Learning and Writing centers plan full schedule of remote tutoring services

nittany lion mascot seated at computer in campus computer lab

Beginning Feb. 1 and throughout the semester, Penn State Scranton's Learning and Writing centers will offer a full schedule of remote tutoring services and special programming available to students looking for academic assistance.

Credit: Penn State

DUNMORE, Pa. — Penn State Scranton students looking to enhance their academic performance outside of the classroom will find plenty of options this semester.

Throughout the semester, the campus’ Learning and Writing Centers will offer a full schedule of remote tutoring services and special programming.

Associate Director of Learning and Disability Services Eileen Giovagnoli said students can benefit greatly from utilizing the services, given the rigor that’s gone into translating them to the virtual realm.

Beginning Monday, Feb. 1, the Learning and Writing Centers will offer real-time individual tutoring sessions on Zoom. And, thanks to the remote set-up, those services will now be available on evenings and weekends.

Giovagnoli said student tutors have received extensive training for the online sessions.

“We continue to offer the same excellent services of tutoring and academic coaching although all services are now delivered remotely.” Giovagnoli said. “Our greatest challenge has been ensuring that students know how to access our services online. In addition to expanding our hours of availability, our staff developed creative ways to raise awareness about our services and make connections with our students through drop-in Zoom rooms, videos, online events, Canvas pages and increased contacts with our faculty.”

Students who thus far have taken advantage of remote tutoring have found it to be much like the in-person experience, according to Writing Center Coordinator Kate Lafferty-Danner. In fact, the testimonials that the centers received at the end of the fall semester were overwhelmingly positive.

“The students we worked with last semester found it wasn’t nearly as awkward or intimidating as they initially thought,” Lafferty-Danner said. “There’s a little bit of a hesitation to working with a tutor remotely, but the students whom we met with last semester had very positive feedback about the experience. I had many first-time Writing Center visitors in the fall who said that they wished they had come to us earlier because it was so helpful to talk about their papers. Tutoring is great for every student at any level since it is always helpful to talk with someone else about your writing and find new ways to improve.”

To make the tutoring process as easy as possible this semester, the centers’ staff members have created two Canvas pages — a main Learning and Writing Centers page, and a dedicated Writing Center page — that students can easily access from anywhere. There, they’ll find several short videos to help them navigate the sign-up process.

In addition, the centers are holding daily lunchtime sessions where students can go with quick questions. The Zoom sessions begin every day at noon and can be joined at: https://psu.zoom.us/j/93563376415.

And, the Blue and White OWL will be available for asynchronous online writing assistance beginning the second week of classes. Additional information is available at: https://scranton.psu.edu/blue-and-white-owl.

Meanwhile, the centers will be offering in-class presentations and workshops throughout the entire semester, and are reaching out to faculty with the option of embedding tutors in individual courses, from English composition sections to the more challenging math and science classes, according to Giovagnoli.

“We did a pilot in the fall with expanded embedded tutoring and we found that the embedded tutors conducted a higher percentage of the tutoring appointments than those who were not embedded,” Giovagnoli said.

And, as always, the centers are offering a series of special events throughout the semester, both remotely and in person. They include:

Math Mania Online Virtual Event — This online event showcasing the Learning Center’s math resources will be held from noon to 1 p.m. daily through Jan. 29. Attendees will have the chance to win Amazon gift cards and various Penn State swag. For more information, visit the Canvas event page: https://psu.instructure.com/courses/2115654/pages/math-mania.

Meet the Learning and Writing Centers! — This informational event centered on introducing students to the centers and its staff will take place online Feb. 8-26, and in person Feb. 15 and 16 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. outside the View Café. Attendees will have the chance to win Amazon gift cards and various Penn State swag. For more information, visit the Canvas event page: https://psu.instructure.com/courses/2115654/pages/meet-the-learning-and-writing-center-events.

Writing Workshop Wednesdays: The Writing Center will host five virtual workshops on a variety of topics Feb. 3 and 17, March 3 and 17, and April 14, with all sessions taking place from noon to 1 p.m. To attend the workshops, visit the Zoom link: https://psu.zoom.us/j/96225310330.

Designing Your Poster: On March 2, from noon to 1 p.m., the Writing Center and the Library will host a virtual Undergraduate Research Fair workshop on designing poster presentations. To attend the workshop, visit the Zoom link: https://psu.zoom.us/j/97841318134.

Day Against Procrastination — On March 22, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. outside of the View Café, the centers will offer useful information on how students can avoid procrastination and make their semester as successful as possible.  

Test and Writing Anxiety Stress Relief Event — On April 26, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. outside of the View Café, the centers will provide information on how to avoid test and writing anxiety.

For more information on the Learning and Writing Centers’ services and events, call 570-963-2678 or email Giovagnoli at [email protected] or Lafferty-Danner at [email protected]. Or, visit the centers’ web page, https://scranton.psu.edu/learning-center, or Canvas page, https://psu.instructure.com/courses/2115654.