Wharton County Junior College students are more successful when they utilize the free tutoring available at the college’s Learning Assistance Centers (LACs). Three centers, staffed by professional tutors, provide students with face-to-face assistance in reading, writing and math. Online tutoring is also available 24/7.
Results of a two-year study show a significantly higher percentage of students earning As, Bs and Cs in core classes when they use LAC services. This is especially true for historically underserved ethnic groups. During the Fall 2010 semester, 83.1 percent of students who used the LACs made the higher grades, versus 76.5 percent of students who did not use the LACs.
Located on the Wharton (Science 100), Sugar Land (Brazos 376) and Richmond (Room 103) campuses, each LAC is staffed by tutors who are certified by the College Reading and Learning Association.
“All our adult tutors have bachelor’s degrees and some have master’s degrees,” said Sharon Prince, who heads WCJC’s English department and oversees the LACs. “Two tutors have Ph.D’s. One is a retired engineer and one is a retired college professor.”
The tutors make approximately 150 classroom visits to promote the LACs to students at the beginning of each semester. They concentrate on core English, government and history classes and all math classes.
“I tell students you have paid for this tutoring in your fees so you should take advantage of it, but even more significant is that it really improves students’ grades,” said Prince.
As WCJC students achieve greater success using LAC services, the centers are serving a growing population – 850 students during the Spring 2011 semester. Smarthinking, an online tutoring service introduced at WCJC in Fall 2009, has led to a substantial increase in students served. Nearly 40 percent of WCJC students accessing LAC services now use online tutoring.
“Students who need writing help can submit their work online to Smarthinking and receive detailed feedback from a tutor within 24 hours,” said Prince. “The student can ask the tutor to focus on a specific area like story development, grammar and construction, or the conclusion.”
One unidentified student finds Smarthinking very helpful, saying, “I hate to be the only one in class to ask questions and Smarthinking makes me feel good about asking questions.”
LAC hours have recently expanded at the Sugar Land campus, thanks to the addition of two student tutors. Currently, this center is open for tutoring 25 hours weekly in math and 23 hours weekly in reading and writing. The Wharton and Richmond campuses are each open for tutoring 16 hours weekly for math and 16 hours weekly for reading and writing.
For specific hours of operation of each WCJC Learning Assistance Center, visit the college website at wcjc.edu or the LACs on the Wharton, Richmond and Sugar Land campuses.
Due to the success of the LACs, Prince said WCJC wants to expand hours at all centers and recruit more student tutors. Students interested in applying for a position as a paid tutor should contact Prince at 281.239.1574 or firstname.lastname@example.org.