Thursday, March 22, 2012

Stress, tests and tutors

Alyssa Creason sits in the back of the library knitting and waiting for the next student to arrive. On average, three students show up. On a bad day — none. Once, she had 22 students come to her table.

“It was the day before a final,” she said.

Creason is a University of Idaho psychology tutor, and has been for three semesters. She helps psychology students from all class levels during individual and drop-in tutoring sessions as part of the Tutoring and Academic Assistance Programs.

Philip Vukelich | Argonaut
TAAP is comprised of Student Support Services, Tutoring and College Success and Disability Support Services. SSS offers 250 financially limited, disabled or first-generation students individual tutoring services as part of a federal grant, while DSS offers accommodations, like note-taking and captioning, to students with documented disabilities.

TCS is where drop-in and small group tutoring comes in — free for any UI student.

“We’re here,” Creason said of tutors in the library. “We’re waiting.”

According to Sara Stout, TCS programs manager, any student can stop by the library on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday or Sunday for tutoring sessions.

Drop-in session topics range from Chinese to chemistry, from biology to economics and more. A pilot program called thinkTANK offers tutoring for engineering-specific classes Tuesday through Thursday in the Janssen Engineering Building.

Students can request any class topic for focus in small group tutoring and are not limited to the subjects offered by drop-ins.

“(Small group tutoring) is like a structured study group,” Stout said.

All individual, small group and drop-in tutors take part in a College Reading and Learning Association training certification program. Headed by TCS, Stout said, the certification ensures tutors are following FERPA guidelines, acting professionally and are empathetic and encouraging to students. While services are free, individual tutors are paid a minimum of $8 per hour, while small group and drop-in tutors are paid $12 per hour.

Creason tutors for five hours each week.

“It’s not a big money maker,” Creason said. “But I would do it for free.”

Creason said since tutoring at UI, she decided that it would make a good career choice.

“You make such a connection with your students,” she said.

TCS also offers College Success Classes, taught by Stout and Programs Specialist June Clevy, for students on academic probation or those who want to hone strategic studying and classroom skills. Time management, classroom and study skill workshops are available by request.

Stout said students often think they don’t need tutoring.

“It’s hard to admit they need help,” Stout said. “It’s hard to ask questions … especially for first-year students.”

Stout said she hopes to make other department-specific tutoring sessions available, and by fall 2012, “master tutors” will be available to mentor tutors in student assistance. For now, Clevy observes tutors twice a week.

“College exists to provide people with an education,” Creason said. “If you need a little help, there’s no shame in that.”

As seen in March 22 issue of the Argonaut.

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