iterative process. You try something and see if you get some interesting results, and if not, you try another way to look at the data. Typically it’s not a ‘I load the data, I press a button, and then I’m done’ thing. It’s really an explorative process, which is the goal of the class – to explore and to find new ways to visualize your information.

Favorite part about teaching the course?

D: It’s always interesting to see what kind of projects people come up with. As I said, I don’t really give any limits. Some of them are challenging, but most of them have turned out pretty well. My favorite lecture that I do is the one where we talk about perception and optical illusion. Those are really fun.

Advice for students interested in taking the class?

D: If you have a class that’s project based, start working on day one, and don’t wait until the last three weeks of the semester. I see that too often, and the results are always bad – that’s the nice thing about a project class – you can start at the beginning of the semester. Your first attempt is probably going to be pretty bad. That’s the point. You need to learn and see how you can make it better.

Examples of Data Visualization


Map visualization of multigenerational households in the United States
U.S. Census Bureau – Table R1106 Multigenerational Households
Map visualization of net job creation rates by state in the United States
U.S. Census Bureau – Net Job Creation Rates by State
Map visualization of the percentage of veterans among the adult population in the United States
U.S. Census Bureau – Percentage of Veterans Among the Adult Population

Word Cloud

This visualization was created using data from this article on a word cloud generator via

word cloud of information from article

Industry-backed programs prepare future leaders in data quality

Dr. John Talburt
Dr. John Talburt | IQ Graduate Coordinator, Professor and Advisor

The Information Quality (IQ) graduate programs at UA Little Rock are designed to prepare students for the rapidly growing field of information quality by providing a comprehensive education of theory alongside industry-standard training. Students may choose from a graduate certificate in IQ, Master of Science in IQ, or a Doctor of Philosophy in computer and information sciences. 

According to the IQ program page, the programs are “designed to prepare students to pursue a variety of IQ careers such as Chief Data Officer, Information Quality Manager, Director of Data Governance, Data Steward, Information Quality Analyst, and Data Scientist, or to pursue doctoral-level graduate studies in preparation for information quality research and instructional roles.”

Dr. John Talburt, coordinator and advisor for the IQ graduate programs, is a leading researcher in his field and an award-winning faculty member. He is known for helping students not only on their academic paths, but also with establishing thriving careers.

Talburt relates the information quality field to the manufacturing industry. In manufacturing, total quality management was a revolution, propelling Toyota to be the world’s leader in automobile production. “[In a manufacturing process] you take in the raw material, you manufacture a product, and you try to embed quality in all the processes that produce that product,” Talburt explained.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) IQ program was based around thinking of information systems like factories. “So your raw materials coming in are data coming in. Instead of machinery you have programs. Then the key element is to think about what comes out of your information system as a product … If you think of it that way, you can apply all the principles of manufacturing quality to information quality production,” Talburt said.

By following the paradigms developed in total quality management, the program focuses on how to create high quality information products from a system. The program also has a business focus, considering implementation of quality programs in information technology are management issues. “There is a lot of project management associated with carrying out these improvement projects … and there is a lot of change management, and here I mean organizational change – getting people to think about data as an asset, getting them to think about their responsibility, and what we call data stewardship – taking care of data that’s in their possession; so, it touches on a  lot of management issues as well as technology issues.”


The information quality graduate program began at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock as a joint venture with MIT and Acxiom. In 1998, while Talburt was working with Acxiom, the company became interested in data quality and asked him to guide them on how it worked. So Talburt did the exact thing that many of us do when we are trying to learn something new – he looked it up online.

“The first thing that comes up is MIT and a guy named Richard Wang, who is the director of the MIT data quality program. So we reached out to him,” Talbert said. Soon after Wang came to Arkansas to talk about MIT’s program, a total data quality management program was implemented at Acxiom. While MIT had an information quality program, it was an executive-outreach training program. Wang wanted a real degree program.

Dr. Mary Goode, founding dean of the College of Engineering and Information Technology, was on the Acxiom board. Between Goode, Charles Morgan (leader of Acxiom at the time), and Wang, the idea of starting an information quality graduate program at UA Little Rock began. Talburt had been at UA Little Rock before as the chair of computer science and was recruited back in 2005, when he immediately began developing the curriculum. Training material contributed by MIT was converted to courses, and the program was approved by the Arkansas Department of Higher Education in April 2006. By Fall 2006, they had their first cohort of students. By 2007, all of the courses offered in the MSIQ went online. Today, all IQ graduate programs are offered completely online through UA Little Rock Online. 


In a rapidly growing world of data, Talburt embraces change within the field.

“This is an evolving thing,” he said. “It changes all the time. The program is much different now than it was [at the beginning]. Most of the courses have the same title, but their content [and tools] has changed dramatically…. We are now using the big data tools. Data quality in the era of big data is more important than ever. There’s been a big emphasis now on data governance. [Dr. Elizabeth Pierce] teaches a course on that called data information quality policy and strategy, and that’s been huge.

“We’ve got great support from industry as well. SAS has donated the use of their data quality tool called data flux for us to use. We use that in our classes. Collibra, which is the leading data governing software company, allows access for all of our students to Collibra Academy for getting hands on experience with data governance tools ….”

The MIT information quality conference has been hosted at UA Little Rock three times, most recently in October 2017. Graduates of the IQ graduate program can be found at a variety of corporations including Bloomberg, USAA, Google, IBM, and VISA. “The graduates have very good employment. We’re kind of in the data science, data age. Matter of fact, we had a job fair just recently in association with an IQ conference, and one of the companies there, it was actually USAA insurance, told me later, they said ‘This is the only college where we go and recruit that students know data quality is, and what data governance programs are about.’ … These are things that are very important now in the new data driven economy, so it’s really boosting our program,” Talburt said. 


Although the IQ graduate programs accommodate students of diverse backgrounds, Talburt does have recommendations for those without related experience.

“Even though we’re very welcoming, [students] should also understand they do have to take these courses on systems analysis and database systems, and data visualization that require them to be able to do some level of minor programming or at least using tools,” Talburt said. “We recommend [that] if they are going to get into any languages to use either Java or now very popular Python. It’s very accessible to learn Python now as well … They really need to have some acquaintance with programming, database, and also statistics.” Talburt said students can find a number of resources online for training and understanding of these concepts.

Course Spotlight: Business Communications

“According to most studies, people’s number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. Death is number two. Does that sound right?
This means to the average person, if you go to a funeral, you’re better off in the casket than doing the eulogy.”

― Jerry Seinfeld


In 2005, Sarah Clements graduated from UA Little Rock with a masters degree in interpersonal & organizational communication (now called applied communications) and started teaching within the College of Business. Her course, business communications, helps students with what many cite as a major fear: public speaking. 

What do you teach at UA Little Rock?

S: The course I teach right now is business communication. We cover business writing and business speaking – so it’s two of those things that are combined into a 16-week course …. We do correspondences, so we talk about all the different methods of writing. [The students] do short reports. They do presentations. They do an informal speech. They work on resumes [and] cover letters, and they have a mock interview at the end of the course.

How long have you been teaching online?

S: When I started I taught on campus. There might have been one or two courses offered online. Within a year or two of teaching, I was teaching both online and on campus. It was kind of 50/50, and it has always been 50/50 since then.

How does the online class differ from a physical classroom?

S: Online we use Collaborate (video-conferencing software through Blackboard), so students meet virtually to do their presentation that way. In class they do partner speeches. Online they do partner speeches … They still have to meet and figure out the best way to communicate for each pair, and they can either pick their own partner or if they don’t pick one, then I will assign them. But I will get them at least the chance to go through introductions and kind of see who is similar to them, so their schedules can align. They can meet face to face. I’ve had some say ‘Hey! You’re in my same town ….’

They can [still] do everything virtually online through Collaborate, because they can both go into a session together, record their presentations, and do it that way. They do a lot of Collaborate options, so they get used to being in front of a camera, because I think that’s probably sometimes more difficult than being in class.

Who would benefit from taking this class?

S: It’s professional communication, so anyone would benefit from it. I start with the formal tone, because I assume that students who understand the formal tone when they write a message can adapt it all the way down to being informal … We’re pretty good at being informal, but I want students to understand the formalness when you send an email to someone you don’t know.

How do you start it? You don’t just start it with ‘Hi, so and so’. You have that formal ‘Dear so and so’ with a colon, and start it out formal. Always adapt to the audience. How do they respond to you? And then adjust [from there].

It’s very interesting. The first assignment they have is to write a professional email to me. So it’s kind of funny to see who takes that lesson and continues to apply it and who takes that and never applies it. Start it with addressing the person by name at least and use proper capitalization and punctuation. It’s not a text message.

Why does how and what we write matter?

S: People read your post or your messages, and there’s a perception created by the words you’ve used or the words you didn’t use, and the lack punctuation, or the punctuation that is there … We’re creating a perception of ourselves, and there is a message communicated just by the way you’ve written something.

What are some of the biggest challenges you see students face?

S: They definitely don’t like speaking. And that’s not across the board, but that’s one of the things that most students do not look forward to. And their speeches are recorded for them to self evaluate. They are loaded in their Blackboard shell, and they can go in and self-evaluate, and kind of process what they need to work on, and … find the things they did really well and highlight those, and then also identify one or two things to continue to work on. But, speaking is not something that people enjoy a lot.

Actually, I have them on the first day get up and introduce themselves, because it gets it over with. You’ve done it now. You’ve spoken to your classmates. I continually try to make sure they know each other, because sometimes people are more comfortable speaking to people they know versus people they don’t know. Yeah, I would say speaking is one of the biggest challenges for them. Writing is a struggle for some of them, too.

What’s a “do not” for email communication?

S: Joking.

Joking doesn’t always come off in text messages or emails in the way you think they might, and so just being very careful with that. If your audience doesn’t know you and you’re sarcastic, but you’re joking about it, it may not translate, which can create more of a problem with communication. The miscommunication can happen, and there are troubles that can be caused by something that was not intended, so just be very careful with that.

And a “do”?

S: Positive communication.

Even if you’re trying to deliver something negative, how can you say it in a positive way? So trying to really remove “no” and “not” from your language and you know, instead of saying “you can’t do this,” instead tell them what they can do.

The one I always talk about in class is “Do not walk on the grass.” Well, if you don’t want me to walk on the grass, what do you want me to do? Walk on the sidewalk, right? So, “Please use sidewalk.” So it’s kind of shifting that negative thing and making people see the positive side of it.

Advice for students trying to communicate effectively?

S: Proofread. Really proofreading and making sure you’re sending the message you want to send and that.

Anytime you’re asked to speak, do it.

Even though you don’t want to do it, it’s going to make you better. So I try to even do that for myself. I teach speech, but it’s not something I want to do, right? And so anytime I’m asked to do a speech or presentation, I say “yes,” because I tell my students to do it [and] those things are what’s sharpening us and making us better at what it is that we want to do.

What’s our end goal? Well our end goal is to be the best at whatever it is we’ve set out to do, so even though my first reaction is “No, I don’t want to do that. No, you can find somebody else” … but because I tell my students, “Say yes, because it is gonna make you better,” I try to do the same thing.

20-30 minutes. That’s it. This does not define me. This will just refine me. But at the end of the day when I walk away from this, I will have learned from it … and for the most part, I’m sharing information with people, so they are interested in what I’m trying to share, so letting that be my focus instead of all my anxiety and nervousness.

For more info on Sarah’s business communication course, check out the course listing here.

Doors open for students with business management degrees

Dr. Susie Cox & the BBA in management online

The College of Business at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock offers the Bachelor of Business Administration in management in multiple formats, including completely online. Students can choose whether they want to focus on human resource management, general business management, or innovation and entrepreneurship.

Maybe you’re already in a career field you love, but you’re looking for a way to expand your options in the workplace. Perhaps you haven’t chosen a career just yet, and you’re interested in a degree that’s as open and versatile as you are.

If gaining transferable skills and advancing your career are at the top of your wants list, you may be interested in seeking a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) in management.

Business administration covers a broad field of study, from marketing and information systems to management and human resources. Business students gain knowledge in all areas of modern business and across all industries. Students also reap the benefits of learning leadership skills that go beyond any specific field or workplace.

In addition to this, many courses emphasize communication skills, team-building abilities, and critical thinking skills, preparing students to be effective leaders. Students in a business degree program do not confine themselves to a particular field, leaving the door open for many possibilities. Business people at a meeting

The College of Business at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock offers the Bachelor of Business Administration in management in multiple formats, including completely online. Students can choose whether they want to focus on human resources management or general business management.

Dr. Susie Cox, professor and chair of the Department of Management, speaks to the variety of options for management degree holders, even for those who are unsure of where they are headed in their careers.

“When you get a management degree, you may not know exactly what you want to do, but you know you want to be in business, or you want to be in the management of a business,” Cox said. “So for many students the choice is, ‘What industry to I want to go into,’ rather than, ‘I want to be a manager.’ We see our students in a variety of industries, a variety of jobs, [and] levels within the organization. You determine your own destiny when you get a management degree.”

The management faculty offer the added benefit of experience within the online environment, Cox adds. “Specifically for [the College of Business], we were teaching this in an online environment for over a decade now. So we have professors that are very comfortable managing online classrooms.” She points out that nearly half of the students within the online business programs are considered “non-traditional” in the sense that they are working adults who study part time.

woman on laptop outside The flexible format of the online management program also makes it an excellent option for traveling students. “We have several students that began their programs here at UA Little Rock, and they chose to move out of state. They are able to continue their degree,” Cox said. “We have people in Louisiana, in California, [and] in Washington DC that are in our program because they have an attachment to UA Little Rock. They want to finish their degree with UA Little Rock, and we are offering that now with the online campus.”

The BBA in management is a 120-hour degree program that “prepares students for professional leadership positions in small businesses, corporations, and government,” according to the Department of Management website. Management majors gain the knowledge and skills to prepare them for positions such as general manager, project manager/specialist, employee relations manager, and training specialist.

The human resources emphasis “focuses on the development of knowledge and applied skills in managing people and solving people-related problems.” Students are prepared for entry-level careers in human resource management and for management roles in organizations of all sizes. Students explore topics such as the legal environment of employee relations, employee training and development, employee productivity improvement, and union-management relations.

Cox expresses genuine pride in the management faculty and department. “It’s the strength and experience and concern that our faculty have for students,” she said. “The online experience will be very valuable. Our faculty are very engaged in our online classes. We get great feedback… Our faculty are accustomed to teaching online and know how to engage students. It’s different.”

To explore the business degree programs available through UA Little Rock Online, including the BBA in management, please visit our “Business Programs” page at

The future of college textbooks is open

Stack of books and laptop on wooden tableFor many students and parents, the cost of college textbooks may come as a surprise. A study published by the General Accountability Office in 2013 revealed that textbook costs rose 82 percent between 2002 and 2012. The National Association of College Stores (NACS) says the average college student will spend $655 on textbooks each year. The frustration that comes with these rising costs has motivated educators to provide more affordable and accessible academic resources for their students.

What are Open Educational Resources?

Open Educational Resources (OER) are defined by the Hewlett Foundation as “teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use and repurposing by others. OER include full courses, course materials, modules, textbooks, streaming videos, tests, software, and any other tools, materials, or techniques used to support access to knowledge.”

Using OER in higher education varies greatly from class to class. Some teachers may use OER by showing a video, while others design their course around curated material. In many cases, OER are simply used to enhance personal knowledge and learn about topics related to academic research. For students, OER can complement a course they are taking. One example of OER is MERLOTx, a student portal of free online material including learning modules, online courses, and online textbooks. A student can find textbooks on art, business, science and technology, and even workforce development.

Historically, faculty members and students had limited options with course materials and textbooks, relying primarily on publisher content. However, OER initiatives at colleges and universities around the world are growing rapidly. The Instructional Technology Council, a national leader in distance education, started tracking open education impact in 2012. An annual survey showed that member institutions reported a 20 percent growth in OER adoption. Karen Gardner-Athey, a faculty member of the non-profit Online Learning Consortium, said that “OER textbooks will become the norm in higher education within the next 3-5 years.”
O.E.R. graphic

OER at UA Little Rock

With OER initiatives growing worldwide, it’s no surprise that UA Little Rock has developed its own in recent years. The university’s eLearning and Collections & Archives units in May 2017 cosponsored an OER Alternative Textbook Mini Grant competition, which encouraged faculty to adopt existing OER material, create their own content, or curate a blend of both, for their course instruction.

Dr. David Montague, Director of eLearning and Scholarly Technology & Resources, is also a professor of criminal justice and member of the UA Little Rock OER Task Force. Montague acknowledges the difficulties students may face with gaining access to course material at the beginning of the semester. In addition to time and financial constraints, there are moments when a textbook is not in stock or a student purchases the wrong edition. In these situations, OER can be a helpful tool. “OER doesn’t have to mean everything’s open education resource. For me it’s more important to have some material in [the course] at the beginning to get the student out of the gate, so the pressure is not on them as much, and the professor knows everyone had access to it …,” Montague said.

Montague said he believes the grant gives faculty a way to think in more innovative ways about student success. “With my graduate course that I have right now, it’s a policy course. I was using a book that’s almost $150 for the book,” he said. “It’s a really good book, but at the last minute I said, ‘You know what? I think I’m gonna take a tip from what we talked about [in the task force]. I’m going to use OER content for my own course.’ So that’s what I did.”

Montague said he also hopes the grant encourages collaboration among UA Little Rock faculty.

The recipients of the mini grant, which were announced May 31, will present their OER content in an Open Educational Resources Workshop in Fall 2017 and participate in Open Education Week at UA Little Rock in Spring 2018.

For more information on how OER can support your education (and to see a handy list of OER) check out

eLearning librarian tackles challenges facing online students

Authors Note: If you (like Cori) are an audio learner, please check out our short recording of the interview where Cori discusses ILL and OER, along with some advice she’s learned while on her path as an online student and librarian.

UA Little Rock eLibrarian Cori

UA Little Rock eLibrarian Cori takes some time to answer a few questions. What is an interlibrary loan? What does OER stand for? Last but not least, any advice for online students? Music: The Gold Lining by Broke For Free is licensed under a Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives (aka Music Sharing) 3.0 International License.

Cori Schmidtbauer knows firsthand the difficulties that online students face. Born and raised in California, she earned her Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) degree online through San Jose State University. Since October 2016, she has been the eLearning Librarian in Ottenheimer Library at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, where she is also earning her Master of Education in Learning Systems Technology degree online.

As the eLearning Librarian, Cori is interested in making the lives of online students easier. With collaboration from a colleague, she conducted a survey in Fall 2016 to assess online students’ awareness of library services and resources that are available to them. It turns out that many students were not aware of certain services, such as Interlibrary Loan (ILL).

What is an Interlibrary Loan (ILL)?

“An interlibrary loan is a service that we offer to our students… [it is] the borrowing and lending of materials between libraries, and so if we do not own something here at Ottenheimer then we can request it from somewhere else – a different library, and that library can be local, within the town, within the state, within the country, or internationally as well.  

But we do have other sources for those who do not live locally or maybe live next to another university and are taking classes here at UA Little Rock. It’s called ARKLink, and [students] can request to have a special card [mailed] to them, and that will allow them to physically visit a university or college library within that ARKLink consortium and check out the materials.”

Open Educational Resources

Cori is also involved in the Open Educational Resources (OER) Task Force at UA Little Rock. The task force consists of people from Ottenheimer Library, eLearning, Scholarly and Technology Resources, and Student Affairs. Their goal includes trying to find alternative materials and resources that are open and freely accessible.

“We’ve been trying to encourage our instructors here to use those materials in their classes, and especially if they are [teaching] online classes, because students in online classes are virtual – digital. Why do they need a physical book? So that has been one of the goals, and we recently did a little mini grant as an incentive for instructors to encourage them to use this. The grant was kind of modeled after UA Fayetteville and they had a great success with that.”

[For information on the 2017 UA Little Rock mini grant award winners, check out

Any advice for online students?

“You really have to know yourself first. What are you able to do, and what will your personal or work life allow you to do? You know you’re capable of going above and beyond, but does your personal and professional circumstance allow you to do that?

Number one – You have to be able to manage yourself and your time, because nobody’s going to do it for you. You’re going to have different types of instructors who have different teaching styles. Knowing ourselves – what learning styles do we have? I’m an audio/visual person … if there are no visuals then I prefer audio and listening. You know, in my experience though, many instructors in online classes will provide an audio recording of a lecture with a Power Point – so you still get that audio sensory learning there.

Second piece advice I would have is don’t be afraid to ask questions, and don’t be afraid to communicate with your instructor or with your peers … because that communication is key. And if you have a question, and especially if there is an open discussion board that you can post that question to … you may not be the only person with that question. If you’re confused, other people may be confused. If you know the answer – to help somebody out – feel free to help your classmate out.”

Cori can be reached at 501.569.8811 or To see some of the videos that Cori has produced and curated, visit

For more information on ILL, please visit us at and for more information on OER, please visit us at

Blackboard Student Support


At Your Fingertips: Blackboard Student Support

By now, you’re probably at least familiar with the concept of “online courses.” However, you may be wondering “How do I access my online courses, and who’s going to help me if I have a problem?”

Blackboard is UA Little Rock’s online learning management system where students can access their course work, such as assignments, media, tests, and grades. You can also communicate with your classmates and instructors through the Blackboard interface via discussions, messaging, and video collaboration.

Blackboard’s technology accommodates a variety of learning environments. While students who take classes on campus may use Blackboard as a digital extension of their classroom, for fully online students, Blackboard is the classroom.

One example of how online students can have an engaging classroom experience without ever stepping foot on campus is through Blackboard Collaborate. Collaborate allows you to engage in real-time discussions with your classmates and instructors using a chat-room format with webcams, microphones, and screen-sharing, creating a face-to-face experience as if you were in a physical classroom together.

Because the technology is potentially new to many students, UA Little Rock offers Blackboard Student Support to assist those who may struggle with accessing or navigating their online courses. Some of the resources offered through UA Little Rock’s Blackboard Student Support include:

Blackboard Orientation

New students are encouraged to attend a Blackboard orientation workshop at the beginning of their first semester. Thirty-minute sessions are offered on campus in Dickinson Hall, Room 101, during the first week of the fall and spring semesters. If you’re unable to make it to campus or need a quick refresher, check out the online orientation on the Blackboard Student Support website at or the optional “Blackboard Student Orientation” course your “Courses” module in Blackboard.

Blackboard Student Support Website

You can find answers to most of your Blackboard-related questions on the Blackboard Student Support website. Here you’ll find the online Blackboard orientation with video tutorials, written step-by-step “how-to” guides, support articles, and more. Make sure to visit and bookmark so you’ll have quick access to these resources throughout the semester.

Blackboard Student Support Staff

If you still can’t find what you’re looking for, the website also features a support request form and phone number to contact our support team directly. Located on UA Little Rock’s main campus in Dickinson Hall, Room 105, our Blackboard Student Support team is dedicated to helping you troubleshoot your online courses, either in person or at a distance. You can stop by the office or call between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, or email anytime throughout the week. Please note: Support staff will try to respond to your support request within 24 hours, excluding weekends and U.S. holidays.
Visit to contact our support staff.

UALR Students Help Preserve Veterans Oral History

A group of students at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock are participating in a project that will help bring veteran stories to a new generation.

Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., (L) and Dr. Sherry Robertson.
Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., (L) and Dr. Sherry Robertson.
The Veterans History Project is a program of the Library of Congress American Folklife Center where the first hand, oral histories of veterans, along with pictures or artifacts, are collected and preserved. The project relies on veteran volunteers to contribute their stories.

Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., visited UALR on March 23 to talk with students, faculty, and veterans about the importance of the project.

“These gentleman, this group, really didn’t talk a whole lot about the war. So, that’s another reason that it’s so important. They just came back, and not only rebuilt our country, but they provided the security for Europe as they rebuilt,” Boozman said—referring to World War II veterans.

“There’s so many great reasons for doing this,” he continued. “It’s good for our veterans. It’s good for history, to make it such that we keep this stuff for generations to follow.”

Boozman’s office is responsible for promoting and delivering the stories collected on behalf of Arkansas to the Library of Congress.

Twenty-five UALR Donaghey Scholars are participating in the project through an honors composition class. The students will be interviewing veterans across the state and submitting their accounts. Anyone who has had the Veterans History Project training is permitted to collect veteran accounts.

The Library of Congress does not verify the accuracy of these accounts, but according to the VHP website, these stories are not meant to replace official record of the federal government or of military service.

So far, UALR has plans to interview 15 World War II veterans; however, there are 250,000 veterans in the state of Arkansas—which gives students plenty of stories to collect.

ICYMI – Watch the video of Sen. Boozman’s visit to UALR:

Mindfulness Group Aims to Abate Student Stress

“In the past, as a child, we used to breathe better. We didn’t worry about the future. We stayed in the present—playing and enjoying life. So, maybe it’s time to go back.” – Cai Carvalhaes

We’re halfway through the semester, and this time of the year can often be stressful for students. Luckily, there’s a way to defuse some of that tension and anxiety through UALR’s “Mindfulness Group.”

Cai Carvalhaes with UALR Counseling Services demonstrates a mindfulness exercise.
Cai Carvalhaes with UALR Counseling Services demonstrates a mindfulness exercise.
You may be asking, “What is mindfulness?” The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines it as “the practice of maintaining a nonjudgmental state of heightened or complete awareness of one’s thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis.”

Cai Carvalhaes, a clinical social worker intern with UALR Counseling Services, leads the Mindfulness Group once a week. She says mindfulness is the ability to live in the present moment, and practicing mindfulness is useful for those who frequently experience stress and anxiety. In her group, she teaches exercises that focus on breathing and body movements. You are guided to concentrate on certain parts of your body—from head to feet— and become aware of what you’re feeling. When this awareness is achieved, she says, you’re able to release your emotions and feel more in control of the challenges that life presents you.

Carvalhaes, who is also a yoga instructor, began to feel anxious and experience panic attacks about eight years ago. Knowing she needed to do something about it, but not wanting to take medicine, she began to study mindfulness.

The idea of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction was developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn in 1979 at the University of Massachusetts Medical School as a means to complement traditional treatments for a number of ailments ranging from anxiety to cancer.

Carvalhaes combines her experience with yoga and mindfulness in her teachings for the group.

Carvalhaes began the Mindfulness Group at UALR in January 2016, and says the student feedback has been positive so far. She uses psychometric scales to measure a student’s level of stress before and after the exercises. The results show that after the group meets, most students show a reduced level of stress and anxiety. Carvalhaes recognizes that students may develop symptoms of stress even after going through the mindfulness exercises, but regular practice can help reduce these symptoms over time.

“It’s necessary to practice,” she said. “If you don’t practice you won’t feel the effects. It takes a while sometimes, but anyone can do it.”

Carvalhaes said she tells her students to breathe in and out while they relax their minds, and the participants often feel better while in this state, even though they may not understand why.

“In the past, as a child, we used to breathe better. We didn’t worry about the future. We stayed in the present—playing and enjoying life. So, maybe it’s time to go back,” Carvalhaes said.

The UALR Mindfulness Group meets at noon every Wednesday in the Donaghey Student Center room 201T. It’s open to all UALR students, faculty, and staff.

Can’t make it to campus? Cai demonstrates one mindfulness exercise you can practice at home:

Mindfulness Exercise – UALR Online

Cai Carvalhaes, a clinical social worker intern with UALR Counseling Services, demonstrates a typical mindfulness exercise she might perform in her weekly Mindfulness Group.

Watch the video below for more from our interview with Cai:

Mindfulness – UALR Online

Cai Carvalhaes, a clinical social worker intern with UALR Counseling Services, talks about how practicing mindfulness can help students deal with every-day stress.

UA Little Rock Bookstore

At Your Fingertips: UA Little Rock Bookstore

UALR Bookstore – UALR Online

UALR Bookstore manager Brenda Thomas says her store offers convenient, affordable services to students both online and on campus.

At the beginning of every semester, there’s always one thing that students have to do – buy books. Luckily, the UA Little Rock Bookstore has everything students need, from books and supplies to university apparel.

The UA Little Rock Bookstore is owned and operated by Barnes & Noble and has been active on campus for 20 years. Bookstore manager Brenda Thomas has been working at the campus bookstore for 15 of those years, and she said that the UA Little Rock Bookstore’s purpose is to take care of a student’s book-related needs—whether that student be on or off campus.

Textbook search toolAs more online degree programs and courses become available, more students are ordering their textbooks online as well. UA Little Rock students can easily find and order their books through the user-friendly search tool at by selecting “Textbooks> Find Textbooks” and searching for books based on department and class.

“We have quite a few students who take online classes,” Thomas said. “They place their orders, and then we get their orders shipped to them.”

Thomas said the ability to ship books to students at a fixed shipping rate of $7.50 – no matter how many books are purchased – is a plus for students taking classes online and even for those who aren’t. In fact, the bookstore does more shipping than it does pick-up orders, according to Thomas, and orders within the state of Arkansas are shipped within 24 hours.

“I think it’s growing more because you have a lot of students that just place an order online, even if they live on University [Avenue], because it’s a convenience.”

In addition to being able to purchase books online, students may also rent their books online through the UA Little Rock Bookstore. The store will ship the rented book to the student, and when student is done with the book, they can return the book in store or simply print out a shipping label and ship it back through the mail for no additional charge.

Thomas said she tries to keep the bookstore content fresh—whether that’s through participating in events like Grad Fest or having giveaways.

“Every semester, we like to bring in something that we didn’t have before,” Thomas said. “That way, when they come in here they always see something new.”

You can browse the UA Little Rock Bookstore’s offerings and promotions at

Veteran Student Success

At Your Fingertips: Veteran Student Success

The Office of Veterans Affairs has made it its mission to help military veterans and their eligible dependents achieve academic success at UALR. Accredited by the Veterans Administration, the UALR Veterans Affairs office assists military students and dependents with the enrollment process and files the necessary paperwork to ensure that they receive their educational benefits.

Kathy Oliverio, the director of Veteran Student Success at UALR, said that the UALR Veterans Affairs office essentially works with the student veteran to make sure their tuition is paid.

“Our Veterans Affairs office is the go-to place for anyone who is on the VA educational benefits. Any veteran will go there, and it will be the starting point for them to get their educational benefits to start, and then to continue, and to be certified,” Oliverio said. “In essence, they’re the money folks. They’re the people who allow our veterans to actually have their education paid for.”

The UALR Veterans Affairs office also serves as an ambassador between the veteran student and UALR administration, offering support in special situations that may require individual adjustments.

Oliverio — a veteran herself, having served 20 years in the United States Air Force — said that she works closely with veteran students in her role as well.

“I look out for the veteran on the academic side of the house. I make sure that the veteran, once they get to UALR, and sometimes even prior to, that they graduate, that they stay in school, that they get any help that they need — whether it’s tutoring or guidance as far as what classes they take,” she said. “I advise veteran students. Sometimes, they just like to talk to another veteran.”

Oliverio noted that the needs of the online veteran student are no different than those who attend the physical campus in Little Rock, and the university is committed to helping its veteran students no matter where they complete their studies. “A lot of our online students are active-duty, Air Force military,” Oliverio said. The online classes benefit active-duty military, because there are occasions when a student will be unable to complete face-to-face classes due to military obligations.

In fact, UALR currently has active-duty military students in Korea, the United Kingdom, and scattered throughout the U.S., according to Oliverio.

“Online is perfect for them,” Oliverio said. “No matter where they go in the world, they can access everything they need to do.”

For more information about the services UALR offers its military students, please visit the Veteran Student Success site at

University Writing Center

At Your Fingertips: University Writing Center

College is often more about honing one’s skills than producing a final result. For the past 35 years, the University Writing Center at UALR has provided support for students who wish to improve their academic writing abilities and, as a result, produce more well-written compositions.

The Writing Center staff work with students across all majors and are committed to providing quality feedback to help students improve the clarity of their writing.

Dr. Allison Holland, director of the University Writing Center, said that the goal of the Writing Center isn’t to edit or fix a student’s work; the goal is to provide guidance to students, so they can eventually work on their own.

“You work with the writer not the paper, and a lot of people say, ‘You fixed my paper for me.’ And the answer is: there is no fixing of a paper,” Holland said. “To you this is one paper among many papers you might write over the course of your career as a student. We want to think about this as one of a progression of things that you will do.”

In addition to Holland, the Writing Center is staffed by student interns who will look over your paper with you. Holland made it clear that they don’t proofread, but rather give suggestions on how to improve your work.

“We offer a free service to students who come from across the curriculum, who bring in papers they need to work on for their assignments–whether they’re research projects or personal pieces. And we work on them from the beginning to the end of those processes. We don’t edit and proofread their papers, but we can help them brainstorm, get started, and generate ideas,” Holland said.

Students who are taking online classes can submit papers to the Writing Center staff electronically through the Online Writing Lab (OWL).

It’s important to divulge as much information as possible about your assignment if you’re submitting it online, the OWL website states. Interns usually take about 48 hours to respond to submissions submitted through the OWL, so you should plan accordingly when submitting your drafts.

Whether you’re seeking assistance in person or online, it’s clear that the Writing Center staff are eager to help you succeed; however, you must also be willing to make the effort.

“If you’re going to have someone climb a rock wall, it’s good to have a rope on them to help pull them up as they go; but the truth is they still have to use their hands and feet to get to the top. We’re someone who stands beside a writer and talks about different options they might have—for places they can put their hands or feet or organizational development,” Holland said. “And we encourage them to climb, but we climb with them.”

Disability Resource Center

At Your Fingertips: Disability Resource Center

man using sign language in front of camera
Clint Brockway signs during a Spring 2014 commencement ceremony at UALR.

“The failing is not on the part of the student with the disability,” Reed Claiborne, an access consultant with the Disability Resource Center, said. “The failing would be on not providing accessibility.”

The Disability Resource Center (DRC) is one of the many resources available to UALR students both on campus and at a distance. The DRC works with faculty and students to make sure facilities and resources are accessible to students who need them.

Claiborne said that the focus of the DRC is not so much the student’s disability but the barriers that a student may face as a result. For example, a student on campus may have mobility issues, and the elevator isn’t working. The elevator is the barrier. Of course, the DRC’s work spans further than infrastructure. If a student has difficulty hearing and the course requires lectures, then the DRC coordinates with interpreters to provide that student the access they need.

The DRC also works with online students. Reed said interpreters are sometimes needed for online lectures as well. If a video doesn’t have subtitles, the DRC can transcribe the video for that purpose. There are also instances of students with visual disabilities needing materials that would typically be put into a picture or .pdf format typed out for them, so their devices can appropriately read the materials to them.

Students are getting involved too. UALR has a “Students Beyond Barriers” Facebook group where students communicate and share technological innovations regarding disabilities. Claiborne mentioned a time when a student in the Facebook group shared a link about a watch that reads braille, for example.

The DRC is working diligently to provide accessibility to students who need it. However, Claiborne made it clear that the ultimate goal is to create a classroom environment, online or otherwise, that accommodates all students. “If the class is already designed where (students) don’t have to jump through hoops,” he said, “everyone has done their job.”

If you need assistance or would like to learn more, visit the DRC website at

Ottenheimer Library

At Your Fingertips: Ottenheimer Library

UALR Ottenheimer LibraryThe Ottenheimer Library website is among many online resources available for UALR students. Not only can you search for materials from the Ottenheimer Library online, but you can also find articles and materials through a number of academic databases, research guides and journals organized by subject matter, and reserved course materials. Additionally, the Ottenheimer Library offers several services at a distance that many students may not know about.

Research Assistance

The library’s helpful staff makes life easier for distance learning students at UALR. If you need help with research, the staff is more than willing to help through the Internet. Through the library’s “Ask Ottenheimer Library” page, students can call, chat, email, and even text library staff for assistance.
You can also request a consultation appointment with a librarian – in-person or remotely. Library staff have Blackboard Collaborate services available, which allow you to live chat with library staff while sharing your computer screen. This may help you and the library staff communicate more effectively and make it easier for them to render service in some cases.

Resource Shipment

Do you live more than 50 miles away from the UALR campus? If so, you may be eligible to have resource materials shipped to your home. The library staff can even scan articles or chapters for you. This service is a major plus for those students who live too far away from campus—making driving to the library unfeasible. The library’s website lists counties that are generally ineligible for this service.

Interlibrary Loan Service (ILLiad)

Using this service, students can have articles and books shipped from other libraries, through the WorldCat database, to the Ottenheimer Library. It only takes the Ottenheimer staff 24 hours to process each order. Once the order arrives, you’ll be able to pick it up at the Ottenheimer Library, or if you live more than 50 miles from campus, the Ottenheimer staff can have the materials shipped to you. The delivery time varies, so plan accordingly. Order requests may be made through the library’s website.


The Central Arkansas Library System (CALS) is another useful resource for UALR Online students. CALS has over 1 million resources available for check out—including books, magazines, movies, and games. With the ArkReach service, students can check out materials from CALS and have them delivered to the Ottenheimer Library for pickup. And as mentioned before, if a student lives more than 50 miles away from campus, the Ottenheimer Library can have CALS resources shipped to your home. All you need is a CALS card, which you can request at The form only takes a few minutes to fill out, and it’s worth doing to have access to CALS resources.

Access To Other Libraries

This may come as a surprise to many, but as a UALR student, you have access to other libraries across the state. By using an ARKLink card, you can go to participating academic libraries and check out materials. A list of participating libraries is available at
Applying for a card is simple; just fill out a short form on the Ottenheimer Library’s website. It only takes the library staff 24 hours to create the card, and then they can mail it to your residence or you can pick it up at the library.

So whether you need help with a research paper or access to a multitude of academic media, UALR’s Ottenheimer Library is equipped to help both online and on-campus students succeed.

For more information, including the library’s operating hours, visit

‘Reinventing the Classroom’

Harvard Professor Discusses Experimental Course Design in Clinton School Lecture

Harvard Professor Harry Lewis speaks Jan. 12 at the Clinton School of Public Service in Little Rock.
Harvard Professor Harry Lewis speaks Jan. 12 at the Clinton School of Public Service in Little Rock.
“The Internet is changing education. What are universities going to do about it?”
Harry Lewis, the Gordon McKay Professor of Computer Science in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Harvard University, posed this question in his Jan. 12 lecture, “Reinventing the Classroom, Rethinking Education,” at the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service.

Lewis’s lecture focused on the advent of the Internet and its effect on typical lecture halls at universities across the United States.

Lewis asserted that access to the Internet has lessened the need for teachers, because more frequently people are using the Internet as their primary resource for learning. This practice negates the “hydraulic model” for education, which describes how an instructor takes information from its source and transmits it to his or her students, Lewis said.

More universities are using digital media, such as video lectures and tutorials, to educate students, according to Lewis. He said that while he agrees digital media and the Internet are valuable tools for education, there’s still a need for social interaction among students. Lewis wanted to increase student presence and engagement during lectures. So, instead of doing what a typical professor might do, such as removing the video curriculum or issuing pop quizzes, he took a different approach and altered the way his classroom environment works.

Lewis developed a class called CS 20, “Discrete Mathematics for Computer Science.” Unlike other computer science courses at Harvard, where students gather in a lecture hall to listen to their professors, the environment in CS 20 allows students to spend their time in class solving problems together, thus creating a more engaging format learning environment, Lewis said. The digital media provides the lecture, and the students use classroom to discuss and apply the course topics.

Lewis admits that the course is experimental, but the results have been positive. This is true, at least, from the students’ point-of-view. Lewis read a few examples of the anonymous feedback he’s received so far. In general, the students seemed to really enjoy the environment and the problem-solving activities. Lewis said that even the negative responses were somewhat positive; one example he gave was from a student who did not like Lewis’s instruction but enjoyed the classroom environment and the teaching assistants.

Lewis says that lectures aren’t going anywhere, but the positive feedback he’s received is a result of an environment that encourages creativity, skepticism, and teamwork. Coming from a person whose high-profile students include Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg, it could be an experiment worth trying.

To watch Lewis’s Clinton School lecture, visit


Top 5 Tips to Prepare for Finals

woman studyingPreparing for final exams can be stressful for any student, but it doesn’t have to be. These practical study tips will help you get through even the toughest exams calmly and confidently every time.

Choose a time and place

In today’s world, distractions are easy to come by. If you want to make the most of your study time, first you need to schedule some time for studying. You’ll want to choose a time when you’re most alert and least distracted. If this is in the morning, try waking up an hour earlier to study before school or work. If it’s in the evening, make sure to pick a time when you’re not too tired or have other responsibilities to worry about.

Once you’ve determined the best time to study, find a quiet place where you won’t be distracted, such as a home office, library or coffee shop. If silence is too distracting to you, try listening to white noise (like a fan) or soothing instrumental music. Avoid TV and social media websites, and silence and put away your cell phone.

Start early

Most of the anxiety you might feel in the days before finals is often a result of procrastination. If you dedicate an hour every day to review your course materials throughout the semester and start studying for finals several days in advance, you’ll feel much more confident come test time.
Keep track of your old tests and quizzes and use them as your study guides, as those topics will likely reappear on your final exams.

Break it up

Cramming a lot of subjects into several hours at a time will overload your brain and cause fatigue, which will make it difficult for you to retain and recall important information during your tests. If you start studying early, you’ll have time to break up your study sessions into manageable chunks.
Work on one subject for 45 minutes to an hour, then take a short break. Allow your mind to recover during your breaks — grab a healthy snack, do light exercises, or rest your eyes and listen to music. However, try not to watch TV or surf the Internet during this time. Not only will this overstimulate your mind, but it may make it more difficult for you to start studying again.

Use study methods that work for you

People learn in different ways, and therefore should study in a way that works best with their learning style. Visual learners may benefit more from using color-coded flash cards, rewriting notes, or drawing pictures to illustrate ideas, while auditory learners may prefer listening to recordings of their lectures and reciting word associations. Take this short quiz to find out your learning style and related study tactics. Once you find the study method that works for you, test preparation will be a lot easier.

Healthy body=healthy mind

After all the time you’ve spent preparing for your exams, you don’t want to let physical factors like fatigue or illness keep you from doing your best.
• Go to bed early and try to get 7-8 hours of sleep each night, especially on the nights before your exams.
• Try to exercise for 30 minutes a day, and maintain physical activity while you study. Even light cardio and calisthenics will keep your blood circulating, delivering important nutrients to your brain.
• Eat balanced meals and take vitamins, if you can. Don’t skip breakfast! Avoid alcohol and “junk foods.”

What study tactics work best for you? Share your ideas in the comments!

Study tips for this article were contributed by Alyssa C. and Jeffrey Townley in the UALR Writing Center; Leah Jackson with the UALR TRIO Program; Aaron Jones with the Charles W. Donaldson Scholars Academy; Rachel Hook and Charles Bryant of UALR eLearning.

Professors: A Student’s Greatest Resource for Success

male professorA variety of free resources are available at UALR to help students succeed in their courses, such as the Ottenheimer Library and Online Writing Lab. However, one of the most significant resources students have is often overlooked and underutilized—professors.

Developing professional relationships with your professors can be beneficial in more ways than just academic. Aside from gaining valuable academic advice related to your coursework, most professors regularly interact with other individuals in their field or industry. Having an amicable relationship with your professors can lead to opportunities both inside and outside the academic realm.

Professors are people too.

Many students are intimidated or put off by their professors. The truth is, professors are people who happen to be knowledgeable and passionate about a particular field of study. If you take the time to talk to them about their field, you’ll find they are often very enthusiastic about sharing their experiences with you.

Take advantage of their posted office hours.

Typically, professors have a designated time during the week in which they are available on campus or online to speak with students individually. This is the perfect opportunity to seek additional guidance within a course, ask questions about a topic you don’t understand, or discuss papers and projects. Some students also use this time to build rapport with professors by asking about upcoming events, industry functions, or campus lectures which provide an opportunity for students to network with industry professionals in their field of study.

It is okay to ask for help, but be prepared to do the work.

Most professors are happy to offer academic assistance to students, especially those willing to make the effort. That being said, know what it is you do not understand. If the professor asks you what it is you don’t understand, be prepared to tell them specifically or you may come off as not willing to try.

Forget excuses.

Chances are your professor has heard them all before. Not only that, but making excuses makes you look irresponsible. Just be honest—without going into too much detail—if you missed an exam or assignment. Let them know you would like to make up the work, but be prepared for some brutal honesty. Some professors don’t allow make-up exams or late assignments, so you might just have to accept your grade and work harder on the remaining assignments.

Be respectful.

When you talk with your professors, do so in a professional way. Use their title when you address them in conversation if they have one. Even if you are upset with a particular professor, always be respectful and calm. Yelling, whining, and making threats just make you look immature and build barriers to productive communication. Remember, respect is a two-way street—you have to give respect to get respect.

Talk to them about common interests.

You can try starting with topics discussed in the course. Professors often share their personal experiences in a particular field of study or with research they have conducted. Ask instructors for more information about topics you find interesting, and don’t be afraid to share your related experiences or knowledge with them. Not only will you learn something fascinating, but it could lead to internships and other opportunities.

If you can, attend any special lectures or events they are hosting.

UALR sponsors several events throughout the academic year that are often sponsored by particular departments and hosted by professors. Not only will it give you a chance to interact with your professors in a casual environment outside of the classroom, but it may also allow you to make contacts within your field or industry of interest. Online students may especially benefit from attending these events, since very few face-to-face interactions—if any—occur in the online classroom. You’re more likely to establish a deeper connection with your professors if they can put a face to a name.

Keep in touch.

When the semester is over, don’t let your new professional relationships fall by the wayside. You can take more courses with your professors, continue to attend their events, email or call them during office hours, and maybe even connect with them on social media. Many UALR departments, programs and clubs also have Facebook groups or pages that you can follow for further discussions and networking opportunities.

Time-Management Tips for Student Success

Cartoon about time management with kidsBetween school, work, family and social obligations, finding time to get everything done can be a challenge. This is especially true for students taking online courses that have a lot of work-at-your-own-pace assignments. However, with a time-management plan this doesn’t have to be an obstacle. The following tips can help you develop a basic strategy for completing your online courses (and other tasks!), reduce stress and work more efficiently.

Get a planner or calendar.

Calendars are a great way to keep track of tests and assignment due dates. iStudiez Pro is one of many great digital options (you can also try the lite version for free), or you can order a traditional planner online through the UALR Bookstore when you order your textbooks.
Blackboard also has a built-in calendar feature that allows you to create date reminders. Read our Calendar tutorial for more information about the Blackboard Calendar.

Write things down.

You may want to get a dedicated notebook or a planner with a “notes” section for assignments. Whenever a new task or assignment comes up—like studying for a test or picking a paper topic—write it down. Not only will you have a physical reminder of the things that need to be done, but each new task will also encourage you to look over the other tasks that need to be completed.

Schedule your day.

Writing in her diaryThis is where you make the most use of the calendar and notebook mentioned above. Whenever you have a free moment, schedule a set time to complete each task. Be realistic about the amount of time needed to complete each task and schedule additional days if needed.

Some things to consider when scheduling your day to reduce information overload:

• Work in short, concentrated bursts spread out over the day or week rather than one long marathon session. Try to limit working on coursework to three hours or less as retention rapidly deteriorates after more than three hours of intense focus.

• Plan to start major projects the same week they are assigned and assignments the same day if possible and avoid the stress of getting things done at the last minute.

• Schedule breaks as well as study sessions. For every hour of intense focus, plan to take at least a one ten-minute break. This will reduce study fatigue.

• Plan your focused study around the time you feel most alert instead of most convenient. We are more alert in the mornings and afternoons and less so at night.
Block times for regular assignments.

• For assignments and tasks that occur daily or weekly, schedule a set block of time that you will complete these tasks every week. For example, you might decide to read your weekly journal article at 10 a.m. every Monday.

Break projects into manageable portions.

For big assignments and projects, think about the steps to complete the project and make those individual tasks. So instead of facing one insurmountable project, you can deal with several smaller tasks over a period of time.

Leave some wiggle room.

Plan to finish assignments at least a couple of days before the due date. This will give you some wiggle room should unforeseen circumstances arise.

10 Tips for Success in Online Courses

Have regular, reliable access to a computer and Internet service.

laptopdrop You should have at least one back-up computer—either personal or borrowed—in the event your primary computer goes down.
Additionally, you need to have a reliable way to access the Internet. It is strongly recommended that you use a wired broadband connection to access Blackboard, especially when taking exams or submitting assignments.

The Blackboard Student Support staff strongly advises against using wireless Internet cards that plug into your USB port. Every semester, there are students whose grades suffer because their wireless Internet cards lost connection during a crucial moment (e.g. during an exam or while they were uploading an assignment). With that said,…

Back-up your work.

Anything can happen. To avoid losing important assignments, projects, and portfolios, you should make it a habit to frequently back-up your work on something other than your computer’s hard drive. Keep a flash drive or external hard drive handy, and plug it in while you work on your assignments. You can save your latest versions there when you reach stopping points. If you want access to your work wherever you go, working in Google Drive is a reliable solution.

Start early; don’t wait until the last minute.

Liz Lemon gets the rainbow wheelGet an early start on your course work. It can be tempting to put off course work, especially if it is not due for a week or more. Just keep in mind that this work will need to be done eventually and the longer you wait to start, the greater the chance you’ll get overwhelmed with other assignments. If you start each assignment as soon as it become available, you’ll be less stressed and have more free time in the long run.

Even if you don’t start immediately, certainly don’t wait until the last minute to get things done. Time and time again, students run into problems at the last minute when submitting work, taking tests, or posting responses. You never know what’s going to happen in the future and waiting until the last minute is an invitation for trouble. Don’t be that student that missed an assignment because your computer crashed right before your assignment was due.

Develop a schedule.

The best way to stay on top of tasks is to develop a plan. Treat your online courses the same as a face-to-face course by scheduling a set time everyday to doing your online course work (e.g. reading lecture notes, watching course videos, working on assignments). Having a routine will help you stay focused and help avoid procrastinating.

Check your online course at least once a day.

Phone likeJust like you wouldn’t attend a traditionally class only one-third of the time, you should check your online courses at least one time everyday. This will help you stay current on class discussions and announcements posted by the instructor. Also, checking the course regularly will help you stay on task.

Test the course tools.

Becoming comfortable with the course tools and layout will save you a lot of headaches in the long run. Testing the course tools in advance is advantageous because it helps familiarize you with how those tools work before you will need to use them for class. This also allows plenty of time to troubleshoot problems without the added pressure of having an assignment due.


Being an active member of your class is crucial to succeeding in your online courses. Participating helps you retain information relevant to the course while exposing you to different perspectives that you may not have considered before. Participating in class is also a good way to get to know your fellow students, which can be harder to do in an online environment.

Something else to consider is instructors remember the students who actively participate in class discussions and ask thought-provoking questions. Being on an instructor’s radar can be a good thing, especially if you are looking to expand your professional and academic relationships.

Take advantage of online office hours.

April Ludgate asks for helpInstructors typically have a designated time during the week in which they are available on campus or online to speak with students individually and in small groups. During an instructor’s office hours, you have the unique opportunity to seek individual guidance within a course, ask questions about a topic you don’t understand, or discuss papers and projects. Most professors are happy to offer academic assistance to students, especially those willing to make the effort. That being said, if the professor asks you what it is you don’t understand, be prepared to tell them specifically or you may come off as not willing to try.

Ask for help.

Don’t hesitate to ask for help if you are having trouble in your online classes. Talk with your instructor and fellow students for help understanding the course content. Forming a study group is not only a great way to get help but also an avenue for connecting with your peers. As mentioned above, take advantage of your instructor’s office hours.

For general computer and campus systems (accessing the campus wireless network, email, and BOSS), you can contact the IT Services Help Desk. Be ready to supply them with your NetID or T-Number. The Blackboard Student Support office can provide you with assistance with UALR’s Blackboard system in the form of tutorials, email and telephone support services.

Be honest.

Test-takerPlagiarism and academic dishonesty are serious offenses with severe consequences including failing the assignment and even expulsion from the course or the university. And while it might be tempting to plagiarize or cheat in an online course, just keep in mind that you will probably get caught. Instructors have an uncanny sense when it comes to student writing and can usually tell if the work is original. In addition, UALR’s Blackboard system comes with a variety of tools to detect academic dishonesty.

Instead of resorting to cheating or plagiarism, follow some of the tips mentioned above. Don’t wait until the last minute, develop a schedule, and talk with your instructor or peers if you are struggling in a course. Just remember, you can bring up a grade or retake a course, but the consequences of academic dishonesty can have lasting effects on your chances at future employment.

Helpful Resources
  • 88 Surefire Tips for Succeeding in College — A really great article about enjoying your college years while taking advantage of the opportunities and resources that college has to offer.
  • Procrastination — Some tips on helping you understand why you procrastinate and offer some strategies on combating this bad habit.
  • A Survival Guide for Accelerated Online Courses — This is a great article especially if you are taking a summer course, but the tips can be used for any online course regardless of the term length.
  • What Makes a Successful Online Student — If you are serious about doing well in your online course, take a look at Illinois Online Network’s tips on what makes a successful online student.
  • Academic Integrity — Read UALR’s policies on academic integrity and dishonesty.