The Rollins Resource Center, also known as TJ’s (The Thomas P. Johnson Student Resource Center), was rated 5.4 out of 6 on a Service Excellence survey by students, parents and faculty. On Wednesday, Oct. 17, representatives of the Service Excellent Committee congratulated Suzanne Robertshaw, Tutoring and Writing Coordinator, for the great rating given to the peer tutors, writing consultants and receptionists for the year 2011-2012.
“With a hundred people working here and many possibilities to ‘screw-up’ it is good to still get rated so highly,” Robertshaw laughs. Among the nine other awarded departments, which have only around five employees, the Post Office and the Office of Multicultural Affairs were best rated. According to Robertshaw, the great rating for the Resource Center is partly due to the training courses tutors and writing consultants are required to complete. The courses are aligned with the goals of the college Service Excellence’s four dimensions for all employees: responsibility, respect, collaboration and competency.
This is the 28th year of the Writing Center and the 15th year of Tutoring at Rollins. Currently, 92 students work as tutors and writing consultants and 13 students are front desk receptionists. “It’s the biggest number of tutors that we’ve ever had,” said Robertshaw, who has been employed at Rollins for 21 years.
In the last year, 1,181 unique visitors used the free service offered by the Rollins Resource Center. They scheduled appointments for 2,250 hours in tutoring and 1,850 hours in writing consulting. About 15 percent of students are required by their professors to make an appointment, but most students come voluntarily. According to Robertshaw, International Business majors use tutoring and writing consulting the most, especially in foreign languages. Tutors assist with study skills, test preparation or overall learning for a variety of classes in all departments, while writing consultants work with students in any stage of the writing process.
“[TJ’s] was very helpful and my professor was impressed that I went on my own behalf to see a tutor,” said Carli Davis ’15, Environmental Studies major. Joakim Karlsson’15, an International Business major, went to TJ’s in search of help with his essays. “[My consultant] didn’t correct my essay,” Karlsson says. “The writing consultant told me how to structure every essay and basically how I start an essay. Now it’s much easier for me to write an essay when I have the structure already.”
Students can schedule appointments online for any day of the week between Sunday and Friday, at least 24 hours ahead of time. They sign in online at Accudemia with their R-Card number and their name. If they need assistance with making an appointment, they can call 407-646-2308 to speak to the front desk receptionists. However, some students report that Accudemia is a barrier. “Part of it is that students don’t read the directions on the front page,“ Robertshaw says. But she is also not totally happy with the online system. “This is just the second year we are using Accudemia and we are still trying to understand this computer system.”
The Rollins Resource Center is not only a service to students but also professional development for tutors. “In general, I look at it as a way that I’m helping my peers,” said Lalitha Kasal ’15, a Spanish Tutor. “As I’m tutoring, it’s still a review for me, but I just have a little bit more thought into it. So I can tell them a little bit more about what they don’t know and I can explain it in a way a student can understand it.”
Good relationships with professors and a better looking CV when applying for scholarships can result from working as a tutor or writing consultant. Students offer six hours a week and get paid for every hour spent with clients. Additionally, they earn class credit for meeting weekly with other tutors and Robertshaw.
In December, the week after exams, the Resource Center will move into the Olin Library to occupy the old 24-hour lab, now called the Lakeview Lab. “They have a huge computer lab back there and that will be helpful,” Robertshaw says. According to Robertshaw, there is a movement at many colleges to create a learning community that changes libraries into more than just research centers. Robertshaw comments “I think that once we are in the library, we will have even more visibility.”