The new Learning Center is one of the ways this college has responded to convincing data proving that tutoring availability is a critical “promising practice” to improve student success. We know through research by the Center for Community College Student Engagement, for example, that participation in tutoring is associated with higher GPAs and pass rates. Here at BRTC, we have long given attention to support for learners in many ways, and this includes through the offering of tutoring services. However, staffing and space restraints have typically restricted tutoring in the past to limited services in unused classroom space with part-time tutoring and limited technology.
Our new Learning Center actually has it genesis in studies done by two of our own staff members, Regina Moore, Distance Education Coordinator, and Rhonda Foster, Student Recruiter, while working on advanced degrees. The design and components they envisioned in their classroom projects morphed and eventually gave shape to BRTC’s new Learning Center, where our students can receive one-on-one or group tutoring from full time staff and assistants. As we gauge the usage patterns and assistance needs of those who use this new center, we plan to add additional services and availability to meet those needs.
We know from data gleaned in the 2012 BRTC Key Findings report of the Community College Survey of Student Engagement that our students already give BRTC relatively high marks for learner support services overall, but our ratings for tutoring and skill labs, both of which the new Learning Center encompasses, are low. Only about 25% of our survey respondents indicated frequent use of tutoring services; more than 53% of BRTC student s responding to the survey report they rarely or never use a skills lab. Clearly this is an area this college needed to address—and we have! We think our students will be pleased, and we believe their grades will reflect just how much.