Marketing & Communications
Come early, come often
Nathan Steele tutoring at the Learning Commons
More BGSU students are discovering the value of services offered at the Learning Commons, which offers tutoring in most subjects and interactive study space at Jerome Library.
"Our motto has been, 'Come early, and come often,'" said Mark Nelson, director of the Learning Commons. "Those who do well come here three, four or five times a week because drop-in tutoring helps students to create a regular study schedule and to keep on top of homework."
Demand for tutoring service has grown by 26 percent, just one year after the Learning Commons assembled its writing, math and statistics and other tutoring under the same roof.
The spacious, open study area is located on the first floor of the library offers tutors who are well versed in writing, math and statistics, sciences, various subjects in most majors, and general study skills. The Learning Commons space includes semi-private rooms where tutors lead dynamic group study sessions, and open seating areas for drop-in tutoring where students study quietly or raise their hand to ask a question of an on-duty tutor.
In fall 2011, about 2,710 students requested tutoring at the Learning Commons. That number swelled to 3,425 students in fall 2012- and most of those are students who are not struggling in their courses. At least 68 percent of students who seek tutor service earn a 2.5 GPA or higher, and more than 43 percent earn a 3.0 GPA or better.
"We see a lot of students who are doing well and want to continue to do well, but we always see students who are struggling, and we're helping them to improve and help them to succeed," Nelson added.
Nelson credits his outstanding staff of peer tutors for the boost.
"I feel like that's our job as tutors, to make them feel comfortable."One of those is Nathan Steele. Before Steele decided to become a tutor himself, he had frequently visited the Learning Commons. The senior biochemistry major from Warrensville Heights felt that his coursework in chemistry benefited from the one-on-one attention he received at the Learning Commons. With goals to attend medical school and become a family doctor, Steele knew it was important to keep his grades high.
"Organic chemistry is not something you can play around with. Its already hard enough," Steele said.
Now, he enjoys tutoring small groups or individual students seeking help in science courses.
"Not only are you tutoring, you are also learning," Steele said, adding that when he works directly with students, his approach is to "see if they actually understand the material, and I repeat what I say over and over again just to get it in their heads."
Sarah High, a drop-in tutor and math education major from Grove City, said many first-timers at the Learning Commons are working to overcoming a general anxiety about math. She is working as a tutor to gain some hands-on teaching experience before she completes her student teaching requirements, and expects to graduate in 2015.
"A lot of students feel discouraged when it comes to math," she said. "I feel like that's our job as tutors, to make them feel comfortable. Because everyone can do math."
High and her peers start a tutoring session by helping students to determine whether their confusion stems from a specific problem or a general mathematic concept.
"We are always there and willing to help," High said. "People should come in when they first start having problems, not when they start to fail a class because it is harder to (catch up) when you are more than halfway through a semester."
Keith McBride, an education major with dual specialties in physics and earth science from Westerville, was offered help in writing from a friend and tutor before he applied to become a physics tutor at the Learning Commons. As a tutor with drop-in duty, he uses a dry erase board to help illustrate the physics problems rather than simply offer the correct answers to students.
"I've never been stumped, where I have to say, 'I really don't know how to do that,'" McBride said of his tutoring process. "Drawing a picture (helps) me figure out what thought process I should use to answer the question. But I don't like to tell them what to do. I ask them questions, and try to lead them in the right way."
He encourages first-time visitors to the Learning Commons to overcome any anxiety or negative ideas they may have about asking someone else for help.
"In college, they are getting ready for a career, so some people feel that if you can't do it by yourself now, you shouldn't be doing it," McBride said. "That is totally wrong because everyone in any career is going to need help. Its just helpful to come in, and to be in the positive atmosphere."
(Posted January 29, 2013 )