By Liz Gundlach and Rachel LaMotte
On April 15, 2014, Michael Baily, Dean of Student Affairs, sent out an email about the changes that are going to be implemented to the Teaching Learning Center (TLC) starting at the end of the current semester.
Baily said that they did have the money to fund their portion of the TLC, they just didn’t think it was effective the way it was.
However, Erin Barnett, Coordinator of Academic Support Services, said, “we were told we needed the funds to reallocate for a student activities position, so we would have a student-led tutoring model to free up the funds.”
Don Wells, the lead professional tutor in the TLC, also said, “there was a directive to look for budget cuts, so I presumed it was that.”
The TLC has been funded half by the TRiO Student Support Services (TRiO SSS) grant and half by Finlandia University. Finlandia has completely removed the TLC’s funding starting after the current semester.
Starting at the end of this semester, only TRiO SSS students will be able to receive professional tutoring from the TLC, according to Barnett.
Non TRiO SSS students will not be able to receive tutoring from the professional tutors but they will still be able to receive tutoring in the TLC by the student tutors that work there.
“We have been evaluating the effectiveness of the TLC, including the professional and peer tutors,” said Baily.
He said they made a few slight changes over the course of this academic school year in order to make the TLC a more inviting and comfortable environment to promote learning, but he did not specify why they did so.
“We tried adding popcorn on certain days, adding background music, and changing the seating arrangements in hopes of creating a more open environment,” said Baily.
Along with the changes to the setting there were discussions with the professional tutors on ways to improve the interactions between tutors and the students.
“Other universities that I’ve been at have had the peer tutor model, which proved to be effective,” said Baily, “sometimes students feel more comfortable talking to, and receiving help, from peer tutors instead of the professionals.”
Although Wells will become part time, the TLC’s hours of operation will not be affected.
Barnett said that there will likely be 3 additional student tutors add to the number of tutors.
Baily also mentioned that they will continue to evaluate the TLC and will make decisions based on what works and what doesn’t.
One change that is happening next semester is that after a student is done in the TLC, they will get a survey to express how they feel their session went.
Baily is also going to look to see if there is software that can be used as another supplement of tutoring.
“There is always a chance that we might switch back to the professional and peer tutor model after next year if this change doesn’t prove to be successful,” added Baily.
The TLC will be looking for more students that would like to become tutors starting in the fall. Three of their current seven student tutors will be graduating this year.
The money that was being used to fund the TLC has been proposed to be used to help pay the peer tutors if they don’t qualify for work study, or if the amount they receive for work study is reached. According to Baily it will also be used to help the student senate fund on-campus activities.
“I guess we can only hope it works out,” said Wells.
According to Jody Maloney, Director of TRiO SSS, TRiO SSS’s budget has not been cut for next year and is in place with little to no changes until September of 2015. TRiO SSS is a government grant funded program.
“I think people get confused between the TLC and TRiO SSS,” states Maloney.
According to Maloney, professional tutoring is required in the grant that is currently in place so professional tutors will be available for TRiO SSS students at least through September of 2015.
TRiO SSS is up for a new grant that is currently being written right now, the grant due in October of this year, if accepted will not go into place until October of 2015.
*An earlier version of this story had a misinterpretation of statistics for total tutoring sessions in the TLC. We have decided to remove it, and the correct statistics can be seen in the comments below by Jody Maloney, Director of TRiO SSS, and Maxwell Malone. We apologize for the misunderstanding.