Drop-In Tutoring in High Demand at BOLD's Student Success Center

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Sophomore Dua Chaker, left, gets help from Ignacio Castellanos.

Sophomore Dua Chaker makes it a habit to drop by the BOLD Center's Student Success Center (SSC) about once a week.

The SSC offers free, drop-in tutoring every day for the first-year and sophomore engineering "foundation" courses. Tutors are available to work with students taking Calculus 1, 2, and 3, Chemistry, Physics, and Differential Equations … and more.

"When I want help, this is my first resource," says Chaker, a civil engineering major.

On a cold, snowy Tuesday in February, Chaker sought help from tutor Ignacio Castellanos on some problems in thermodynamics. "Thermo" isn't on the SSC's tutoring list of courses, "but I know that he knows it," Chaker says. "He's a really good teacher."

Bev Louie, director of teaching and learning initiatives for the BOLD Center, carefully hires tutors who are skilled in explaining complex subjects to others. Many of those who apply, like Castellanos and lead tutor Jon Tebbe, are graduate students working toward becoming college professors someday.

All SSC tutors enjoy seeing students "get it" after working hard on a concept. "It's the fruit of their labor and why our tutors love working with students," says Louie.

Drop-in tutoring has been offered by the BOLD Center for over two years now, and there's rarely an open seat during scheduled sessions. Two tutors are available to work with students almost all the time, and when the SSC fills up, the overflow is handled in the "gold room" down the hall in the BOLD Center.

With support from Chevron and the college—including the Engineering Excellence Fund—the tutoring program is open to students throughout the college, whether or not they participate in other BOLD Center activities.

So far, the outcomes are very positive. "We are finding that students who use the SSC have a higher rate of retention in engineering than students college-wide," Louie says.

Under Louie's direction, the SSC is also working to build "academic excellence" study groups focused around particular courses. Such groups could help to raise the academic performance of a larger number of students, while helping them to feel successful and part of a close-knit community.

It's techniques like that, within the BOLD Center's model of inclusion, that are benefitting students from a wide range of backgrounds and helping them to succeed in engineering.

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