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A non-profit publication of the Office of the University Relations of Virginia Tech,
including The Conductor, a special section of the Spectrum printed 4 times a year

Academic Enrichment Offers Tutoring and More

By Nigel Hatton, University Relations intern

Spectrum Volume 17 Issue 10 - October 27, 1994

If it were up to the Office of Academic Enrichment Programs, "Thou shalt have the right to tutoring" would be the 11th Commandment.

According to Coordinator Delores Scott, OAEP assumed responsibility for the tutoring program for the university in 1990. Since that time, the tutoring program has blossomed into an entire network of services available to an even greater number of students, Scott said. While the office also offers services such as Virginia Tech Academic Success Program (VTASP), the Distinguished African American Program, Project Success, and the Support Program for Junior and Senior Transfer Students, much of the time and effort is dedicated to tutoring.

Any student who enters the university with SAT's less than 1,000, is a member of the Virginia Tech Academic Success Program, or is referred by the counseling center, may participate in the tutoring program. "It's OK to get tutoring. It doesn't mean anything is wrong with you," Scott said. "Some of the best students at the university receive tutoring. We advocate students using tutoring proactively and continually."

From 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday and from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Fridays, the Office of Academic Enrichment at 122 Hillcrest Hall plays host to students seeking help in the most difficult of courses.

First- and second-level courses in math, chemistry, biology, accounting, economics, and physics seem to require a large share of tutoring for Tech undergraduates. Knowledgeable graduates and undergraduates provide the instruction. Some are paid, others are volunteers from the Honors Program.

In past years, Scott said faculty members have also volunteered their time. "We look for tutors who have demonstrated competence in their subject area and have a willingness to help others to grow," said Glenn Valentine, associate coordinator of OAEP, and director of the tutoring program.

All tutors participate in a training session organized by Valentine and university faculty members. "We have representatives from the math and biology departments come in and suggest how tutors can be most effective," Valentine said.

OAEP also schedules monthly meetings for tutors to discuss topics such as "working with disabled students" and "working with students with various learning styles." Kurt Winkelmann, a senior in chemistry, said the program has helped him learn to communicate with others. "It's a good feeling," he said. "I remember when I was taking the same classes and I had problems."

Ramin Monajemy, a Ph.D. candidate in electrical engineering agreed. "I actually enjoy tutoring," he said. "I do it for two reasons. The experience of being able to teach on that level, and the enjoyment. "It's a very effective program. Students should use it more than they do."

Winkelmann and Monajemy's praise of the program is echoed by students who benefit from the tutors. "Last year, tutors were rated very good to excellent, based on student perceptions," Scott said, referring to statistics from an annual report on the tutoring program.

While the program has grown significantly since 1990, Scott said there's still room for improvement. She hopes to offer help in more 3000- and 4000-level courses.

Additionally, Scott said, "It is our hope to expand our services over the next several years. The final goal is to make OAEP support services available to all freshmen enrolled at the university. Phase II and the restructuring effort are considerations, but Scott remains optimistic."

"We want to restructure in a cost-effective way," she said. "We want to see what we can do with the resources we have." Scott said the program has already taken several steps in the right direction toward availability to all freshman.

Supplemental instruction is offered to students in one section of math 1015 and all sections of math 1504. An SI leader sits in on the courses, takes notes, and conducts three study sessions each week. Any students enrolled in the courses are eligible to attend the group sessions.

In addition, as the tutoring network develops, OAEP can refer students to other tutoring services throughout the campus. If a student wants information about tutorial programs throughout the university, OAEP can provide the answers, Scott said.

"Overall, we've done a good job of providing stability for the program," she said.

For more information on tutoring services, contact OAEP at 1-4133.