Tutoring returns to student centers

Tutor Rachel Jones works with a student in the Chicanx/Latinx Student Center.
Tutor Rachel Jones works with a student in the Chicanx/Latinx Student Center (photo by Heather Walden/Student Affairs).

After a three-year hiatus, students are once again receiving tutoring in the WSU Pullman multicultural student centers. The tutoring, which began this month, is part of a pilot program created by Multicultural Student Services (MSS) and the Academic Success and Career Center (ASCC) to boost student success and retention.

Four student tutors hired and trained by ASCC are conducting sessions on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays in the African American Student Center, Asian American and Pacific Islander Student Center, Chicanx Latinx Student Center, and the Undocumented Student Center, all located on the fourth floor of the Compton Union Building (CUB).

Steve Bischoff, director of MSS, said he is excited to bring tutoring back to the centers. Previous iterations of the program had a positive impact on student success by providing free personalized tutoring from well-trained tutors based on students’ learning styles and specific needs. He also said many students who frequent the student centers are more inclined to receive tutoring there since they are familiar and comfortable with the spaces.  

Moreover, research shows that tutoring works for many students. A study conducted by the Council of Learning Assistance and Developmental Education Associations concluded that college students who receive tutoring have higher grade point averages and are more likely to stay enrolled.

Convenience is also a factor; having tutors in the CUB makes it easier for many students to access support.

“Nothing beats having tutoring available right where the students are, and we are located in the center of campus,” said Bischoff. “This is a great way for us to provide direct academic support to students, and we’re very excited about it.”

The new program offers tutoring in “gateway courses” — classes like Biology 106, Chemistry 105, and Math 171 — that many students need to take as prerequisites for their majors. Quite a few of the courses are STEM-focused, but key classes in social sciences and business are included.

“All the tutors in the MSS student centers have taken the courses they are providing tutoring in and have at least one semester of tutoring experience,” said Jaxon Porterfield, academic advisor in ASCC. “They are known to be good communicators and collaborators and have been trained to communicate across lines of difference.”

Normalizing tutoring

ASCC has a successful history of providing tutoring in strategic locations — including the Stephenson Hall Complex and Streit Perham Hall — in addition to its home office in the Lighty Student Services Building. Some tutoring sessions are conducted online, too. Porterfield is excited to see how students respond to having tutoring in the MSS centers.

“In talking with the staff in those spaces, they are eager and enthusiastic to have tutoring conveniently located for the students they serve,” Porterfield said. “Everyone is on board, and it has been a great collaboration so far.”

With so many benefits to the tutoring program, Bischoff and Porterfield encourage all students to utilize the new service, not just those who frequent the MSS student centers. Students can drop into a tutoring session at any time and can view the online tutoring schedule.

Bischoff said he hopes that seeing the tutors in the centers on a regular basis will motivate more students to try tutoring.

“It will take some time and marketing before students get used to seeing tutoring in the centers,” Bischoff said. “What I hope will happen is that tutoring will become normalized, so that it becomes something that isn’t needed only when you’re struggling, but a program you can utilize to help you stay on top of your game.”

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