There are so many ways of getting help to students. We speak of many options in the learning center world: tutoring, embedded tutoring, writing facilitation, supplemental instruction, and academic navigators or coaches. There are probably even more models of instructional support. It can be useful to know how these models address different needs and institutions.

Tutoring is familiar to many. A tutor works one-on-one with a student or with a small group. Tutors address academic deficits and help students build skills they learn in class. A student might need tutoring for remedial purposes or possibly just to enhance what they know.

Embedded tutoring gives the tutor more knowledge of a particular class or teacher by inserting the tutor into the class and making that tutor available to all the students. My embedded tutoring program gives tutors full access to the learning management system (LMS) so that tutors can see assignments, and discussion posts, and academic progress.

Supplemental Instruction (SI) is a more formal model providing group study and collaboration. SI usually targets challenging courses, and the supplemental instructor offers instruction on how to learn as well as helping with course material.

Writing facilitators are usually students — often graduate students. Writing facilitators are much more involved with the writing piece of a class, providing discussion board feedback, discussing drafts, helping with revision, etc. The facilitator must work closely with the instructor as they are offering feedback that the teacher usually gives.

Academic navigators or coaches are a hybrid of traditional advising and tutoring. A navigator may be able to answer questions about course sequences as well as the content of the courses.

Every institution must decide what will work for their circumstance given the student population, the length of the terms, the availability of peers, and more. A large institution might offer all of the options. A small school without a large contingent of available advanced students may find that traditional tutoring or embedded tutoring is easier to manage than SI or academic coaching.

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