As students enter the Coles Building, they’re greeted by a poster of Frederick Douglass that states, “Once you learn to read, you will forever be free.”
A vital and critical skill, good reading is an asset for anyone, and Del Mar College has a Reading Lab dedicated to helping students master the skill.
“We are here to support. We help students become ‘critical readers,’ especially students who are in reading and writing courses at the developmental level,” lab coordinator Forrest McDowell said.
The DMC Reading Lab offers many services for students including peer-tutoring, multiple computer stations, Disability Services, EOSL resources, vocab building, workshops and overall tips and strategies on how to improve comprehension.
According to McDowell, Del Mar has 400-500 students who are in a developmental reading or writing class each semester, and the lab is able to accommodate any who might need help.
“We have workshops, we have tutoring and we also have Smartboards for instructors to use,” he said.
Professors can bring an entire class to one of the two computer labs in the facility. There they can use not only the Read-On programs on the touchscreen computers, but also the Instructional Smartboards for lectures and other class media.
Ariana Escamilla, one of the lab assistants, said the lab is also open to everyone in the community.
“We even get physics majors who come in with their textbooks because they need help understanding what the question is exactly asking,” Escamilla said.
Lab Assistant Sheridon Dyer said the staff can help students in a number of ways.
“We can help peer-edit papers if need be, we can help with WebDMC and Canvas functioning, and we can even communicate with instructors on behalf of a student to clarify any misconceptions on the student’s part.”
Nikki Garcia, a peer-tutor at the lab, said their main point is to make sure students pass their courses.
“We focus on a lot of one-on-one to make sure it’s more personal. We can also help deaf students and students with other disabilities as well,” Garcia said.
Garcia, who is studying to be a nurse practitioner, said she used to come to the Reading Lab for help because she found the place to be very “cozy and comfortable, so you feel a lot more relaxed as a student.”
For students who want to relax a bit more, they can escape from their coursework by picking up a book from the stack of free ones in the lab.
There’s a variety of different books to pick from and McDowell says he encourages all students to come and read from their free lending library. He says he wants students to keep reading over and over as much as they can because “repetition is the key to becoming a better reader.”
Where: Coles Building, Room 121
Hours: 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday