MSU Tutoring Center: Revamped and Ready for the Semester

Midwestern State University’s Tutoring and Academic Support Programs (TASP), previously located in Prothro Yeager and McCullough Hall,  has found its new home in the freshly renovated Moffett Library. 

TASP’s webpage says their mission is, “to provide the necessary support to help students achieve academic success,” through a variety of resources. Their services extend to any student, faculty, or staff on campus seeking help with classes, advising and connections.

Tutoring Center
Students utilize the new tutoring center desks on the second floor of Moffett Library. Sept. 15. (Bridget Reilly)

The new TASP center – including the staff offices, Learning Center and first-year seminar classrooms – can be found in Moffett Library on the first floor across from the Information Desk. All of the tutors from TASP are students, both undergraduate and graduate, that have been faculty-referred by their departments. Being a student allows the tutors to better understand the struggles of the students they’re teaching.

“The move has been beneficial because of its ideal location in the library, which is the place most students go to study,” George Nhamo, an academic tutor for math and mechanical engineering and mechanical engineering senior, said. “The learning and homework help centers are in close proximity.”

Phelecia Scotland, chemistry and math tutor and chemistry senior with a minor in math, said she also felt the Moffett Library was a great place to host tutoring. 

“The best part about being in Moffett Library is that it is a conducive environment for learning,” Scotland said. “The newly renovated layout is very charming, and the new furniture makes it easy to work with students one on one or in groups.”

The move has been anticipated for about two years. Gatherings like monthly staff meetings, professional development opportunities and orientation have already been merged, but now the two main centers of TASP have merged as well.

Tutoring center
Tutors, physics sophomore Joann Kleinheyer and Sociology senior Autumn Fredline wait for students to help. Sept. 15. (Bridget Reilly)

“We were actually in P.Y. for writing tutoring and McCullough Hall for all other subject areas,” Ashley Hurst, director of TASP, said. “We feel this is the most student-centered move that we can make.”

Another new aspect of the renovation is an upstairs and downstairs section. The first-floor Learning Center is geared toward students seeking one-on-one sessions with content tutors. These sessions usually last around 45 minutes to an hour. The second-floor Homework Help Area is an open-tutoring setup where writing, math, and science tutors circulate for questions as students work. The time students are able to spend here is unlimited.

“We often had students come to the old centers requesting working spaces, not necessarily [wanting] one-to-one tutoring,” Hurst said, “So, we responded with the Homework Help Area.”

Scotland also had high praise for the Homework Help Area.

“Sometimes students understand the course material and concepts, but they may have some trouble with a particular question,” Scotland said. “This is the ideal setting to work on problems and solidify your skills.”

Tutoring center
Second floor tutoring hours. Sept. 15. (Bridget Reilly)

Just as is the case with the rest of the campus, students who attend tutoring sessions will still have to practice COVID-19 preventative measures.

“Tutors and tutees are both required to wear masks, and they have a plexiglass cough guard between them,” Hurst said regarding safety precautions. “We also have a contactless sign in options for students visiting our center, and we sanitize every tutoring area after each session and tutor shift.”

Amidst a pandemic, the transition was expected to be a difficult adjustment.

“For me, the transition has been smooth,” Nhamo said. “Unfortunately the COVID-19 situation was unexpected, and the transition almost seemed impractical to carry out, but that hurdle was overcome by observing safety precautions that afford us to interact with our tutors face to face.”

After moving courses online, TASP noticed a decline in students utilizing their online services.

“Now that we are back on campus and social distancing, our numbers are actually higher than what they were in previous semesters,” Hurst said. “We certainly attribute this to the new location, but I also just think we have motivated Mustangs who are trying to get ahead!”

TASP has also transferred some of their services online to assist students who were fully online or unable to return to campus. One of these ways is through an online platform called Tutor Matching Service. Tutors create profiles, and students can book online appointments to meet tutors in online classrooms. While Tutor Matching Service is still available, TASP has recently launched a new online program through D2L for all Distance Education students.

Tutoring Center
Accounting and management information systems junior Yohann Isaac is a tutor for his two majors. Sept. 15. (Bridget Reilly)

We’re excited to offer [students] an opportunity for more around-the-clock tutoring instead of being bound to our more residential-student friendly hours,” Hurst said. 

TASP’s goal is to make tutoring and finding help as convenient as possible for students. 

I hope students know that everything we do is for them,” Hurst said. “Every person on our staff, whether full-time or student tutor, is ready to help!”

More information about TASP and its services can be found on their webpage on the MSU Texas website.