By Lori Bredemeyer, Managing Editor
Departments across campus have begun instigating programs to replace the tutoring services lost when the Learning Enhancement Center closed last semester.
Each department was responsible for identifying the areas in which it would need tutoring, and the department chairs submitted proposals with requests for funding.
The Provost’s Cabinet met Wednesday and discussed the departments’ requests, and most of the funding was approved, said Dr. Colleen Durrington, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.
She said the tutoring will allow departments to work more closely with students than the LEC did.
“They (LEC) did a very good job,” Durrington said, “but we believe the tutoring can be tied more closely to the classes and the specific needs of students in departments by having it handled this way. We hope we can make a positive out of it by making the tutoring more focused and more beneficial to students.”
The Department of Mathematics and Computer Science has added extra lower-level classes with tutoring sessions attached to fill the void. Dr. David Hughes, chair of the department, said his tutors can help the students more effectively because they have taken the classes they’re tutoring.
“The LEC hired good students, but they didn’t always know the purpose and direction of Math 120 and Math 130,” he said. “We’re changing that. We think we’re hiring good students who also know what the direction is and have that experience.”
The department is also planning to conduct tutoring sessions three nights a week in addition to the new courses. Hughes said the process will be trial-and-error this semester.
“We don’t know how many people to expect in those sessions,” he said, “and we don’t know whether we’ll have a few and not have enough to do or whether we’ll be overrun with people so that the tutors can’t keep up. So it’s kind of a learning experience this semester.”
The English Department has also added new courses to help students who are not ready to begin regular entry-level English classes, and the classes each have a peer tutor to assist the professor, said Dr. Nancy Shankle, chair of the department.
“By having the trained peer tutors in the room, it’s like cloning the teacher,” she said. “… It makes it possible for us to accomplish our goal of teaching the class in a writing workshop and giving the students the individualized attention they need.”
She said the pressure of finding tutors and supporting a larger-than-normal freshman class has been alleviated by the University Writing Center, which is still in operation in the LEC space.
“The university has been so open about making sure that the students’ needs came first,” Shankle said. “In terms of English, the Writing Center is doing such a good job of serving our students’ writing needs that we have not felt a problem. The Writing Center stepped up to pick up the slack when the LEC closed.”
However, not all departments have had an easy time of starting a new program.
Jan Hailey, instructor of Bible, ministry and missions who teaches Greek classes, said she was not aware of how much work it would take to create a tutoring system.
Each tutor has to go through three levels of training with Dr. Gloria Bradshaw, director of Alpha Academic Services. The departments also have to set up an assessment program so that the students’ progress can be tracked and measured.
Hailey said she has already had a few students ask about tutoring, and she would like to have a program in place soon so the students won’t suffer.
“If we don’t have tutors, and if we can’t get the program in place, I’ll have to do what I’ve always done, and that’s tutor out of my office,” she said. “But sometimes it helps when you have someone other than the person that you hear all the time, and I think older students or graduate students sometimes are really a great encouragement to students in a way that I can’t be.
“I can tell them they’re going to be just fine, but they may not believe me.”
She said she hopes students will be able to do well without having a need for the LEC.
“I hope in the long run it doesn’t hurt students,” she said. “That’s what makes ACU different, is I think professors here, more than any other place I know of, feel a sense of responsibility for every single student. We just care about them.”
Durrington said although this semester will be a learning process for the departments, she is glad they have the opportunity to set up tutoring.
“If there are some areas where we are not providing tutoring where the LEC did provide tutoring, then I hope those problems will surface, and we’ll be able to take care of that next time,” she said.
“I’m pleased that we are able to continue to provide the tutoring, and I hope that we can make it efficient and effective for students by making it more connected to the classes that they’re taking.”