Thursday, March 23, 2017

[362] Signs of the times: MTSU ‘flips’ over free tutoring success

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — To spread the word about finals in six weeks and the fact free tutoring is available at MTSU’s Tutoring Spot in the James E. Walker Library, campus Student Success officials threw a party for students Tuesday (March 21).

“MT Flips Over Tutoring” featured university President Sidney A. McPhee, interim Provost Mark Byrnes and other campus leaders flipping signs promoting the Tutoring Spot in the quad in front of the library.

Tutoring is available in more than 200 courses and 9,000 students participated last fall, said Vincent Windrow, vice provost for Student Success and master of ceremonies.

To view video from the event, visit

“Free tutoring is an amazing advantage that we offer to our students,” McPhee said. “It is easy to find, easy to schedule and proven to provide a boost to grades. It's an opportunity that should be used and used frequently.”

Byrnes told the audience about “the large range of services” available to students, who, in addition to cake, cookies, lemonade and “MT Flips Over Tutoring” stylist pens, could also take printed material about the options.

Imani Joyner, a 19-year-old sophomore multimedia journalism major from Memphis, Tennessee, said she just discovered the Tutoring Spot and free tutoring by attending the event.

“I need tutoring,” said Joyner, who is minoring in entrepreneurship. “When finals come around, I’ll be there. We all should take advantage of a great opportunity. Finals will be a good time for everybody to get tutoring help.”

College of Basic and Applied Sciences Dean Bud Fischer, Department of Journalism Chair Greg Pitts and University Counsel Heidi Zimmerman were among the MTSU officials flipping signs for two hours.

The Tutoring Spot is hitting the spot in terms of students’ increased academic success.

An initiative launched last fall, Study Skills and Learning Strategies, is paying dividends, said Cornelia Wills, director in Student Success. Feedback from students led to the tutoring plan.

Students who received tutoring in study skills had significantly higher midsemester grades than those who did not receive tutoring, Wills said. Tutoring Spot topics included time management, note-taking, where and when to study and memory and learning principles.

The Office of Student Success has been tracking the impact of tutoring and “we are excited about the early indicators,” Wills said.

Collected research information shows the study skills aspect is “one of the highest-attended tutoring sessions” and science — biology, math, chemistry, physics and other areas — had the highest attendance among all disciplines.

Highlights of the impact analysis include:

• Twenty-six percent more freshmen and 90 percent more juniors made an A when they received study skills tutoring compared to a matched sample of those who did not.

• Forty percent more sophomores and 26 percent more juniors made a B with study skills compared to counterparts who did not attend study skills tutoring.

• Fall-to-fall retention rates for students who utilized tutoring “are on an upward spiral,” Wills said. Her statistics revealed retention rates of 97 percent (sophomores) and 86 percent (freshmen) and an overall 83 percent retention rate for all students participating in tutoring compared to a study of students not receiving tutoring (80 percent sophomores and 70 percent for freshmen).

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