Contributor: Kimberly LaComba, Director of the Learning Resource Center, Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College.

Ask your students to consider the following questions:

  1. What are the top three skills you have gained from this course that are most valuable to you?
  2. What skills have you gained from this course that you think would be most helpful to your friends outside of this class?

Students should work in small groups. Within their group, each student will discuss their responses to the questions and determine if there are any common skill themes. Once their common themes have been determined, you will present the following task to the students, who will work within their group, as follows:

  1. You have the opportunity to academically pay it forward to other students who did not take this course. Share the skills you have learned to help others succeed; just as those skills have and will continue to help you succeed.
  2. How will you reach out to other students?

Each group will present their ideas to the class. Some groups may develop similar ideas, and if so, they can either combine their groups for a joint outreach effort or continue as separate groups. Should they remain separate, they will need to focus on specific sets of students so that they don’t address their initiative to the same people multiple times.

Students should develop a master plan of how they will implement their outreach, to whom, and what materials they may need. Each group will present the final product to the instructor and class, during which time recommendations/comments are made. The groups will then make any necessary modifications before implementing their academically paying it forward initiative. The instructor should choose when the Academically Pay it Forward outreach will occur.

Note: Provide students with real-life examples of how Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College students academically paid it forward: “The Saint Mary-of-the-Woods students sent an email to fellow students with helpful tips based on the time management, study, and stress relief skills that they had learned in the course. They also provided goodie bags as a stress relief effort for students visiting the Learning Resource Center on Study Day (the day before finals). The instructor might also provide a small budget to the class, or to each group, as another way to implement additional critical thinking opportunities.

Kimberly LaComba is the Director of the Learning Resource Center at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College (SMWC) in Indiana. She earned both a Master of Science in Human Resource Management for Higher Education and a BS in Business Administration from Indiana State University. Kim has nine years of experience in higher education and five years of experience developing online tutoring programs. At SMWC she expanded the Learning Resource Center and currently teaches the college success course in the campus and distance programs (the latter of which she developed in an interactive course format to assist students in succeeding in the virtual college environment). Kim also teaches business courses, serves as ADA Advisor, leads the Academic Support Team, and has presented at various national and regional conferences. She works to motivate her students to reach their academic goals. Kim’s research interests include retention of academically at-risk students and motivation as an academic success qualifier. Visit Kimberly LaComba’s blog

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