Dru O’Rourke

The Bernard B. Rinella, Jr. Learning Center has experienced a major change recently, as the number of students requesting academic support is rapidly increasing.

This is especially evident in the Tutorial Assistance Program, with a much higher number of tutoring appointments than in the past, leading to difficulties in the number of available tutors, said Kristy Drobney, coordinator of Learning Support Services with the Rinella Learning Center.

“It’s not that we’re lacking the normal number of tutors, it’s that our appointments and clients are up drastically for this time of year,” Drobney said. “At this time last year, 678 appointments had occurred, right now, we have had 1,055 appointments.”

Drobney said this is the first time that tutoring at Rinella has been free. Last year students had to pay a “nominal” fee of about $23 for five sessions.

According to Drobney, the tutoring program is actively working to recruit tutors in order to handle the influx of appointments and clients.

A professor or teaching assistant recommends the majority of student tutors and Rinella then recruits them, according to Drobney.

“A good number of those recommended are recruited,” Drobney added.

According to Drobney, the tutor then must complete a one-credit hour course called EDT310: Methods of Tutoring Adults, which takes care of the administrative aspects of the program, as well as training the students on how to tutor.

Because all of the tutors come in with a good amount of content knowledge, the class focuses on various techniques on how to help someone else learn the material. It provides various study skills and practices that can be used with their clients, Drobney explained.

While the number of students looking for tutoring is clearly increasing, Drobney is optimistic.

“Training is on track and we will hire and train as the semester rolls on,” Drobney said, also mentioning that Rinella currently has 130 tutors and hopes to boost that number to 250 by the time they are done recruiting.

Miami senior Heather Miller has been a tutor since her sophomore year, tutoring students in French and German.

“I know many of our tutors have a ridiculous number of clients and are working much more than usual to try and give everyone a tutor,” Miller said.

Tutors typically work 6-10 hours per week, but that can vary based on the subject material and the availability of each individual tutor, Miller said.

Drobney said tutors make $7.70 per hour, with $.40 cent increases after the first semester of working.

According to Miller, the overall goal of the tutoring program is to help the clients learn on their own. To do this, the tutors do not just answer questions but teach the various methods of studying instead-so that the client is better able to help him or herself in the future.

However, the number in tutoring appointments and clients is not the only area Rinella has seen an increase-the attendance in learning and studying workshops is up as well, according to Drobney.

Rinella sponsors various workshop series that address academics throughout the year; typically 10-30 students attend, but there were 50 in attendance at the most recent event, Drobney said.

“As students continue to seek help, we will continue to work with the faculty to get everyone’s needs met,” Drobney said.

Although there are clearly some kinks to be worked out in the tutoring program, as Drobney said that it’s not necessarily a bad problem.

“Students are looking for academic help, it is a good problem to have,” Drobney said.