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McGraw Center launches Saturday study halls

The McGraw Center for Teaching and Learning began holding study halls on Saturdays for the first time last week. McGraw study halls were previously held Sunday through Wednesday from 7:30 p.m. to 10:30 pm.

While McGraw sessions that take place Sunday through Wednesday currently offer aid for 16 classes, the new Saturday sessions, which will be held from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., only offer help for four of these 16 classes, Voge said.These four classes are ECO 100: Introduction to Microeconomic, ECO 101: Introduction to Macroeconomics, ECO 202: Statistics and Data Analysis for Economics and MOL 214: Intro to Cellular & Molecular Biology.

Associate Director Nic Voge said there are many limitations on other days of the week, like overcrowding and not having enough tutors, making an additional study hall beneficial. He added that McGraw had had an unprecedented 3800 visits in the fall.

“We have some limitations with staff and space in Frist [Campus Center], so there’s a limited number of rooms … that we can get a hold of,” Voge said. He explained McGraw hopes both to diminish its demand during the week and to extend its tutor pool to tutors who might not have been able to come in during the week.

Politics major Chris McConnell ’14, who tutors for economics classes at the McGraw Center, said he thinks the additional session is needed.

“Right now we’re only offering three econ classes and MOL, but for this semester, [the additional sessions] are definitely necessary,” McConnell said, noting that since problem sets for ECO 100 and ECO 202 are due on Monday, McGraw currently sees a huge influx of students on Sunday. “The hope is that on Saturdays we’ll see a little bit more try to come and do their problem sets.”

Voge explained McGraw had previously thought about adding additional study halls, and it was input from the students and tutors which ultimately precipitated the development of the Saturday McGraw session.

“We did sort of an experiment last term in which we moved spaces [of study hall sessions], and we also collected input from students and from tutors,” Voge said. “And both a small set of tutors mentioned [an additional study hall] and a few students did as well.”

Voge noted that the addition of a Saturday session was discussed in questionnaires that some McGraw student patrons filled out as well as focus groups that 90 percent of tutors had attended.

The new Saturday sessions have also gotten support from faculty and professors, Voge noted. Voge said professors of MOL 214, which did not have a study hall session before this semester, thought the Saturday sessions would be helpful for students in their classes since the study hall would be later in the week.

Voge said, in addition to collaborating with faculty, McGraw worked with other University offices to make Saturday afternoon study halls a reality.

“McGraw doesn’t make these decisions unilaterally,” Voge said. “We always have to make sure the faculty is on board, and then McGraw works with the Office of the Dean of the College, and we collaborate really closely with the residential colleges.”

McConnell noted that the tutors were asked beforehand whether they would be available if Saturday sessions were to be implemented, and he found that the afternoon hours worked well for him.

Voge said that finding space in Frist, financing, advertising and tutor staffing were some of the challenges McGraw faced in implementing the Saturday sessions. He noted that staffing tutors for Saturdays was especially difficult because of the continuously changing schedules of students who may want to tutor.

“Because there are fewer courses and fewer tutors on Saturdays, that also means there are fewer backups,” Voge said.

Voge said when the plan for the Saturday session was first announced, there was a question raised by the tutors over whether students would come on Saturdays. However, Voge said, the administrators at McGraw all agreed the new study halls were worth trying out.

Voge noted that the first and only McGraw Saturday session was lightly attended but added that he hopes more students will attend as awareness of the new development increases.

Like Voge, McConnell said there were not many people in attendance at this past Saturday session at McGraw. However, he also noted he was able to spend more time with students who needed help and many of them seemed happy that there was not a crowd.

Destiny Crockett ’17, who is taking ECO 100 and attended the study hall last Saturday, said she would like the new sessions to continue.

“I think it was really helpful. It was better than the normal Sunday to Wednesday McGraw sessions, only because there were a lot less people and more tutors, so there were more tutors per person.” Crockett said. “I wasn’t just sitting there waiting.”

Voge said as of now the McGraw Saturday sessions are experimental, and there are no commitments to continue them past this semester. He added that the turnout of students on Saturdays is not the only factor McGraw will consider when making the decision, noting space and rooms are another consideration.

“One of the things we’re trying to do is give students more options,” he said. “If we have more tutors and more spaces on Sunday through Wednesday, then we’ll probably just go with that, but we don’t know that yet.”

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