Students, faculty express concern about

By on March 6, 2003

Many students have passed through the door of the Learning Center since it was featured in a 1992 USA Today article on the importance of proper college study skills. However, the center now faces problems of overcrowding and increasing demands that cannot be adequately met.

The Learning Center, located in Tator Hall Room 119, houses offices for the director, assistant director and coordinator for disabilities, as well as all tutoring activity on campus.

A maximum of ten tutors and their tutees can be accommodated at any time, but recent demand for the center’s services has surpassed its capacity.

In spring 2002, 627 students came to the Learning Center for help a few times each week for an entire semester. By the tenth week of the fall 2002 semester, that number had already been reached.

Along with demand for tutors, the center’s services have also increased, including separate-site testing, extended-time testing and computers for tutorial use. This has made space for tutoring even tighter.

The Learning Center will support a new program, the Quinnipiac University Center for Excellence in Teaching and Service to Students, which will sponsor programs and activities for professional development in teachers beyond those already provided by the university.

For students interested in tutoring, signing up for time in the center has become a challenge.

The sign-up lists for the tutors are posted a week in advance, and by the time Monday arrives, most time slots for the week are filled.

Some students also have trouble finding a time to get tutoring in subjects outside of the core curriculum. With limited space, tutors have had to adjust their schedules to avoid busy times of the day.

“It’s frustrating,” said sophomore Landon Potts. “Only a few people tutor in my major and all their schedules conflict with mine.”

Even with more tutors employed by the center, up to 53 at the beginning of the school year, the demand for tutoring, especially in common subjects like math or writing, exceeds the number of tutors available.

Learning Center secretary Betty Simmons keeps a waiting list on the front desk.

When students fail to show up for appointments or call in to cancel them, Simmons starts making calls, and within a few minutes the sign up sheets are full again.

“It would be great to have more tutors, but we just don’t have the room,” she said.

An increase in the number of tutors, however, will also mean more money the university must spend to pay for them.

According to Learning Center Director Andrew Delohery, while students without Federal Work Study are not permitted to work on campus, the university has given special permission for the center to hire tutors that are not eligible for work study funds.

The selective requirements for tutor application and the long national certification process for tutors makes hiring strictly from work study students difficult, so tutors must depend on the university to sign their paychecks, he said.

The situation at the Learning Center cannot be solved simply by a request to the university’s administration for more money and time to expand the center and hire a larger staff.

There are already a variety of construction and renovation projects planned or underway throughout the campus for new classroom space, offices, student housing and athletic facilities.

“Many other projects are in constant review, including the renovation of the learning center. However, at this time, there are no current plans to expand or renovate it,” said Pat Healy, senior vice president for finance and administration.

Technology has become a much larger part of the center’s operations.

An archive of all reports is kept for faculty access, along with a database of Learning Center statistics and demographics for the purpose of increasing efficiency and improving service.

Computers with Internet access and adaptive text-to-voice programs, as well as a printer and copier, are all kept for use by tutors and those being tutored.

According to Delohery, the technological advances have increased efficiency in the center.

The Learning Center’s staff would like to see more technology in the center’s operations.

According to Judy Villa, the assistant director of the Learning Center, a new system for submitting reports on tutorials electronically via a laptop on the tables or in each carrel in the center is in the works.

She said the staff hopes to be able to devote an entire room to technology and resources for learning in a larger Learning Center.

“I know that we’re one of many priorities, one facet of this big thing that has to come together, but we know our demand is credible,” said Delohery.

With no sign of decline in student demand for the Learning Center’s services or demand for new facilities and resources around the university, students can expect getting an appointment with a tutor to be harder before it becomes easier.

Until then, the best advice the Learning Center staff can give is to plan ahead.


About Jaime Glanovsky