Dear David and All LC Professionals,

Well, the best spin on this phenomenon is that Learning Assistance is
successful when the call for services decreases.  Yes, this LC historically
sees a decrease in the spring semester usage of tutors.  In the fall of
2000, our overall usage was 83%; spring 2001 netted 64% use of all available
hours.  Hence, our percentage for the year is roughly 74%; the statistics
recorded reveal very similar usage for the last several years.  Of course,
these percents take into account very slow times during the beginning of the
semester and very busy times during midterms and end of the semesters.  (We
did not average in usage during finals week since we operate a very reduced
schedule but have 99% tutor use.)  As far a real numbers, the fall served
906 individuals; the spring served 592 individuals.  Fall 2000 saw 2693.75
hours of tutoring; spring 2001 logged 1579.75 hours of tutoring.

Our hypothesis is that many freshmen learn to navigate their classes (and
the entire college experience) in the fall and do not need as much support
in the spring. Some students really have mastered study skills and others
fool themselves into thinking they have mastery.  Either way, former tutees
decide to go it alone.  Many courses are sequential (101 and 102), so
students tend to feel more comfort in the second semester.  This is
especially true for students taking the freshman writing sequence in English
101 and 102.  However, the trend also seems to play out for Bio 211 and 212
as well as Chem. 210 and 211: the first course in the sequence (usually
taken in the fall) generates more tutoring hours than the spring

We are currently crunching more numbers because over 50% of all tutoring we
do is in math.  (No pun intended.)  We want to track which courses are most
often tutored in the fall and spring.  Certain advanced calculus classes,
for example, are required for science majors, and the semester in which
tutorial support occurs is driven by entrance exams and "placing out" of
lower level math courses.

Some folks insist that spring semester weather plays a role in tutoring
usage.  Actually, in Connecticut, most of spring semester is snowy, icy, and
cold, so perhaps students don't want to venture out to the Learning Center.
However, they are out going to classes anyway.  By April, we often have some
lovely early spring days, and the theory is that students can no longer
concentrate on academics but rather focus on Frisbee.  Both of these
observations hold true for a few students, but are largely specious.

Many students and tutors explain the drop in use during spring by saying
that students are fired up about academics in the fall, but in the spring,
enthusiasm wanes and students don't feel the same drive to succeed and
extend themselves.  As an academic counselor who advises students one-on-one
and in group study skills seminars, I see many students who feel a
cumulative exhaustion in spring. Many cannot think of adding another hour or
two to their schedules for tutorial support even though that is exactly what
would help them feel less overwhelmed.  I have decided to employ more
e-mails encouraging students to schedule tutoring early on in the semester
and stay with it throughout fall and spring.

Back to the original hypothesis; we ask tutees to evaluate their tutors and
the entire LC operation each semester.  Tabulating approximately 250
responses each semester, we have learned that satisfaction rates are equal
in both semesters.  So perhaps those students who attend in the fall really
do receive enough support and what they are seeking to carry them through
into spring.  We'll get back to you after more data collection and analysis.

Keep on keepin' on,

Judy Villa

-----Original Message-----
From: David Shein [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
Sent: Friday, June 22, 2001 6:29 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: question about fall to spring attendance in your learning


I hope you can help with this:

As I complete my end-of-term report for my Dean, I notice a decrease in
attendance in my learning center from fall to spring term-- fewer
students requested peer tutoring in the spring term than in the fall
term.  This mirrors my experience at my previous institution, giving rise
to a pair of questions: (1) does anyone else experience a similar trend?
(2) if so, to what to you attribute the drop-off?  (My current hypothesis
is that first-year students utilize  tutoring services in fall term
(their first) to kind of get their feet planted and then, after a
semester of college, strike out on their own.  If this is correct, usage
statistics should indicate a decline in usage among first-year students
from fall to spring.  I'm going to look into this but, in the meantime, I
sure would appreciate the thoughts of other professionals.)

Many thanks in advance,

David Shein
Director of Academic Services
Bard College
Annandale-on-Hudson, NY 12504
tel:  845-758-7811
fax: 845-758-7646