First Decade a Promising One for Center

First Decade a Promising One for Center

The Academic Development Center at O'Neill Library today marks 10 years of helping students help themselves.

The tutoring center that serves as many as 2,000 students a year hosts an anniversary celebration today from 4 to 6 p.m. in its quarters in the Connors Learning Center on the second floor of O'Neill.

Director Suzanne Barrett cites the center's two most distinguishing characteristics. "First, it's a real university resource, for all BC students and faculty, and not connected to a department or school. We have a great central location in O'Neill Library and collaborate with departments all over campus.

"Second, it's all about people. Most of what we have to offer is time with somebody who is an expert in something - it could be calculus or French or learning disabilities, or it could be how to respond to student writing or how to manage your time.

"We have some computers and books, but our big resource is people who know a lot about their subject and love to share that knowledge."

Barrett said the center offers peer tutoring, services for students with learning disabilities, and instructional support for graduate students and faculty.

"We have more than 70 tutors offering free tutoring in almost all core courses, plus some of the more advanced courses, as well," she said. "In addition to course-specific tutoring, we tutor writing and English as a Second Language. And we collaborate with the Honors Program to offer on-line tutoring for writing through Writers Block.

"Approximately 2,000 students use tutoring every year, with close to 6,000 individual or group sessions. If students had to pay for tutoring, as they did before the ADC was founded, it would cost between $15 and $30 an hour."

Nearly 300 BC students receive services for either learning disabilities or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, according to Barrett. The services include letters to faculty explaining a disability and requesting appropriate accommodations; administration of extended-time tests, and screenings by a learning specialist, Kathleen Duggan, coordinator of academic support services.

"The goal is always to help students become independent learners," said Barrett.

Graduate students who are new to teaching are offered seminars throughout the year. This semester's offerings include "Creating a Dynamic Classroom," "Finding External Funding for Your Dissertation," and "The Art of Teaching." A session on finishing the doctorate is to be led April 16 by Associate Vice President For Research and Graduate Arts and Sciences Dean Michael Smyer and Assoc. Prof. Eve Spangler (Sociology).

Tutoring Coordinator Bryan Marinelli said: "ADC is special because of its student-centeredness. The tutors are here to help students help themselves. When students leave the ADC, they should feel more empowered to succeed on their own, and students are indeed most appreciative when the tutors have enabled them to find answers for themselves."

-Mark Sullivan


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