A few years ago, because of budget constraints and the tutoring volume, 
we went from an all appointment-based system for math tutoring to 
drop-in. At first I was very concerned and apprehensive about what we 
would be giving up.  I was very surprised at what happened.  The 
students coming in for tutoring became less dependent on the tutors 
because their time with the tutor was more valuable and there was less 
of it.  Another twist, students began to come in and work with other 
students while waiting for the tutors to get to them.  We were helping 
students create informal study groups so that they were becoming more 
independent of the tutors and more interdependent in seeking help from 
other students.

We have continued to encourage this over the years. Students will often 
spend hours in the center working on their homework, socializing with 
friends and tutors and another phenomena is happening.  Some of our 
instructors are also stopping by to see what their students are doing 
(volunteering time before and/or after class).  The center bustles with 
positive learning energy at almost any time of the day.  We may have 35 
students working in our math center with only 3-5 tutors supporting them 
because most of them are working on their own or with other students or 
passing by instructors.  When they need help they simply raise their 
hands.  The tutors do not simply answer their question, but take the 
opportunity to help them at that exciting teaching moment.  We have 
white boards lining the wall of the math center and it is not uncommon 
for a question to spur a student to the white board and a whole 
discussion led by the student and others pitching in their thoughts as 
to the solution with the tutor there as support as they work through the 
question raised.

We also have some small rooms that students and instructors can reserve 
for study groups or review sessions and we find those being used more 
now too.

As students enter we let them know that generally people sit from the 
lower level math to the higher level math in our open math center.  We 
also have a separate room just for the developmental math we call our 
Math Lab.  Students taking Arithmetic Review and Beginning Algebra are 
in there.  Those in Intermediate Algebra have a choice whether to work 
in the math center or the math lab (most stay in the Math Lab) and those 
in College Algebra and above, have no choice--they need to be out in the 
math center.  The math lab has a higher tutor-to-student ratio, 
manipulatives, less noise, less distractions, more personalized attention.

Our Writing Center in the LSC is the only thing we still have for 
appointments--which works well for it.  Everything else is now drop-in. 
I don't know if this will work in your situation John. I know you said 
walk-in, rather than drop-in, and you mentioned signs in the tutorial 
rooms which sounded different than a central area, so it may be very 
different than what I was describing. I just wanted to share how I was 
pleasantly surprised at how a change we dreaded but made, evolved into 
something great. We used to strive for it to be a quiet space, but now 
we enjoy the buzz of conversations and shared enthusiasm of students and 

Rick Sheets

Cleveland, Prof. John P. wrote:
> Hi all,
> I run a walk-in tutoring center, but I have been concerned about students who come for extended periods of time for tutoring help.  I am also concerned about a problem student who stays for hours.  While I do not currently have a time-limit policy, I do have posters in the tutorial rooms that say that the average tutoring session time is one hour, hoping that students will get the hint.  Do any of you who have walk-in tutoring centers limit tutoring time?  If so, how do you enforce the limit?
> Thanks,
> John Cleveland
> John P. Cleveland, M.T.S., M.A.
> Director, Tutoring Center
> Center for Academic Excellence
> & Adjunct Instructor of Philosophy
> Department of Philosophy & Religious Studies
> Pace University
> 41 Park Row, Room 204
> New York, NY  10038
> 212-346-1407
> 212-346-1520 (fax)
> [log in to unmask]<mailto:[log in to unmask]>
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