“We’re striving to create the very best 21st Century learning environment possible,” said Michelle Montoya, Coordinator of the Tutoring and Learning Center at Truckee Meadows Community College.
A forward-looking model of learning and researching that engages students includes many types of resources integrated together, she said. These resources include books, e-books, computer databases, individual tutoring, group-based peer tutoring and tools for organization. The learning commons model is all about students becoming information literate and fluent about where to find answers for any question.
For Fall Semester 2016, TMCC’s Tutoring and Learning Center starts phase one of a larger transition to being co-located with the Elizabeth Sturm Library. The goal is to become a learning commons hub.
“We’re looking towards an open collaborative space for students,” she said. “It is more centrally located and welcoming. We’ve already staged satellite outreach in the library for several years, and it’s a natural evolution to becoming a learning commons.”
Phase one includes the following:
- Check-in to the immediate right of the Library’s front doors
- One-to-one peer tutoring on first floor of Library, 10-15 tutors at any given time
- Group tutoring available in group study rooms
- Quiet reading area near the fountain
- Making appointments and other online processes continuing
- Supplemental instruction groups to remain housed in Vista Building, room B106
- Computer lab remains in Vista B106
Library staff members are enthusiastic about the move.
“We’re excited for the TLC to move more tutors into the Library,” said John Fitzsimmons, Reference Librarian. “There will be space right inside the front door for one-on-one sessions as well as some other areas in the building. We are moving reference books and making other adjustments.”
Montoya credits administrative officials for their support.
“President Hilgersom and Vice President Buchanan have been totally supportive,” she said. “It wouldn’t have happened without them leading the project, moving it forward. It’s a shared vision.”
“We thank the Academic, Facilities, IT, Library Services and Tutoring Services Departments for their work this summer,” said Barbara Buchanan, PhD, Vice President of Academic Affairs, VPAA. “These departments collaborated to integrate student support services such as one-on-one tutoring, supplemental instruction and information literacy services.”
“I’d like to send a big ‘thank you’ to Facilities Services and IT—they’re making this move happen,” she said.
Nevada State College (NSC) has already moved to a shared learning space, or learning commons model, Montoya added.
A group of administrators, faculty and staff members traveled to leading academic libraries in the region which demonstrate a learning commons model:
- Barbara Buchanan, PhD, VPAA
- Lance Bowen, PhD, Dean of Sciences
- Jill Channing, PhD, Dean of Liberal Arts
- Marie Murgolo-Poore, PhD, Dean of Business
- John Fitzsimmons, Reference Librarian
- Neil Siegel, Resource Librarian
- Michelle Montoya, TLC Coordinator
The committee examined best practices for student-centered learning environments already in place at the following locations:
- Western Nevada College, Carson City
- Western Nevada College, Fallon campus
- William N. Pennington Health Science Center, collaborative campus of TMCC and the University of Nevada, Reno
Flashback to 1990s
The TLC has been located in the Vista Building since its inception.
“It’s a historic move,” Montoya said. “The TLC has been in Vista for more than 20 years, predating the Sierra Building. It made a lot of sense at the time because most of the English and math classes were taught in Vista.”
She adds that since 1996, learning environments have progressed, especially with the onset of the internet and other electronic technologies.
“Now, students will be able to brush up on their writing skills with a peer writing tutor and walk over to a research librarian for direction to databases and other research resources,” Montoya said.
The TLC offers a type of learning “to go” service called Supplemental Instruction (SI). Tutors are available to guide group sessions where students can compare notes, study for tests and discuss class readings together. They also offer methods for organizing tasks, thus helping busy college students.
“Everyone—faculty, staff and students—are excited and enthusiastic to collaborate, and we will all grow through this in every way,” Montoya said.
For more information about tutoring, please contact Michelle Montoya at 775-673-7276.