December 31, 2011

UNK celebrates first Nebraska learning commons

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By Sarah Giboney, originally published on on 11/5/11.

A math tutor works patiently with a student struggling with a math problem. A supplemental instructor shares her passion for a subject with a student who needs motivation. A group of students hover over chemistry books and listen intently to their tutor. This is a typical evening in the Learning Commons at the Calvin T. Ryan Library at the University of Nebraska at Kearney.

“All of these examples demonstrate the spirit of learning that’s always been present on this campus,” said Sam Schneider, a supplemental instruction student peer leader. “But until now, it’s been disconnected and decentralized.”

Administrators, faculty, staff and students gathered Friday to celebrate the new Learning Commons, which is the first in a public institution in the state of Nebraska. “Learning is proactive, learning is fluid, learning is intensely satisfying and learning is made better by spaces like this,” said Charles Bicak, senior vice chancellor of academic and student affairs.

In the past two years, the library and the Division of Student Affairs have collaborated to establish student-centered support in the library. Last year, Academic Peer Tutoring joined the Writing Center on the second floor of the library. Last spring, one-third of the second floor, which previously housed study tables and carrels, was refurbished with new carpet, three glass-walled study rooms, wiring, paint and a reception desk for tutoring services. “It’s a place for study, for group work, for socializing, for creating,” said Janet Wilke, the dean of the library. “Libraries are no longer quiet places with discussion rooms. They’re noisy places with quiet spaces added in.”

To read the full story click here.

Filed under: Academic Learning Centers,College

December 26, 2011

Learning Center Profile: CAPS at the University of New Mexico

by Daniel Sanford, PhD, Senior Program Manager (Interim), Center for Academic Program Support (CAPS), University of New Mexico,

Editors Note: On 11/30/11 this Journal included an excerpt and link to an article published in the New Mexico Daily Lobo at UNM. The original article did not include interviews with representatives of the CAPS program. The following profile provides another perspective on the CAPS program.

The Center for Academic Program Support (CAPS) at the University of New Mexico is a program marked by flexibility and innovation. UNM is a large, research-oriented and highly diverse institution. CAPS seeks to meet the needs of its students by drawing on approaches developed within its various programs to arrive at tested tools that can be rapidly implemented on a large scale.

CAPS tutoring services include a Math and Science Tutoring Program, an Online Tutoring Program, a Study Strategies Program, a Supplemental Instruction Program, and a Writing and Language Center. Each of these represent a pool of expertise collectively held by the tutors and professional staff associated with the program. Collaboration between these programs results in a unique and innovative menu of offerings.

The drop-in lab approach that has grown out of the Math and Science Tutoring Program, for example, has provided a model for a Writing and Language Center that has greatly increased the number of students it serves by having tutors act as facilitators of peer-to-peer interactions. Practices developed within the Writing and Language Center that use writing as a tool for learning have, in turn, supplemented content tutoring across all programs. Supplemental Instruction pedagogy informs techniques that are used in drop-in tutoring and workshops across all CAPS programs. The tutors of the Online Tutoring Program explore approaches for working with students online that can then be applied in the brick-and-mortar center.

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Filed under: Academic Learning Centers,College

December 15, 2011

Free tutoring lowers class drop rate for TJC students

by Justin Atchison, originally published in The Apache Pow Wow on 9/30/11

Dropping a class is a complete waste of money.

“For students who get three or more tutoring sessions in a certain class their withdrawal rate is sometimes 20 to 40 percent lower than students who didn’t get any tutoring,” said Tracey Williams, Tyler Junior College licensed profes­sional counselor/tutor coordinator and learning specialist.

The students who use the tutoring service normally get better grades. When students make a connection to someone on campus, their success rate is higher. In this case, the tutor could be that connec­tion. All of the tutors are trained in a specific learning style, so they can cater to the different learning styles. Tutors will usually try to tutor in their own learning style, but it really helps if they are able to learn different forms of teaching because all students do not learn in the same fashion. Students that learn in only one style will sometimes freeze up with anxiety during a test, but if they learn other ways, they have more of a chance of remem­bering what they learned while taking the test. The tutors are taught that differ­ent methods are sometimes needed.

Tutors can get nationally certified by attending 10 hours of training and completing 25 hours of tutoring. Which, basically, means they are trained and can earn a pay raise. “A lot of people on campus don’t even know this,” said Williams. Williams does all the hiring and looks for students with an A average along with interpersonal skills.

To read the full story click here.

Filed under: Academic Learning Centers,College

December 11, 2011

State publishes ratings of tutors

By Jennifer Smith Richards, originally published in The Columbus Dispatch, 9/28/11

Columbus rated more than half of its contractors  “not effective”

Parents interested in picking a tutor for their children now can see how effective groups have been.

State officials yesterday published effectiveness ratings for the more than 200 tutoring contractors that serve Ohio students through a federally required program. Such a list wasn’t previously made public. The move is a first step in a state effort to overhaul the No Child Left Behind tutoring system. The deadline for Columbus parents to choose a tutor is Friday. In past years, some children have been shut out because there’s more demand for the free help than there is federal money to pay for it. The tutoring, called “supplemental educational services,” is offered to children who attend a school with poor academic performance and a high level of poverty. Tutoring is free to parents and funded through federal grants.

“Although these evaluations have been performed by districts for years, they have not been easy for the public to see. We are changing that today,” state Superintendent Stan Heffner said in a written release. “Those scores show that this program needs dramatic change, and we are committed to making it happen.”

More than half of the tutoring groups that Columbus evaluated were rated “not effective.” Of the more than 200 tutoring contractors on the list:

  • 20 were rated “not effective,” including six that can’t provide tutoring anymore. Federal law mandates that a provider be removed from the program if it has been deemed ineffective for two years.
  • 89 scored as “needs improvement.”
  • 101 were considered “effective.”

To read the full story click here.

Filed under: NCLB


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