Learning Commons

Overview of Tutoring at USM

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Overview of Tutoring at USM

Through partnerships with academic departments at USM, we are able to offer tutoring in multiple subject areas at the Learning Commons. We are a peer support service, meaning that all of our tutors are current USM students who have completed a nationally-accredited tutor training program.

Tutoring is NOT just for students who are struggling, but also for those who want to excel academically. Many of the students who come for tutoring are USM’s best students, since they know it will help them stay on top!

As a USM student, you are allowed two appointments per week per subject area. For example, you can schedule two writing appointments as well as two math appointments. There are also some drop-in groups, which do not count towards the two appointments in that subject. Appointments are available in Gorham, Portland, LAC, and online.

Please feel free to drop by The Learning Commons in Portland or Gorham, or the Writing Center at Lewiston-Auburn College. If there is a tutor available, he or she will be happy to work with you. It is always best, though, to plan ahead and schedule an appointment in advance. This is especially true toward the end of the semester.

What Tutoring IS

  • Engaging in academic “time on task”
  • Developing effective learning strategies
  • Discussing topics actively
  • Building confidence as a learner

What Tutoring IS NOT

  • Completing homework assignments
  • Submitting a paper for editing
  • Attending without participating
  • Replacing class time

Preparing for Your Tutoring Appointment

  1. Put some work into the subject/task beforehand.
  2. Bring your questions and ideas regarding the concept or assignment, along with the original assignment.
  3. Bring all the materials you’ve been using so far in the course (handouts, notes, textbook, syllabus).
  4. Review our policies and expectations. To view the guidelines, please click HERE.

Group Tutoring

Collaborative learning provides an opportunity to "self-test" one's understanding of a concept. One of the best ways to structure this practice is via group tutoring. This combines the benefits of STUDYING IN GROUPS with the supportive guidance of a tutor being part of the process. Some of the tutors elect to work with more than one student during any of their tutoring appointments. When you visit our online scheduling system to make an appointment, you can see below a tutor's name if he or she allows a group (for example, "Allows 3 member groups"). If a student has already reserved one of the tutoring slots for the group, it will indicate this when you hover over the appointment time, and it will ask if you would like to also have one of the group appointments still available. 

Meet with a Tutor Online

Zoom is an online meeting platform, much like Skype or Google Hangout. Every USM student now has a Zoom account, which can be accessed via the Launch Pad in the upper left-hand corner in the MyUSM portal.

Many of the tutoring appointments offered at The Learning Commons can be accessed live online. This means, as a USM student, you can work with your tutor from anywhere at the time of your appointment. Zoom will allow you and your tutor to: 

  • See each other via your device’s camera (for example, a computer or smartphone webcam)
  • Hear each other via your microphone
  • Share your screen while having your conversation
  • Write on a virtual whiteboard as part of your active practice
  • Save what was written on the whiteboard
  • Have the option to record the entire online session for later review (NOTE: this is the student’s choice)

Here is how to work with your tutor online:

  1. When scheduling the appointment, select “Yes - Schedule Online Appointment” from the drop-down menu instead of the default option of “No - Meet Face-To-Face at the Center”. (NOTE: if this option is not visible, it means that appointment is not available for online tutoring.) 
  2. A few minutes before your appointment, log back into this calendar system, open the appointment window, and click on the link labeled JOIN MY APPOINTMENT to start your online session.
  3. Upon arrival in the meeting, you may need to turn on your microphone and camera. (NOTE: we strongly recommend using both your microphone and camera during the session, as it will provide the best options for making the most of that tutoring appointment.)

To learn more about each of the Zoom functions, such as using the whiteboard, chat feature, or recording the session, please see below.