Systems thinking is one of the tools Pima Community College must master if it is to truly focus on students. The many parts of our dynamic organization need to mesh seamlessly to deliver the most effective learning experience. For many students, our prowess at systems thinking manifests itself most clearly in how our classrooms and tutoring centers connect and coordinate with each other.
PCC offers tutoring at five of our campuses, and our tutors help to hundreds of students each day of the school year. Our campus presidents and I recently met with a few dozen tutors at a pre-semester workshop led by Penny Turrentine, director of the West Campus Learning Center, to gather the tutors’ front-line perspectives.
I can attest to the importance of academic support services such as tutoring. As an undergrad at The Evergreen State College, the “SQ3R” (Survey, Question, Read, Recite and Review) method of improving reading comprehension and critical thinking made a real difference in my studies.
Learning is a complex process, but given that so much knowledge comes from outside the classroom, it’s clear that integrating teaching and tutoring is in the best interest of our students. Everyone who impacts student learning can play complementary roles in creating a culture of continuous assessment. Tutors can identify gaps in student learning, build interdisciplinary study skills and help students take advantage of new technological tools such as enhanced online tutoring or the Khan Academy’s library of interactive online tools.
Increasing the quality and quantity of interactions between instructors and tutors is important. Tutors can benefit from the insights of faculty advisory boards that work with campus leadership. Having tutors attend classes as part of their work hours would enhance their skills and break down barriers.
PCC students can take many pathways to success, and some of these paths run through our Learning Centers and Tutoring Centers. Our staff, faculty and administrators know what works when it comes to creating a deeper, end-to-end learning experience for our students. Our task is to take promising practices and embed them into the College’s operating system, so that our students may benefit.