General Questions

Do you offer one-on-one tutoring?

No; all of our programs are peer-led and are designed to support students in a small-group context.

There is a growing body of research indicating that small-group tutoring improves student outcomes, particularly in the sciences (see Gaudet, Ramer, Nakonechny, Cragg, & Ramer, 2006) and positively influences students’ interest in the material they are learning (see Dolmans & Schmidt, 2006). This tutoring format allows students to work together to solve problems, gain deeper insights into challenging course material by hearing other students’ questions, and develop their knowledge and skills with the help of supportive peers.

References:

Dolmans, D. H., & Schmidt, H. G. (2006). What do we know about cognitive and motivational effects of small group tutorials in problem-based learning?. Advances in Health Sciences Education, 11(4), 321.

Gaudet, A. D., Ramer, L. M., Nakonechny, J., Cragg, J. J., & Ramer, M. S. (2010). Small-Group Learning in an Upper-Level University Biology Class Enhances Academic Performance and Student Attitudes Toward Group Work. PLoS ONE, 5(12), e15821.

Can you recommend a one-on-one private tutor?

Although the Learning Center does not directly provide one-on-one tutoring services, we are familiar with some departmental and external tutoring programs that provide this kind of support (usually for a fee). These resources may not be available for all courses, but we would be happy to help you explore your options.

What programs and services does the Learning Center offer?

Our programs and services are designed to help facilitate students’ transition into university life, support their intellectual growth and maturity, and prepare them for post-graduation academic and professional experiences. We offer three kinds of programs:

  • Course-specific support (Peer-Led Team Learning, drop-in mentoring services, and Matched Academic Mentoring)
  • General academic skills support (Academic Skills Peer Coaching)
  • Graduate and professional school test preparation courses
Are your programs free?

Yes!* All of our programs are free to eligible WashU students.

* With the exception of our graduate and professional school test prep programs; however, financial aid is available. Click here to learn more.

What is the difference between tutoring and mentoring?

Tutoring programs primarily aim to help students master course content. Mentoring is multidimensional; mentors go beyond providing basic course content support by also helping students develop the lifelong skill of “learning how to learn,” modeling and teaching helpful skills and behaviors, sharing their own experiences with younger students, connecting students to other campus resources, and facilitating effective group learning.

What are your mentors' qualifications?

Our student mentoring staff is comprised of talented and well-trained undergraduate students representing over 50 academic majors. Mentors are required to earn a minimum grade of A- in order to mentor for a particular course, and complete (at minimum) one full semester of training when they start work. PLTL leaders and Residential Peer Mentors receive additional support and ongoing training from their respective departments.

How can I become an Academic Mentor, PLTL leader, or RPM? 

The Learning Center recruitment cycle begins at the beginning of each spring semester, for positions that start the following fall. To be eligible for a position, you should have earned a grade of at least A- in any course(s) for which you wish to mentor; specific positions may have other eligibility requirements.

Click here to learn more about working with us and access applications, if they are currently open.

Do you provide support for executive functioning issues?

Yes! Our academic skills resource library is a great place to start. Students can also meet one-on-one with a staff member or Academic Skills Peer Coach for individualized support in managing their executive dysfunction, including help getting connected to WashU’s Disability Resources office or external resources as appropriate.

Will you tell my parents that I came to the Learning Center for help?

No. Due to FERPA and other privacy laws, we can’t discuss anything about your enrollment, academic performance, or use of our services with students’ parents or guardians. We are committed to protecting students’ privacy, and for this reason, we strongly recommend that students reach out to us directly if they are interested in using our services.

I'm an instructor or staff member at WashU. Does the Learning Center provide workshops or other support for specific courses or programs? 

Yes! Our full-time and student staff are available to deliver workshops on a variety of topics related to academic support strategies and resources. We are also happy to work with you to integrate evidence-based information and strategies into your course structure. To request a workshop or collaboration, email us at learningcenter@wustl.edu.

I have a question. Should I contact Disability Resources or the Learning Center?

If your question pertains to course-specific tutoring/mentoring, help with academic skills (time management, study strategies, etc.), or enrolling in a graduate/professional test preparation course, go ahead and reach out to the Learning Center!

Here are some common question topics that are better addressed by Disability Resources (314-935-5970; disabilityresources@wustl.edu):

  • Classroom accommodations related to a disability, including peer note-taking, alternate format textbooks, smart pens, audio recording lectures, etc.
  • Exam accommodations, including extra time, modified testing environment, etc.
  • Housing accommodations
  • Documentation for extra time or other accommodations for graduate/professional tests administered outside of WashU
  • Picking up or dropping off exams for students with accommodations

If you still aren’t sure where to direct your question, go ahead and give us a call or shoot us an email! We can discuss your specific concern or situation in more detail and help you get connected to the relevant resource(s).

Peer-Led Team Learning (PLTL)

What is Peer-Led Team Learning (PLTL)?

Peer-Led Team Learning is a model of collaborative learning that supplements General Chemistry I and II and Calculus I, II and III. Groups of 6-8 students work together to solve problems, and groups are facilitated by a highly-trained PLTL leader. PLTL groups meet once a week for two hours.

Which courses have PLTL support?

Currently, PLTL is available for Calculus (I, II, & III), General Chemistry (Chem 105/106 and 111/112), and Physics (I & II).

Who should I contact with questions about PLTL?

The Learning Center (learningcenter@wustl.edu) can answer general questions about the PLTL program, but for questions related to PLTL for specific courses, you should reach out to our campus partners:

Calculus: Lisa Kuehne, lmkuehne@wustl.edu

Chemistry: Chem PLTL staff, genchem@wustl.edu

Physics: Jay Schroeder, PLTL@physics.wustl.edu

When and how should I sign up for PLTL?

Applications for PLTL groups are submitted online starting on the first day of class during the Fall and Spring semesters. Students in Calculus, Chemistry and Physics will be provided with sign-up instructions and deadlines via email, Canvas, and in-class announcements.

Drop-in Support

What is Residential Peer Mentoring (RPM)?

RPM sessions are being offered virtually via Zoom for the 2020-2021 academic year.

Residential Peer Mentors provide drop-in support for General Chemistry and Calculus courses in the residential colleges on the South 40. All WashU students are welcome to visit RPM sessions, even if they are not held in the residence hall where you live. RPMs are trained and supported by staff from their respective departments (Chemistry or Math), as well as Learning Center staff.

Click here to learn more.

What is Drop-in Academic Mentoring?

Drop-in Academic Mentoring sessions are being offered virtually via Zoom for the 2020-2021 academic year.

Drop-in Academic Mentoring is very similar to RPM; the key difference is that Drop-in Mentoring sessions are offered for a wider variety of foundational courses, and sessions typically take place in classrooms on the Danforth campus. All students are welcome to attend Drop-in Mentoring sessions.

Click here to learn more.

What should I expect from an RPM or drop-in mentoring session?

Attendance for RPM and Drop-in Mentoring sessions can vary considerably depending on the time of year and proximity to an exam. For larger courses, it is not unusual for 10-20+ students to attend a session.

Students are welcome to stop by at any time during a scheduled session, and it is not a requirement to stay for the full session time; however, the Learning Center recommends that you arrive early if you have a lot of questions.

A mentor will be present to answer questions, help with homework, and facilitate group learning. Sometimes, students come prepared with specific questions or goals, but others may use the session time as an opportunity to study, either alone or with friends, without necessarily interacting directly with the mentor.

The Learning Center encourages students to “shop around” for a RPM/Drop-in session that meets their needs. Every mentor runs their sessions a little differently, and some sessions tend to attract more attendees than others. There is no harm in attending several sessions until you find a mentor with whom you “click,” whose sessions you can see yourself attending regularly, as needed.

Matched Academic Mentoring

What is Matched Academic Mentoring (MAM)?

Matched Academic Mentoring provides supplemental learning opportunities in a small group setting (1-4 students) for select groups of students in select courses. Based on their needs, eligible students are intentionally matched with a mentor for support in conceptual understanding, learning strategies, problem solving strategies, and goal setting in up to two courses per semester.

Read more about the program and request a mentor here.

Who is eligible to join a MAM group?

Students are eligible for MAM if they belong to at least one of the following groups: TRIO Scholars program, First-Year Summer Academic Program (FSAP), students on Academic Probation, and/or students in Progress Counseling.

Members of the Deneb STARS program may also be deemed eligible after meeting with a Learning Center staff member.

What should I expect from a MAM session?

MAM sessions run for 1-2 hours (depending on the course) and groups meet at a fixed time once per week. Especially if you are matched early in the semester, you may be the only student in your group at first, but more students will likely be added as the semester goes on.

Unless you, your mentor, and your fellow group member(s) choose to implement a specific agenda for your meetings, you can expect your MAM sessions to be fairly unstructured. You can use this time to ask questions about challenging concepts, get help with homework, and/or brainstorm strategies to help you get the most out of your class time and studying.

Depending on the size of the group and students’ preferences, you may work together with other group members to solve problems, or you may take turns working one-on-one with the mentor. We encourage you to talk to your mentor about what you’re hoping to get out of your sessions so they can work with you to make sure you have the best possible experience!

What should I do if I have to miss a scheduled MAM session?

If you know ahead of time that you won’t be able to attend a scheduled MAM session, please inform your mentor at least 4 hours prior to your meeting start time. Rescheduling will not always be possible (and is up to the Learning Center’s discretion), but especially if you inform your mentor well in advance of your absence, you may be able to schedule a make-up session.

If you have an emergency that prevents you from attending a scheduled MAM session, take care of the emergency first, but please inform your mentor as soon as you have a chance to do so.

The course I need help with is not listed on the MAM request form. What should I do?

Go ahead and submit the request form; there’s a space at the bottom of the course list to request an unlisted course. Depending on our mentors’ qualifications and availability, we may be able to find a mentor for the course or connect you with other resources for support.

I don't qualify for MAM, but I am interested in receiving additional support. Who should I contact?

Shoot us an email at learningcenter@wustl.edu! We can set up a meeting to talk about your needs and get you connected to the appropriate WashU or external resources.

You may also want to check and see if your school or department offers mentoring for any of the courses you’re struggling with. Click here to check out some of the tutoring programs that are available outside of the Learning Center, but do note that this directory is not exhaustive.

Academic Skills Peer Coaching

What is Academic Skills Peer Coaching?

Academic Skills Peer Coaches are undergraduate students who have been trained to help students develop skills such as staying organized, finding a study routine, communicating with instructors, adapting to different methods of instruction, group work, study skills, test anxiety, and more!

How Can I Sign Up for a Peer Coaching Session?

Click here to access our scheduling system. You will be prompted to log in with your WUSTL key credentials.

There is currently no limit as to how many Peer Coaching sessions a student can attend per semester, although the Learning Center reserves the right to cancel some sessions if students abuse the appointment booking system (i.e., filling all or nearly all appointment slots for an extended period of time).

How often you meet with a Peer Coach is totally up to you! Some students choose to meet with a Peer Coach for help with a one-off concern or situation; others may prefer to meet periodically throughout the semester or even weekly.

What should I expect from a Peer Coaching session?

Peer Coaching sessions are one-on-one and typically last for 30 minutes. Especially if it’s your first time meeting with a Peer Coach, you can expect that they will spend the first few minutes learning more about you and your goals for the session. They may do this by asking questions or reviewing your responses to the Academic Skills Assessment, if applicable.

Once you have established a purpose and goals for the session, the remainder of your time will be spent brainstorming strategies, setting goals, and coming up with an action plan for the future. Your coach may also talk to you about scheduling a follow-up appointment in the future, if you both agree that this could be beneficial.

Does the Learning Center offer any other resources to help with academic skills?

Yes! Our Academic Skills Peer Coaching page is also a great starting point to discover other resources, including our academic skills resource library.