One of the many services that the Academic Advising and Learning Center (AALC) of Western Oregon University provides is free one-on-one tutoring. Not every student takes advantage of tutoring, but those who do understand the value of studying with a knowledgeable peer who can give them a new perspective.
All of AALC’s tutors are WOU students who have performed well in the courses they tutor and have been referred by faculty members.
Being tutored by peers rather than professionals is a benefit to students, according to Alexander Kunkle and Osvaldo Avila, academic advisors and tutor coordinators for AALC. “Oftentimes students are intimidated to go up to their professors and ask them questions, and so our students being peers…that loosens up the dynamic a bit,” Kunkle said. Tutors present not only a different approach to learning the material but also the unique perspective of a fellow student.
While the purpose of tutoring is to help students excel in their coursework, it is also a benefit to the tutors themselves. “They continue to learn the material by teaching it,” said Avila. Tutors constantly refresh their memories by revisiting and explaining material they have studied in the past. They learn to apply their knowledge because they have to “articulate an idea…and be able to explain that idea to somebody,” said Kunkle. Since tutoring is one-on-one, tutors have to gauge how well individual students respond and change their approaches if necessary. Continually refining their instruction methods helps tutors gain a thorough understanding of their subjects.
The courses for which tutoring is offered usually include most of the Liberal Arts Core Classes. AALC has recently been adding other lower-division classes that are requested or that students are interested in tutoring. AALC does not offer tutoring in math or writing, however, since the Math Tutoring Center and Writing Center cover those subjects.
In addition to the regular tutoring available from eight to five Monday through Friday, AALC offers drop-in tutoring for courses such as the Human Anatomy and Physiology sequence. Drop-in tutoring allows students an indefinite number of hours compared to the two hours per subject per week allotted for scheduled tutoring.
Each term, several hundred students come to the tutoring center. The busiest time is the second half of the term, when students realize they may not be doing as well in their courses as they thought. “Don’t wait until week five or after the midterm,” advised Avila. “Start early.” He and Kunkle agreed that going to a tutor, especially early on, can enhance students’ learning and understanding.
“Another thing for students is to get beyond the stigma of tutoring,” said Avila. “[People think] if a student uses tutoring it’s because they don’t know the information. I completely disagree with that.” Kunkle added, “Successful students use tutoring, and that’s in part why they’re successful.”
Scheduling a tutoring appointment through the WOU Portal is simple, and the service – which is free – is designed to help students achieve success in their classes. Tutoring offers them and their peer tutors an opportunity to enhance their learning and make the most of their studies at WOU.