Office of Academic Support

Division of Student Life

FAQ for Faculty and Staff

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

General FAQ

The Office of Academic Support is a two-person staff department within the division of Student Life. David Gruber is the Director of the Office for Academic Support. We are also currently in the process of hiring a new Quantitative Skills Specialist & Tutor Program Manager. 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.

Academic Support staff members are available for one-on-one meetings with students. 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.

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.

Academic Support staff are available to help students learn about tutoring options, and to help them get the most out of their time with a tutor.

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.

General Tutoring FAQ

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 usually held in the evenings and five nights a week (Sun-Thurs, on nights before a class) for most introductory science courses. You can find the full schedule here.

Tutors are paid from the the Office of Academic Support budget. In special cases, a department may elect to have higher wages than we provide, in which case we work out student wage logistics with the department.

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.

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.

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 the Tutor Program Coordinator. If you are interested in drop-in tutoring support for your course, contact David and Miguel to discuss logistics.

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.

Yes, probably. If you would like to set up drop-in tutoring for your course, please contact the Tutor Program Coordinator

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.

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 Academic Support staff for coaching help for working with tutors, especially if you’ve heard a student complain that tutoring doesn’t work for them.

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.

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 Tutoring FAQ

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.

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

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 the Tutor Program Coordinator at any time.

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.

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.

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.

Drop-in Tutoring FAQ

Drop-in tutors are department-specific tutors that are able to assist students with course content and homework in group settings.

Drop-in tutoring is held at several locations around campus, in the evenings of most nights before a class. Many subjects have drop-in hours at the Dorothy Johansen House (the DoJo), which also houses the Writing Center.

There is no limit to the number of hours that a student may access drop-in tutoring, unlike individual tutoring. Additionally, this allows students the opportunity to work collaboratively with peers and a variety of tutors.

The drop-in tutor onboarding process is different amongst various departments. For example, Biology and Chemistry entrust hiring drop-in tutors to Academic Support while other departments use hybrid practices (they are in charge of finding tutors, but we hire and train them) for selecting drop-in tutors.

However, we handle the new tutor orientation, subsequent trainings, payroll, and supervisory responsibilities (otherwise noted by an agreement with a department).

The current drop-in schedule can be accessed on the Drop-In Schedule page. Note: you'll need to log in with your Reed ID in order to maintain privacy and security protocol.

Workshop FAQ

Yes, absolutely! Academic Support 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 the Tutor Program Coordinator 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.

This past F18-S19 academic year we hosted the following workshops:

  • Algebra Refresher
  • Calculus Refresher
  • Dimensional Analysis & Significant Figures
  • Intro to Excel
  • Into to LaTeX
  • Logarithms Refresher
  • Reading and Note-Taking
  • Stoichiometry, Waves, & Light Review
  • Time Management