Thursday, September 30, 2010

How Can the Learning Resource Center Better Assist You and Your Students?

Guest Blogger: Patricia Fullmer

All of us at the LRC are interested in continuously improving our services and ensuring that we are effectively helping students and assisting professors. We would like to know your ideas about improving our services.

Tutoring, Persistence, and Retention

Several research studies provide evidence that tutoring can significantly assist a student in earning a higher GPA, persist in their education, and increase the retention of students. Rheinheimer, et al (2010) tracked 129 incoming Act 101 students at a public university in Pennsylvania and found that "…students who were tutored were 13.5 times more likely to graduate than students who were not tutored…" (p. 28). The total number of hours tutored significantly predicted cumulative GPA, credits earned towards graduation, and graduation. This recent study demonstrated that tutoring helps improve students’ academic performance, persistence, and retention.

The immediate positive feedback of an online tutoring system has been linked to an increase of metacognitive and cognitive skills (Saadawi, et al, 2009). In addition, Hodges and White (2001) found that tutoring is a contributing factor to the academic success of students, and Boylan, Bliss, and Bonham (1997) found that the training of tutors related significantly (p=<0.05) to higher first term GPA, higher cumulative GPA, and the retention of students. With the above evidence in mind, the LRC tutors, both professional and peer, are trained and certified through the International Tutoring Program Certification process of the College Reading and Learning Association.

Request for Your Response

We, in the LRC, would like to know how we can work more closely with faculty and rectify any problems faculty see. We also welcome your suggestions on how to have more students utilize the LRC so we can be more effective in aiding students to persist in their education and graduate.


Boylan, H., Bliss, L., and Bonham, B. (1997). Program components and their relationship to student performance. Journal of Developmental Education, 20(3).

Hodges, R. and White, W. (2001). Encouraging high-risk student participation in tutoring and supplemental instruction. Journal of Developmental Education, 24(3), 2-11.

Rheinheimer, D.C., Grace-Odeleye, B., Francois, G.E., and Kusorgbor, C. (2010). Tutoring: A support strategy for at-risk students. Learning Assistance Review, 15(1), 23-34.

Saadawi, G., Azevedo, R., Castine, M., Payne, V., Medvedeva, O., Tseytlin, E., Legowski, E., Jukic, D., and Crowley, R. (2010). Factors affecting the felling-of-knowing in a medical intelligent tutoring system: The role of immediate feedback as a metacognitive scaffold. Advances in Health Science Education, 15, 9-30.


  1. Thanks. I wonder about the role that LRC plays in (a) Middle States (type of) assessment (of SLOs) and (b) critical thinking.

  2. Dr. Kwame:

    Thank you for your questions! I hope you find the information below helpful.

    LRC and Middle States Assessment of SLOs:

    When the Middle States committee visited in 2008, a Middle States person visited the LRC and took a copy of the LRC semester report which includes the LRC SLOs and an action plan for each tutoring lab. LRC developed SLOs and an action plan for each tutoring lab and program in 2008 through a CAS (Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education) self-assessment that the LRC conducted in 2008. The LRC has been revising its SLOs and Action Plans every semester since 2008 and publishing them in the LRC semester report. If you wish to review our SLOs please see our semester reports that are online on the LRC website.

    Critical Thinking:

    Each professional and peer tutor completes the College Reading and Learning Association's certification process for the "International Tutor Program Certification." This includes training on critical thinking that I, as director, conduct as a required topic in level One certification training. In the training, we go over Bloom's Taxonomy, including the higher order thinking skills of Analyzing (breaking material into constituent parts, determining two the parts relate to one another and to the overall structure), Evaluating (making judgments based on criteria and supporting your judgment), and Creating (generating a new pattern or structure through putting parts together or reorganizing parts). Tutors practice asking tutees questions on those three levels to encourage critical thinking.

    Pat Fullmer

  3. Thanks, Pat. I don't want to review your assessment report. I just wanted to know know whether I could use LRC tutoring to achieve or enhance some of my SLOs e.g. critical thinking; but I see that your definition of critical thinking may be different from the one we use in philosophy. It may be easier with writing, e.g. using the LRC to improve a writing-related SLO, if say, you give students SLO-specific exercises (e.g. SLO-specific pre-tests and post-tests) rather just ones that measure improved-writing.

  4. SLOs and the LRC Tutoring Labs

    In the tutoring labs, our SLOs and the pretests and posttests are linked. We measure improvement in math, reading and writing from the pretest to the posttest, and rewrite our SLOs for each lab based on the results each semester. We change out action plan if the data shows that we are not reaching our goals.

    We have seen significant improvement from pretest to posttest in math and writing, but reading has shown mixed results. Therefore, this summer and fall we changed the Reading lab program to focus on the students reading the selections and answering comprehension questions. The students read the selections on line and answer the questions online, and the online program determines the students’ progress in reading level after each reading selection is completed. Prior to this, the Reading Lab had students work in a computerized workbook and do exercises online, but that ended in mixed results. Focusing on the reading selections in the Summer Bridge Program showed more positive results of a greater gain in reading level! So out action plan for the fall was to change to focus on the reading selections.

    Writing Lab

    The Writing Lab focuses on grammar, and the pretest and posttest measures the students' skills in the following areas:

    Basic Grammar

    In addition, we have instituted three instances of paragraph writing in the lab for ENG 099.

    Writing Tutoring

    Between 3:00 and 4:00 pm, Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, the LRC writing and reading tutors are available for drop-in or appointment tutoring. The tutors can help with papers, essays, and compositions. There are also peer tutors available from 5:00 to 11:00 pm Sundays through Thursdays that can assist students in writing.