Academic Support Services

Division of Student Services

FAQ for Faculty and Staff


This is an evolving document. Please feel free to suggest questions for us to include.

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General FAQ:

Tutoring

Individual Writing Tutors:

Workshops:

General:

What is Academic Support Services?

Academic Support Services is a two-person staff department within the division of Student Services. We are David Gruber, Assistant Dean of Students for Academic Support, and Helen Scharber, Quantitative Skills and Academic Support Coordinator. We report to Julie Maxfield, Associate Dean of Students.

We are housed in the Academic Resource Center/Dorothy Johansen House (“The DoJo”).

Our work includes:

  • Oversight of the peer tutoring program, including drop-in tutoring and the Writing Center
  • One-on-one academic coaching meetings with students
  • Group workshops for quantitative and study skills.
When should I refer a student to Academic Support?

Academic Support staff members are available for one-on-one meetings with students. David Gruber works with students on skills including: reading effectively, producing academic writing, class participation, time management, academic stress, communication with faculty, setting academic goals, or some combination of the above. Helen Scharber can help with academic issues that arise in courses with a quantitative component. This includes help with math background skills (such as algebra, trigonometry, basic calculus, word problems), Excel software, math anxiety, problem sets, and exam review. We are both available to help students learn about tutoring options, and to help them get the most out of their time with a tutor.

If you are unsure if we are the most appropriate resource for a given situation, feel free to contact us to discuss. We are well connected with other offices on campus, and may suggest other resources either in addition to or in place of a coaching meeting.

More information about academic coaching is available on our coaching page.

Does Academic Support arrange accommodations for students with disabilities?

No. Disability accommodations are managed by the Disability Support Services department, which is also housed in the Dorothy Johansen House. However, we do work closely with staff in DSS and our two offices exchange student referrals in both directions. For questions about disability support for students, contact Theresa Lowrie.

FAQ about Tutoring:

The Reed Tutor Handbook, shared with all tutors during their orientation, is another great source of information about the tutoring program.

What is the tutoring program?

Tutoring at Reed is intended to supplement the in-class experience for students and to provide additional resources to the extent that the professors find this helpful and in support of their course goals. We encourage you to use this resource as appropriate and to share with us your preferences regarding tutoring for each class.

Reed manages a peer tutoring program, in which students who have done well in courses and have been recommended by faculty as tutors are trained and listed in an online directory for students to contact. Tutoring is is available to students in two ways:

Individual, or one-on-one tutoring is when a student books a tutor online or via email, and they meet at an agreed location for one hour. Reed has more than 200 tutors available, for around 100 subjects. Students can also book an Individual Writing tutor for help with writing for any subject.

Drop-In tutoring, or group tutoring is when tutors work regular hours at fixed locations in the evenings, and students visit them for help. Drop-in tutoring is held five nights a week (Sun-Thurs, on nights before a class) for most introductory science courses, and at regular hours for Economics, Mathematics and Languages. The Writing Center is also staffed Sun-Thurs and can be visited by students seeking writing help for any course. You can see the full drop-in schedule here.

Who can be a tutor?

All peer tutors are recommended by a faculty member to tutor a specific course, must maintain a cumulative Reed GPA of at least 3.0, and must attend a 90-minute orientation session. This session covers both the mechanics of the job, and a general discussion of best practices for tutors at Reed. If these criteria are met, students will remain employed as tutors for the rest of their Reed careers, unless their GPA drops below 3.0 or a faculty member requests that they discontinue tutoring for a particular course.

How can I see the tutors listed for my course?

An up-to-the-minute list of available individual tutors is always available online. (This list excludes those students who are eligible to tutor for a course, but have chosen to remove their name from the list for the time being. You can always request a full list of eligible tutors by email.) The current drop-in tutoring schedules can also be found online.

How can I recommend a tutor?

To set up individual tutoring for your course, simply recommend one or more students who you think would make good tutors. You can do this in IRIS, or by emailing David or Helen. If you are interested in drop-in tutoring support for your course, contact David and Helen to discuss logistics.

What if I don’t want tutors for my course?

Faculty members always have final say on tutoring availability for their courses. If you do not want to offer peer-tutoring support for your course, just let us know. We will notify any students that had been listed as tutors.

Who pays for tutor wages?

Tutors are paid from the Academic Support Services budget.

Can a tutor hold regular drop-in hours for my course?

Yes, probably. If you would like to set up drop-in tutoring for your course, please contact David or Helen.

What if a student that I recommend doesn’t have time to be a tutor?

Recommended students are invited to become tutors, but not required. (We always check with the students for interest and availability before moving forward with the hiring process.) Once hired, all individual tutors always have the ability to remove their name from the list of available tutors for the course, either temporarily or permanently. During orientation, we encourage tutors to be realistic about their commitments, but if you are concerned about a tutor being overworked you are welcome to discuss this with them or with us.

What can I do to help students in my classes get the most from tutoring and other academic support options?

Tutoring happens outside the classroom, and Reed’s tutoring program is designed to work without the need for faculty involvement beyond the initial recommendation. However, if you are interested in improving the quality of tutoring for your course, here are a few suggestions:

  • Establish clear expectations with students and tutors for how you expect tutoring to work for your course. Clear expectations, especially around issues of academic honesty, can help tutoring sessions go more smoothly.

  • Meet with tutors in person, either formally or informally. Let us know if you would like help scheduling a meeting with all of your course’s tutors. (For a meeting lasting at least 15 minutes, we would pay them for their time.)

  • Add tutors to course Moodles, or otherwise provide them with course materials.

  • Refer students to David or Helen for coaching help for working with tutors, especially if you’ve heard a student complain that tutoring doesn’t work for them.

Are tutors paid for prep time?

In general, we do not pay tutors to prepare for a session, and we do not expect them to spend their own time doing it. However, we have made exceptions in the past (at faculty request) when the lack of prep time was severely hindering a tutor’s ability to be effective.

During orientation, we stress that it’s OK for a tutor to be rusty with material they may not have seen for a year or more, and that they may need some time during the session to bring themselves up to speed. If they don’t know an answer, we expect them to share some ideas about finding it, or to refer students to faculty office hours.

What is the maximum amount of tutoring a student can receive?

Students at Reed are eligible to receive up to one hour of individual tutoring per week, per course (for courses that offer tutoring). We occasionally make exceptions to this limit for specific students, either at the request of the instructor or as an accommodation arranged by Disability Support Services. For courses with scheduled drop-in tutoring, students may attend as many drop-in sessions as they like.

Individual Writing Tutors

What services does an individual writing tutor provide?

Individual writing tutors are Reed undergraduates who have been recommended by faculty to tutor their peers based on their writing skills and/or experience providing feedback on peer writing. These tutors can meet with any Reed undergraduate for up to one hour per week to offer advice and feedback on any paper or writing assignment. These tutors only help with issues related to writing; for instance, they may assist students with brainstorming responses to an assignment, developing arguments or analyzing evidence, or structuring and proofreading a draft. They may also help with other writing-related issues such as grammar, syntax, and diction. Individual writing tutors do not assist students with understanding coursework; students are referred back to faculty or course-specific tutors for those needs.

Can students who use an individual writing tutor also use the Writing Center?

Yes.  Students who work with an individual writing tutor may also visit the Writing Center during its operating hours (6-10pm, Sunday-Thursday). Students may use the drop-in services of the Writing Center as frequently as they choose each week.  

How do I recommend someone to become an individual writing tutor?

We only hire tutors based on faculty recommendation. If you are aware of a student with strong skills in writing and/or providing peer feedback on writing, please use the “Recommend a tutor” page in IRIS and click the “Writing” checkbox. You do not need to complete the “Subject” field as well, unless you also wish to recommend the student as a tutor for a subject-specific course. You may also send tutor recommendations to me by email (gruberd@reed.edu) at any time.

Are there any differences in the qualifications for a writing tutor and a subject-specific tutor?

No. All writing tutors must be recommended for the position, maintain a 3.0 Reed GPA, and attend the required training in order to be hired for the position. Students serving as individual writing tutors will have opportunities to attend additional training sessions focused on writing-specific topics.

What is the difference between a thesis tutor for writing and an individual writing tutor?

There is no difference: all writing tutors are eligible to serve as thesis tutors. Academic Support provides students working on a thesis with up to one and a half hours per week of tutoring for writing. The additional half-hour allotted for working with thesising seniors allows the tutor to review longer sections of text ahead of a tutoring session or otherwise help the student grapple with the thesis process. Thesis tutors will focus on writing-related issues, and are trained to refer students back to faculty advisers for questions or help with the subject matter of their thesis.

Is there a way for students to find a tutor with a background in my department?

Yes; we ask individual writing tutors to create a biographical note for themselves in which they identify their majors and/or academic areas where they have significant experience. Students seeking a tutor can then search the list of tutors for those with backgrounds in specific disciplines.

Workshops:

Can I request a workshop for my course?

Yes, absolutely! Academic Support Services staff members regularly offer outside-the-classroom workshops on study skills and quantitative skills. Some of these are scheduled in advance and offered to any interested students, while some are offered in consultation with faculty members and are targeted at students in a particular course. If you would like to request a workshop, contact David (study skills) or Helen (quantitative skills) to begin the process. We encourage suggestions for brand-new workshop topics, but please be aware that it takes more time to plan a new workshop than to offer an existing workshop. For more information about workshops, see our Academic Workshops page.

Upcoming Workshops

Contact

The Academic Resource Center and academic support services staff are located in the Dorothy Johansen (DoJo) House.

David Gruber
Assistant Dean of Students for Academic Support
503/517-7722

Helen Scharber
Quantitative Skills & Academic Support Coordinator
503/517-7690