An inside look the Tutoring and Academic Success Center

By Kelsey Allen

 

The Tutoring and Academic Success Center (TASC) hosted a hiring fair this past week that saw a turnout of 41 students over a 3 day span.

TASC hires throughout the semester as help is needed, but still runs a hiring fair each semester to get as many tutors, success coaches and Supplemental Instruction Leaders (also known as SI Leaders) hired as possible before winter and summer breaks.

Students must have a GPA of 3.0 or higher to qualify for employment at TASC. Additionally, tutors and SI leaders must have received an A in the course that they wish to focus their efforts on.

SM Bargeen Turzo, a graduate student working on his Masters in chemistry, is a relatively new tutor for TASC.  His experience so far has been relatively positive.

“I really like teaching chemistry to the students,” Turzo said. “It helps me polish my own knowledge of chemistry.”

This semester, TASC has about 100 student workers on staff — including 12 success coaches, 45-50 tutors, and about 40 Supplemental Instruction Leaders who are sometimes employed as tutors as well.

Students who feel that they are struggling academically but don’t know where to turn for help should consider starting with TASC. For help on one specific topic in a course, tutoring services are available. One-hour long group tutoring sessions with up to three students from the same section of a course are offered in the following subjects: Arabic, biology, chemistry, French, Italian, Japanese, Latin, music, physics, psychology, sociology, Spanish and speech & hearing. One-on-one tutoring sessions are also available if only one student from a section signs up for tutoring at that date and time.

Certain courses also offer Supplemental Instruction, lead by a Supplemental Instruction (SI) Leader. SI Leaders attend each course lecture and develop a lesson plan based on the material.

Study sessions involving group activities and collaboration are held outside of class 2-4 times a week, but they are not simply re-lectures. These sessions are meant to help students develop better studying strategies as well as become more independent learners.

SI is offered in select biology, chemistry, economics, physics and psychology courses.

Attending SI sessions is completely voluntary. Last year, the 1,500 students who attended SI sessions had GPAs averaging about 3.1, whereas students who did not attend SI sessions had GPAs averaging about 2.55.

Additionally, students attending SI sessions typically received at least one letter grade higher than students who did not attend SI sessions.

Tutors and SI Leaders usually work about 8 to 10 hours per week.

While SM Bargeen Turzo overall enjoys his tutoring job, he says that it comes with some downsides.

“I would prefer if the room did not [so frequently] get so crowded and loud,” Turzo said.

The main tutoring room is known to become clogged with students and tutors all throughout the semester. The weeks after syllabus week and just before finals week are the worst.

Chrissy Knapke, the director of TASC, is aware of the issue and is working with the university to expand the amount of TASC classrooms.

“I feel like we’re starting to kind of bust at the seams,” Knapke said. “Quite a few times a semester, all of our tables [in the tutoring center] are full and we’re not sure where to put everybody.”

While Knapke says room is definitely going to become an issue in the future, it’s being resolved and hasn’t become unmanageable.

“So far it hasn’t gotten to where we can’t handle it,” Knapke said.

While tutoring is the main part of what TASC does, it also offers other services to help students succeed, such as success coaching.

Success coaching, as opposed to tutoring or Supplemental Instruction, focuses not on academic courses but on strategies to help make the transition into college courses smoother for students.

Success coaches can help with note-taking, study skills, time management, test anxiety, stress management and memory and concentration, among other skills.

Students attending their first success coaching sessions will take the LASSI (Learning and Study Strategies Inventory) Assessment to see what study and life skills need improvement. Categories in which students score a 50 percent or below are the categories that Success Coaches will plan future sessions around so that students can improve on those skills.

Simone Green, a criminology major, is attending success coaching this semester.

“My least favorite part is how long the sessions are,” she said. “My favorite thing is how helpful it actually is and that it actually works. My coach makes it really easy for me, so that’s a plus.”

Success coaches at TASC do not need to have a flawless college career to qualify for the position.

“A lot of times it’s the students who have struggled a little bit and figured out how to overcome some difficulties…who tend to make the best success coaches because they can relate,” Knapke said.

Charley Cicco, a psychology and sociology major, has been with TASC for six semesters now and currently works as a success coach.

Cicco says the most fulfilling part of being a success coach is seeing a student who has been struggling dramatically change their entire academic routine. However, it is not always that simple.

“One of the biggest challenges I have is being able to show the real value of success coaching to some students,” he said.

Success coaches put in about five hours a week. Students interested in becoming success coaches are welcome to apply at any time during the semester.

The most common skills that students need success coaching in are time management, getting organized and note-taking.

When it comes to tutoring, the most common courses that students need help with are the sciences, including chemistry, biology, physics, psychology and economics.

“For a college student to be successful, they have to ask for help and they have to be aware of all the resources they have on campus,” Knapke said.

These resources include not only TASC, but the Math Learning Center the Writing Center as well.

“There’s lots of places they can go to get help,” Knapke said. “They just have to ask for it.”

 

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