Tutoring and Learning Center Strives to Meet Student Needs
Sarah McQueen
smcqu643@uwsp.edu

The Tutoring and Learning Center, located in the basement of the Albertson Center for Learning Resources, has expanded its hours and programs in an effort to support the university’s goal of making sure that student are able to complete all of their courses and graduate in a timely manner.

The Tutoring and Learning Center is a peer tutorial group, offering academic assistance in the writing labs in 42 majors and minors from over 130 trained student tutors. Tutoring is offered in several different forms: one-on-one tutoring; group tutoring; and the latest addition, supplemental instruction. Tutors help with writing papers, lab reports, using computer software and even with letters of complaint and personal statements. Most of the services offered are free to students.

“We have pockets of funding that cover one-on-one tutorials in math, science, accounting and some econ classes,” said Maureen Giblin, director of the Center. “Students who are on the low-income list do not have to pay. Non-traditional students, students working through the Vets club, and students of color do not have to pay—turns out that very few students actually have to pay the fee.”

For the few students who do not fall into one of the funded categories, there is a $9 charge for a one-hour session in math and science tutoring. Last year, out of the 2,248 students who were tutored in the Center, only 75 had to pay for one-on-one tutoring.

“When you come in here, you can expect to learn more than just the facts from a study guide,” said Joey Collard, a forestry major who has worked in the Center for four years. “You’ll find new ways to learn, new ways to study, and new ways to apply that knowledge.”

Students that are hired as tutors must have a grade point average of 3.5 or higher and complete a 300-level writing emphasis education course. Students are brought in from many different majors so that help can be offered in all areas needed.

“My favorite thing about working down here is that I get to take what I learn in the classroom and help other students get incorporated into the discipline,” said Devin Christensen, a master consultant in the writing lab. “It’s more than just teaching them content. It’s about teaching them how to be students in my field.”

The Student Government Association supplies funding for group tutoring, meaning students no longer have to pay the $10 fee that used to apply. Other funding comes from Diversity College Access and also in the form of institutional support.

“We did get some money for extended hours. We are now open until 8 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. That funding came from the provost. It’s one-time money, and we are now hoping to make that permanent so we can stay open.”

Giblin stated that Center has been full. Even with the extended hours, the demand keeps going up. There has been a 24 percent increase in individual tutoring in the last two years and a 59 percent increase in-group tutorials.

Some of the extra funding also went to cover one-on-one tutoring for students with learning disabilities, the Reading in the Disciplines program, and the new supplemental instruction program, where the tutor attends lectures with the students and meets with the students twice a week to discuss the material.

“We choose classes with the highest D’s/fail/withdraw (DFW) rates,” Giblin said. “We get that list from Records and Registration. It has data that is collected all the time on campus, and we can identify what courses have the highest risk. Any class with a DFW rate of 20 percent or higher—those are the classes that we target for supplemental instruction.”

The Center received funding for that program for this and next year but hopes to get continued funding for the program. As Giblin pointed out, most of that funding goes directly into the pockets of students in the form of salary.

“We are one of the largest student employers on campus,” Giblin said. “We have wonderfully talented people on this campus.”

The Center was recently voted the best place to work on campus.

“The Center is a beautiful gathering of all the best and brightest on campus,” Christensen said. “Often times, really intelligent folks work down here, people who are super nerdy like me and who really love school work. Really, I think that was the biggest attraction.”