The Student Learning Commons is home to professional staff members who are specialists in their fields. We also hire graduate students who provide part-time writing and/or learning support.
Head, Student Learning Commons
Donna McGee Thompson
Donna joined the Student Learning Commons as a Learning Services Coordinator when it opened in 2006 and became Head of the department in August 2011. Prior to joining the SLC, Donna had served at SFU’s Health and Counselling Centre as Learning Skills Coordinator; Douglas College's Learning Centre (David Lam Campus) as Services Coordinator; and at Capilano College (now Capilano University) as Learning Specialist and faculty member. Over her career in the learning field, Donna has planned and delivered learning success programs, developed and facilitated training programs for peer educators, tutored and taught writing, run a pilot for an online tutoring program, and completed research and co-published articles on course-integrated learning instruction. Donna helped to develop the curriculum for the Back on Track Program and continues to be an instructor for BOT courses. She is also co-coordinator of the Academic Enhancement Program in the SFU School of Computing Science. Donna completed an undergraduate degree at SFU in Psychology (Honours) and a Master of Arts degree in Adult Education at the University of British Columbia.
Darcy is the first point of contact for students at the SLC Office in the Bennett Library (Burnaby), and also provides office support for our workshops, consultations, marketing campaigns, and many other activities.
Tim holds an M.A. (TESOL) and a B.Phys. Ed., both from UBC, and has many years of experience in the EAL/ESL field, both in Canada and in Japan. His SFU experience includes teaching in the Foundations of Academic Literacy course (FALx99) and at Fraser International College. Tim is currently a PhD student in the Languages, Cultures, and Literacies program in the Faculty of Education at SFU. His professional interests include critical ethnography, discourse analysis, and “generation 1.5”. Tim contributes to and participates in SLC activities such as individual consultations with students, developing and presenting workshops, consulting with faculty and other instructors, creating print and online resources and mentoring student peers, all with a focus on EAL support.
Learning Services Coordinators
Ruth has been with the SLC since 2007 and goes by many titles: Learning Services Coordinator, Back on Track Program Instructor, and co-Divisional Supervisor for the Learning and Writing Peer Educators. Ruth is a proud SFU alumna (M.Ed. in Counselling Psychology, 2003) and also holds a B.A. (Hons.) in Psychology from Carleton University and an LL.B. from the University of Ottawa. She has a diverse work history, including working on Parliament Hill and for the Federal Court of Canada, and practising as both a lawyer and a career counsellor (not at the same time). In 2015-16, Ruth undertook a number of leadership roles within and outside of SFU: Chair of SFU's Library Campaign Committee, Pacific Regional Director of the Learning Specialists' Association of Canada (LSAC), and Canadian Regional Representative for the College Reading and Learning Association (CRLA). Of the many roles Ruth has held in her life, her favourite is being Marisa's Mom.
Dal joined the Student Learning Commons in August 2011. Previously, she was the manager of SFU Peer Programs and worked with peer educators in various capacities for 10 years. Before working at SFU, Dal fuelled her interest in student program development working on international projects for the European University Association in Geneva, Switzerland. Prior to moving overseas, Dal worked for BC’s Ministry of Advanced Education and the Premier’s Youth Office. Dal is passionate about student development, performance coaching and lifelong learning. She is a certified professional coach trained in Emotional Intelligence and personality assessments including Myers-Briggs. She is the published author of "Peer Education: The impact of volunteering on students." Dal completed her BA (Criminology, Sociology) at SFU and has an MA in Leadership and Training from Royal Roads University.
Writing Services Coordinators
Renee is the Writing Services Coordinator at the Student Learning Commons(SLC). She has a BA in French Literature, with a Minor in English Literature, and an MA in Linguistics, both from the University of Texas at El Paso, and is working towards a PhD in Linguistics at SFU. She has a strong background in academic and technical writing, with research interests in second language acquisition and computer-assisted language learning. Renee McCallum comes to the SLC from the SFU School of Engineering Science, where she taught writing and communication courses and worked with individual undergraduate and graduate students on a variety of writing, presentation, and other communication skills.
Amanda started her writing life as a newspaper reporter in Toronto and Vancouver before receiving her BA and MA in English Language at UBC. After teaching writing and communication at UBC and Langara College, she studied rhetoric and professional communication at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York, where she received her PhD. She then served as assistant and associate professor at the University of Winnipeg's Centre for Academic Writing and helped develop the major program in Rhetoric, Writing, and Communications. When she moved back to the coast in 2006, she spent two years at Simon Fraser University as the SLC's first writing services coordinator. At UBC, she taught academic, business, and technical writing courses while designing online writing courses for the UBC Writing Centre. Amanda returned to the SLC in July 2013, where she focuses on developing and coordinating writing services for undergraduates.
Writing Services Associate
Julia first began working at the SLC in 2013 while she was completing her doctoral studies in Arts Education at SFU. As a Graduate Writing Facilitator, Julia designed and facilitated writing workshops, conducted learning plan meetings through the Back on Track program, provided online tutoring through the Write Away platform, and did one-on-one writing consultations with both undergraduate and graduate students. After completing her PhD in 2016, Julia was hired on as a full-time Writing Services Associate. As an SLC Associate, Julia's work is specifically focused on course-integrated writing workshops. In addition to her pursuits in academic writing, Julia is a performer who has studied a variety of approaches to theatre creation and acting, most extensively clown. Her clown performance training inspired her doctoral research, which focused on developing a clown-based approach to scholarship. She is passionate about bringing creativity and performativity into conversations about academic writing in order to make these topics more engaging, accessible, and - dare she say it? - fun. She invites students, faculty members, and staff from across the university to get in touch with her when they are looking to access, create, or improve course-integrated writing supports.
Cynthia joined SFU in October 2005 as the Coordinator of the Student Learning Commons at the Surrey campus. As Coordinator she organizes the campus' writing and learning skills workshops and--along with the Graduate Facilitators and Peer Educators she oversees--provides students with individual consultations in writing, learning skills, and in English conversation. She is part of the curriculum development team of the Student Success Program and teaches in the Back on Track program at both the Surrey and Burnaby campuses. She is committed to helping students at all levels achieve academic success. Cynthia has a Masters degree in Adult Education from the University of British Columbia and is a certified professional life coach.
Graduate Peer Learning/Writing Facilitators
Every term, the SLC hires a team of qualified SFU graduate students as part-time Graduate Peer Writing/Learning Facilitators.