Students Incorporate Tutoring into Study Routines

tutoring centerThere are alternatives to noisy study groups or struggling through tough engineering assignments alone. At the Engineering Tutoring Center, there’s help in the form of tutors who’ve already successfully made it through the same courses probably giving you angst.

The center employs more than two dozen tutors, with a focus on undergraduate engineering courses with low completion rates. The tutors need to have earned a B or better in the courses they’re tutoring in, preferably here at CSULB. “That way they can tutor based on experience,” said Academic Success Program Coordinator Katarina Spralja.

As the Engineering Tutoring Center celebrates its second year in EN2-300, students are increasingly incorporating tutoring into their study routines. “It’s part of their process,” said Spralja. “Tutoring is that second pillar of instruction. Students build that into their study habits.”

For each engineering department, there are from a handful to several dozen courses where scheduled tutoring is offered. Engineering students can also receive tutoring in additional courses, although the center advises tutors not to assist outside their areas of experience. Tutors can also offer time-management tips, share their experience in a major, or answer other academic-related questions. “Tutors are trained to help as much as they can, but we don’t want the blind leading the blind,” Spralja said.

Previously, tutoring was provided by the individual engineering departments. Last fall, it moved into the Engineering Tutoring Center in EN2-300, allowing a more unified structure and approach. The center, which is funded by the Highly Valued Degree Initiative, includes a quiet room with lots of whiteboards and markers, and a lab with computers running AutoCAD, SolidWorks, CATIA, MatLab, and Libre Office.

“We’re all under one roof. We have the space for about 70 students and new furniture,” said Spralja. “We’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback. Students really appreciate the tutors and service.”
Students seeking help come from all five engineering departments. According to a recent survey of students who have met with tutors, about forty percent heard about the center through their instructors, more than one-third through recommendations from fellow students, and one-quarter from fliers. Spralja said she’s trying to get the word out by giving presentations to classes and asking professors to include tutoring information on class syllabi. Half of tutoring recipients are return visitors, she said.

The most common reasons that respondents visited the Tutoring Center were to seek help in understanding the material better (53 percent), prepare for a quiz or exam (47 percent), or increase their grade (35 percent). Overall, students who were surveyed gave the tutoring center high marks, although several wished for extended hours. “Great job. I’m thankful for the College of Engineering for giving us the chance to improve ourselves,” wrote one student.

This semester tutoring services are available from 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday through Thursday. The center is also open as a study place on Fridays and Saturdays. Dec. 9, 2015 is the last day of tutoring this semester until reopening again in the spring semester. For more information or to view schedules, visit the Tutoring Center.