UW Tacoma tutors, tutees and teachers offer resources and advice for finals week. 

As final exams loom students need not brave the storm alone. The Teaching & Learning Center is here to give its virtual shelter to those needing a push through finals.

According to TLC Writing Consultant Renee Anne Marie Guzman, in addition to improving their learning skills, the TLC also helps students prepare for exams and/or final papers on nearly any subject they choose. More than this, the TLC also works to provide students with resources to help them learn outside of the classroom to make tutoring sessions more effective.

Students looking to use the TLC can start by surfing its website, where they create an account, start a 1-on-1 session with a tutor and have someone look over how they work.

Guzman explained that one of the differences between students who make average progress with Zoom consulting sessions compared to those who end up with great Zoom consulting sessions are those who make proper and consistent usage of the TLC resources outside of the traditional 1-on-1 sessions. 

“One of the biggest things to note is that although we are more than welcome to help on the TLC website for 1-on-1 Zoom sessions, we also have other services that can give quicker help or knowledge without having to file a session,” Guzman said. 

These other resources include a 24-hour live chat where students can rely on a staff member to answer any questions they may have while waiting for a tutor. Guzman also pointed to other web pages, such as a resource center for students confused with their writing. 

On their own, students can read handouts and guides on writing subjects, like grammar and citations. In turn, these sources allow for better time management of the following tutoring and consulting sessions. These guides and handouts are not limited to writing, the same sources can be found in quantitative subjects, such as formula sheets for math students. 

Essentially, if students want to save some time and more efficiently learn the subjects that are taught, they can look and read the resources online versus setting up an appointment  immediately.

“We’re pretty quick in giving responses and we have to be strategic about what feedback we give, given that we don’t have unlimited time,” Guzman said. “So, if they come in with a 15-page paper wanting to correct all the grammar mistakes with 30 minutes on the clock, we’re not going to be able to help them as much as we like. And they’re not going to get as much out of the session compared to if they read out resources about grammar, and come in with the parts they’re most confused about.”

“It can be kind of overwhelming for both the tutee and sometimes the tutor,” she said. “These are final things that we have to go through in detail, so it becomes repetitive.” 

To help the tutors help the tutees, coming in with a specific issue or question you have surrounding the work you’re doing helps maximize the 30 minutes you have. 

“Really use the resources,” Guzman said. “We have a lot of helpful things on the TLC website that are always prepared when you come into the Zoom. People think 30 minutes is a long time but always come in with a goal but we don’t want the students to feel overwhelmed.”

Student Paris Markley, a repeat visitor of the TLC, noted the benefits it provides during last minute studying. For her, simply being with others is a great way to focus on studying. She explained that even if tutoring sessions have gone virtual, it hasn’t affected her love for the TLC because it still helps her focus. 

“Before the library shut down, I would always study at the library whether I was with friends or not because just by being in that environment where there are people around studying, you can’t help but want to study too,” Markley said. “Even though the in-person feeling is gone, I would still think tutoring sessions to be helpful for anyone who has ADD or can’t study by themselves.”

Accounting Professor Dr. Zhiyan Cao is no stranger to final exams. Dr. Cao noted that throughout her time at UWT, she said she’s come to notice that students who do well on their final exams make the most of learning resources offered by their professors, peers, and the campus.

 “Don’t be afraid to reach out when you need help,” Cao said. “Students who do well on their final exams tend to pay close attention to expectations and resources shared by the professor during the last few weeks’ instruction.”

This makes it so that the process of studying for an exam becomes a more fluid and less stressful process. Cao said that those who pay attention to the resources shared by the professors also tend to focus on conceptual understanding of the material, instead of cramming their brains at the last minute which doesn’t encourage deeper learning or long-term memory. 

She noted that this helps them reflect on previous mistakes made on homework and previous tests. Thus, they are more resourceful when seeking help from their instructors and classmates.

With some final last words of advice, Cao encouraged students to be more meticulous in their planning to encourage further success and gave students different ways in which they can study.  

“Make a plan before starting your review,” Cao said. “Join a study group to push each other to understand better. Note cards could be helpful as the mere act of preparing them helps to solidify and visualize your understanding of a subject. Review workshops offered by the TLC could also be helpful.”

Students looking to learn get their journey started can surf to https://www.tacoma.uw.edu/teaching-learning-center/teaching-learning-center

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