Support specialist emphasizes room for improvement

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Dental assisting sophomores Lynn Thi Huynh and Duyen Nguyen help each other write research papers in the SLAC lab on the seventh floor of Moody.  Marina Garcia

Dental assisting sophomores Lynn Thi Huynh and Duyen Nguyen help each other write research papers in the SLAC lab on the seventh floor of Moody. Marina Garcia

SLAC lab offers tutors, computers and test proctoring.

By Justin Rodriguez

sac-ranger@alamo.edu

The newly remodeled student learning assistance center on the seventh floor of Moody Learning Center needs more tutors and longer tutoring sessions, say students and some workers there.

Known as the SLAC lab, it provides computers, tutoring and testing services.

The SLAC lab has about 200 computers, and 69 computers are in an open area available for students on a walk-in basis.

Student success specialist Lisa Bermes said there is a shortage of tutors available for subjects such as psychology, math, chemistry, government, accounting and history.

There are seven tutors in the lab, but distance-learning specialist Gerald Manahan says an eighth is starting next week.

The number of tutors available ranged from 24-30, but over the past four or five years, the total has twice been cut in half. No positions are open for tutors, he said.

Bermes said there is a large array of subjects to cover, tutors are limited and sessions are not as long as they should be.

“We need more time,” she said.

Tutoring sessions in the SLAC lab are 30 minutes for most students and one hour for students registered with disability support services.

“Students don’t have to make an appointment, but it is recommended because the tutors could all be booked,” Manahan said.

Kinesiology sophomore Dean Nwokey said he frequents the lab to do homework and check email.

“It’s a lot about being in class,” Nwokey said.

Nwokey said he previously visited math labs in McCreless and could walk in with no appointment and “never had to worry about not having enough time.”

Nwokey said he doubts 30 minutes is long enough, recommending at least three sessions.

Teachers stress tutoring and getting help toward midterms and the end of the semester, especially in the science classes, Nwokey added.

Marketing sophomore Olga Balderas believes some of the labs may be overbooked, and, therefore, cannot accommodate students in the best way possible.

Balderas said she came to the SLAC lab because she did not get enough help in the English writing lab in Room 118 of Gonzales Hall on the topic she was writing about.

“We all need help,” Balderas said.

Hiring extra tutors during midterms or finals is another idea Balderas suggested.

In addition to hiring more tutors, Balderas stressed, “The teachers should be willing to help the students.”

Balderas has considered hiring an outside tutor to meet her schedule and homework requirements.

Bermes noted that while students must have an appointment, the sessions are not long enough to adequately receive tutoring and tips in the lab.

She said a lot of services are getting left out.

Tutors are generally required to have A’s and B’s to be qualified in subjects they can tutor, Bermes said.

Students who want to become tutors can go online and apply through the district’s PeopleLink program.

Manahan says that most tutors are students who have finished classes at this college and have transferred to other colleges or universities.

Tutors are paid for a 19-hour week.

Recently, the lab has hired four new work-stud students to help with the front desk, answering questions and proctoring tests.

Manahan says they are still waiting on a couple of them to be cleared to start work.

“Services here benefit every student, whether they have a 2.0 or a 4.0 GPA,” Bermes said.

Test proctoring services are available 8:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m. Monday- Thursday, 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Saturday.

Computer services at the SLAC lab are offered 8 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Friday and 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday.

For more information, call the SLAC lab at 210-486-0165.

Michael Peters contributed to this story.

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