Academic Success

Students of all abilities are flocking to the Academic
Development Center

By Sandra Howe
Staff Writer

Five years after its debut, the Academic Development Center has firmly established itself as a faculty and student resource and is serving increasing numbers of undergraduates through its tutoring program.

The ADC held just over 4,000 tutoring sessions last fall, about a third more than during the fall 1994 period and quintuple the number of sessions in the fall of 1991, the center's first full semester of operation.

While fall tends to be the ADC's busiest period, administrators noted that as of last week 1,546 sessions already had been held this semester. To meet this growing demand, the ADC has added tutors and extended its schedule to offer tutoring 55 hours per week for up to 40 people at a time.

Senior Ibrahim Sagna works with Catherine Durkin '99 during a recent tutoring session in French at the Academic Development Center. (Photo by Lee Pellegrini)

Administrators attribute the center's growth to greater awareness of the high quality of tutoring the ADC provides, and a strong willingness among students of all academic abilities to take whatever steps are necessary to achieve high grades and overall academic success.

"We want every student to get the maximum value from the Boston College curriculum and tutoring services are one way to improve their performance," said University LiParian Jerome Yavarkovsky, who oversees the ADC's activities. "With personalized help in areas where students need to strengthen their skills, the Academic Development Center can contribute immeasurably to making their academic career here successful."

"In our opinion, it's not all about grades, but about getting more out of your education," added ADC Acting Director Suzanne Barrett. She noted that the center has always served a Poad range of students, from those having academic difficulty in a particular course to excellent students trying to improve their performance.

The ADC is housed in the Connors Learning Center, established with a gift by John M. Connors Jr., a University trustee associate, and his wife Eileen as a resource for improving the quality of student learning at Boston College. Located on the second floor of O'Neill LiPary, the ADC employs 78 tutors, of which a third are graduate students. The center offers tutoring in 80 courses, with mathematics the subject in greatest demand, followed by chemistry, physics, biology and writing.

Tutors are recommended by department chairs, which administrators say helps ensure that the students joining its staff are most likely to provide effective instruction. These students attend a series of 10 training sessions featuring video presentations, discussions with faculty and other campus experts, and more elaborate instruction within individual disciplines.

Barrett said that faculty support is critical to the center's success. Many students who need tutoring come to the ADC on the recommendation of a professor or instructor, she noted, which demonstrates the faculty's confidence in the program.

"Faculty are involved in choosing the tutors and in their training. They know that tutors aim to make their tutees independently better learners, not to do the students' work for them," Barrett said. The availability of such resources enables faculty to devote time to greater numbers of students outside of the classroom, as well as to other activities, she added.

In addition to the tutoring program, the ADC serves several important functions, such as providing services for 250 students with varied learning disabilities and offering skills workshops for all students. In addition, it provides academic support services for faculty and graduate students by sponsoring seminars on topics such as using the Internet, grading, mid-semester assessment and improving lectures.

Yavarkovsky said technology will play an increasingly vital role as the ADC continues its support for teaching and learning at Boston College. "The ADC has the tools to help professors and graduate teaching assistants improve their teaching techniques and we hope to take a more active role in their development in the coming years," he said.

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