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The Voice

Learning Center and Tutoring Services are severely underutilized by students

The University Learning Center and Tutoring Services are slowly starting to see their numbers rise again. Before the university shutdown in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Learning Center was seeing about 300–400 students utilizing student tutoring services per week. As of the fall break of the ‘23 semester, there were only 573 sessions across all three Commonwealth University campuses.

“We do see that students are struggling,” states Director of Tutorial Services and Academic Support Karen Hamman, “once a student starts to struggle, they resist reaching out for help.”

One of the Lead Student Workers of Tutoring Services, Bella Brisgone, cites a CU Succeed malfunction early this semester for the lack of tutees. Within the first month of classes, the newly launched site started to give error messages to students who were trying to sign up for meeting times. Brisgone feels that this may have discouraged new students looking for help, on top of the stigma and shame some may feel when in need of academic support.

Student Lead Bella Brisgone and Tutor Faith Dinsmore working in the Learning Center (Rebecca Sokolowski)

Although the malfunction was resolved in September, CU Succeed has also given issues to tutors like Faith Dinsmore: “we have to put in reports of our experience in the sessions… I had difficulty submitting those.”

Dinsmore, like many other tutors, has also experienced cases where students will seek help by signing up for a tutoring session but then not show up without any prior warning or explanation. After three tutoring no-shows, students are barred from signing up for more sessions until they repeal their case.

Efforts are being made by Student Leads to spread the word about the different tutoring services to hopefully boost engagement. One new tactic tutors are trying is reaching out to professors directly to try and build connections.

“We want tutors to have that relationship with the professor so the professors can share that information with their students,” Brisgone explains.

Many First Year Seminar professors are offering their help as well by sending their students out on scavenger hunts to find where different resources around campus are, including the University Learning Center.

“Tutoring students was very rewarding; I really truly saw the growth of a lot of my students because I would be with them throughout the year,” recalls Brisgone, “people would come back and say, ‘I got a good grade on my exam,” and it was a great experience.”

“Think of us like a gym, not an emergency room,” suggests Hamman. “We’re not here to fix your broken leg, we’re here for you to work out.”

Tutoring services include one-on-one peer tutoring, supplemental instruction, as well as academic coaching. The University Learning Center can be found to the left of Roongo’s Cafe in the Student Service Center.

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Rebecca Sokolowski, Multimedia Journalist

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