Resolution 16.01 in Fall 2019 called for publishing resources for learning assistance with a focus on the role of tutoring and learning center faculty.
Whereas, The field of learning assistance has evolved since the last Academic Senate resolutions in 2008 (10.01 F08) and 2011 (10.12 S11) that addressed minimum qualifications and a 2011 article about separating learning assistance and tutoring;
Whereas, The minimum qualifications for learning skills coordinators or instructors specify only qualifications for faculty in tutoring or learning assistance offerings collecting apportionment, and any learning assistance and tutoring center constitutes a space comparable to a classroom or library and should be overseen, at least in partnership with staff or administration, by qualified faculty whether or not it is collecting apportionment;
Whereas, A great need has been created in the current context of AB 705 (Irwin, 2017), guided pathways, equity, and culturally responsive teaching for understanding of learning assistance as a field and how it fits into the context of the California community colleges not in a secondary role but in a symbiotic partnership for student learning and as a site like the classroom and library for student learning; and
Whereas, “Specific standards for” learning assistance and tutoring “have appeared piecemeal as Education Code sections, accreditation guidelines, professional guidelines, and ethics statements, but nowhere have these standards been collected, reviewed, and presented systematically to the California community colleges with specific application to the roles of” learning skills coordinators or instructors, and tutoring coordinators “in the California community colleges”;
Resolved, That the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges develop a standards of practice resource, such as a paper, web resource, or guidebook, for learning assistance and tutoring in the California Community Colleges, including the role of learning skills coordinators or instructors and tutoring coordinators by July 30, 2021.
In response to this resolution, the primary purpose of this paper is to emphasize and reiterate the centrality of the faculty role in tutoring and learning centers, where peer-to-peer, discipline-specific collaborative learning is the primary objective.
This paper provides a breadth of content for practitioners in the field and also assists those seeking to understand the unique role of the tutoring and learning center and the faculty that develop and lead these services. This document does the following:
- Recognizes the disciplinary and pedagogical contexts for the role of faculty in tutoring and learning centers;
- Identifies tutoring and learning centers as essential spaces for academic learning directly related to courses and disciplines; and
- Describes how innovations in research and practice in tutoring and learning assistance impact the role of faculty in these pedagogically-designed learning spaces.
Tutoring and learning center faculty create a tutoring and learning philosophy and concrete strategies for learning on a college campus. In this context, these faculty facilitate peer learning every day and develop tutor training materials. They provide an equity focus and culturally appropriate tools for peer learning in an increasingly diverse environment and for students with a wide range of prior educational knowledge and experiences. They observe and assess the implementation and success of specific tutoring strategies and skills for learning in various disciplines. They are also responsible for ensuring that strategies are equity-focused and meet the student-centered philosophy of the tutoring and learning center and for refining practices in new contexts that do not meet the standards.
Faculty pedagogical roles in the tutoring and learning center are based on the institutional recognition that learning outside the classroom through student-centered peer interaction is closely related to teaching in the classroom. Therefore, tutoring and learning centers are instructional spaces where a faculty member provides pedagogical strategies, ongoing programmatic assessment, overall supervision and coordination, and tutor training. Faculty in the tutoring and learning center are essential in the same way that teaching faculty are to the classroom and librarians are to the library. Learning assistance is an instructional activity; faculty are therefore not optional. Tutoring and learning center faculty positions have grown exponentially in the last ten years, as has the influence of academic support for the campus community. Faculty in these spaces are essential to the learning that occurs inside and outside the classroom.
Tutoring and learning centers on California community college campuses are intentionally designed as social and supportive learning spaces for students and are staffed and programmed for optimal collaborative learning. These spaces and services demonstrate a longstanding commitment to student learning and student success for an increasingly diverse group of students. An organic student learning community forms in these centers based on well-established effective practices in tutoring and learning theory that enable students to achieve confidence and competence in their own learning. Tutoring and learning centers provide equity-based interventions that empower students and restore the promise of higher education at community colleges. These centers also function as intentional spaces of collaboration between departments and programs and among tutoring and learning center faculty and teaching faculty with the goal of extending the classroom and improving student learning.
The Academic Senate for California Community Colleges asserts that faculty, preferably full-time, tenure-track faculty, should oversee tutoring and learning centers. The tutoring and learning center is a crucial instructional space on campus that should be supervised and led by faculty.
The Academic Senate for California Community Colleges recommends that the California Community Colleges Board of Governors do the following:
- Update the learning assistance or learning skills coordinators or instructors, and tutoring coordinators discipline in the Minimum Qualifications for Faculty and Administrators in the California Community Colleges and Title 5 §53415 to remove the note currently creating separate standards for faculty qualification and leadership of tutoring and learning centers based on intent to claim apportionment, which is currently phrased as follows: “NOTE: Minimum qualifications do not apply to tutoring or learning assistance for which no apportionment is claimed.”
- Update the learning assistance or learning skills coordinators or instructors, and tutoring coordinators discipline in the Minimum Qualifications for Faculty and Administrators in the California Community Colleges and Title 5 §53415 to remove the term “learning skills” from the discipline.
- Explore and implement as appropriate Title 5 changes that establish minimum faculty-to-student ratios for tutoring and learning centers and other instructional and student support faculty, using librarian and library staff requirements in Title 5 §58724 as an example.
- Align statewide coordination and oversight of tutoring and learning centers with other instructional programs and instructional support programs within the Educational Services and Support division of California community colleges.
The Academic Senate for California Community Colleges recommends that local academic senates do the following:
- Advocate during the ACCJC 2024 Standards development and vetting process for a separation of tutoring and learning assistance from library services.
- Encourage tutoring and learning center faculty to be active in local accreditation processes.
- Advocate for grouping academic support—inclusive of library, tutoring and learning center, supplemental instruction, learning skills, student success, early alert, and other related programs—under one dean in college organizational structures to forge an identity and collaboration, to present unified support for students, and to leverage resources for learning supports.
The Academic Senate for California Community Colleges recommends that individual districts, colleges, and campuses as well as the California Community Colleges system at large do the following:
- Ensure dedicated, full-time, tenure track faculty members serve in primary leadership, whether as directors or coordinators, instructional, or training roles, in tutoring and learning centers on California community college campuses.
- Develop and sustain flexible, contemporary, and inclusive physical and virtual learning center spaces that provide effective access to tutoring and learning assistance services, resources, and instruction.
- Provide consistent funding to ensure tutoring and learning center faculty regularly engage with professional development opportunities provided by the organizations setting the standards for tutoring and learning assistance.
- Provide support for faculty to meet the program standards for tutor training, tutoring, and online tutoring established by CRLA, ACTLA, and other professional organizations.