Learning Center Helps Students Succeed

Alin Boughousi, Staff Writer

With the difficult level of some college courses, many students find the need for help in the form of tutoring. Luckily, GCC offers students the Learning Center as a haven for studying and preparation.

The center, which is located in the Administration Building Room 232, provides supplementary tools for students to succeed and serves as a source for auxiliary instruction.

Since 2009 English professor Shant Shahoian has been the center’s coordinator. He also reaches out to the campus as a whole to make everyone aware of what the center does.

“I train the tutors and organize the workshops,” said Shahoian. “I speak with different campus constituents to make sure they know what we do and also partner with them.”

Students are asked to fill out surveys after their tutoring appointments to rate the service they received.  Tutors also complete surveys for additional feedback. Shahoian uses these survey results to improve the study skills of students. During the tutoring training sessions, he puts more emphasis on study skills, so that tutors can help students develop the right habits.

Students who are interested in tutoring have to go through a lengthy process. For example, if a student passes English 101 and other higher classes, they have to be recommended by their instructors. Then they fill out applications and are interviewed. Shahoian said he trains the tutors through an online class and observes and gives them feedback.

“I also meet with them two or three times during the semester at tutor meetings,” he said.

Tutors at the Learning Center enjoy working with students and like to help them out with difficult problems. Vanessa Payes, who is studying film, is a writing tutor who likes to help struggling students with their assignments.

“One of my English teachers recommended me to be a writing tutor because my writing was very strong,” said Payes. “I love to help students and have them development their own abilities and strategies for assignments and to promote independent learning.”

Anahid Mosala, 22, who majors in sociology, is a statistics tutor. She loves to see her students succeed in their assignments.

“I took a statistics class last semester,” said Mosala. “After taking it, my professor referred me to the center and said I would be a good fit for it. I enjoy helping others. It’s so exciting to see them solve the problem themselves.”

Many students who use the tutoring services are very happy and say they get the help they badly need.

Catherine Chastang, a math student, finds that the  tutors are more personable and connect on a one-on-one level.

“The tutors are more in touch with the struggles of the students compared to a professor who only likes to teach a lesson,” said Chastang.

The center was founded in 1971 by English professor Theodore Connett as a way of tutoring students who needed help with their English classes. After Connett retired, Dr. Benice Lindo, a reading specialist, took over and combined all of GCC’s learning resources under the umbrella of the Learning Center.

After Lindo left to work for the private industry, which was Instant Phonics, a program she created to help with reading. In 1979, she was replaced by Cora de Rowe, a former dean of Instructional Support Service, who was responsible for the English as a Second Language program. She then hired Dennis Doyle as a specialist for students who had problems with reading. Unfortunately, Cora passed away due to terminal cancer in the late 1984s. Denis Van Dam, a long-time English professor, replaced her.

During the 2012-13 academic year students visited the Learning Center 35,053 times. This year, the number increased to 35,282.

Shahoian wants the best for his students and aspires for them to succeed in their classes.

“I hope all students, honor roll candidates and struggling students alike, see the Learning Center as a safe place to learn, explore, and grow,” said Shahoian.  “All learning, by its very nature, is developmental, and we hope to provide a space that develops each student’s potential.”

The Learning Center is offering Peer Interactive Experience today  through the 29. Students will be able to ask English instructors questions on writing assigments.