- offered at no cost to students
- attended by more than 65% of all freshmen
- used on a regular basis by Curators, Brooks, and Bright Flight scholars.
Our goal is to provide instruction that deepens and enriches students' understanding of the classes in which they enroll. Through peer and professional instruction, we influence students' satisfaction with their educational and interpersonal experiences at MU. Just as faculty members need colleagues to review their papers or research findings, students need tutors, teachers, and peers to review, analyze, and assist them with papers they write and the academic problems they encounter. Our mission, therefore, is to enhance students' academic performance, deepen their satisfaction with their academic experiences, and increase the retention and graduation rates of students who participate in our sessions.
The Learning Center is an academic assistance unit that helps students in many of the general education courses required of freshmen and sophomores at Mizzou. During a typical academic year, approximately 65-70% of MU freshmen and 35 to 40 percent of all undergraduates participate in one or more Learning Center activities. We provide out-of-classroom instruction for approximately 30 undergraduate classes required of students from across majors. We offer face-to-face and electronic writing assistance for any writing assignment, including writing intensive classes. In addition to addressing content issues, writing assistants help students learn advanced writing technologies, including electronic mail, Internet information resources, and word processing. The lab provides online writing assistance, which makes services and resources available to students from their homes and from public computing sites. We also offer math instruction in most of the lower-level math classes and offer test reviews in conjunction with testing dates established by the department. We co-sponsor with the College of Education the First Year Experience course, which helps students make smooth transitions into their college experience. Math and writing tutoring are offered both in centrally scheduled classrooms, where the bulk of Learning Center offerings occur, and in selected residence halls. Students eligible for the Student Support Services grant may receive individual tutoring for courses where group instruction is not available and for courses where effective tutors can be found and hired.
By providing high quality instruction taught by dedicated, caring and competent teachers, the Learning Center makes a noteworthy contribution to the campus--one of fostering a caring learning environment for undergraduates. Students come to know their instructors and tutors as people who take the time to help them develop skills essential to academic success.
Retention Rates, Satisfaction Rates
For first-time freshmen enrolled fall semester, 2000, the retention rate until Fall 2001 for those who participated in the Learning Center sessions (N=2709) was 86% compared to 77% for students who did not (N=1321). For sophomore participants (N=1602), the rate was 88% compared to 82% for non-participants (N=2397).
Satisfaction ratings from the 626 students who completed evaluation surveys in 1997 revealed that 74% were very satisfied, the highest rating possible on the 5-point scale provided. The overall satisfaction rating was 4.67. Comparative graduation data for students who participated in Learning Center sessions at any point in their undergraduate careers are currently being compiled.
The Learning Center was founded in 1976 when the campus received a $140,000 federal "Special Services for Disadvantaged Students" grant from the Department of Education. Its purpose was to provide educational assistance that would increase the retention and graduation rates of low-income, educationally disadvantaged students. Personal and financial counseling, academic advising, and educational assistance in the form of individual tutoring were offered to 108 eligible students that first year. Initially, the program reported jointly to Student Affairs and Academic Affairs, but, in 1979, it was moved to Academic Affairs, and MU made its first allocation of general operating funds to the Learning Center. These limited general operating funds allow for the writing lab and the open tutoring sessions to serve all MU students. The grant funds continue to provide additional service for Student Support Services eligible students each year. The Learning Center currently reports to the Office of the Provost.