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Structured Learning Assistance (or SLA) is a form of tutoring in which the leader (or tutor) attends class with students and then leads mandatory review sessions before or after class. During these sessions, students can collaboratively do homework, review notes, discuss readings, ask questions, develop study skills, and prepare for exams. The classes with SLA tutoring are typically courses in which many students struggle, such as introductory Math.
SLA leaders are college students or graduates who have excelled in college and have previous experience either in tutoring or in classroom management, such as that gained by being a Teachers Assistant. They attend class lectures with their tutees, so they know exactly what is being taught, and offer regularly scheduled review sessions before or after class.
The primary function of the leader (tutor) is to integrate how to learn with what to learn and to facilitate discussion among participants. Collaborative learning strategies are used to create an active-learning environment for students. Sessions provide an opportunity for students to complete homework assignments using preferred methods, discuss important concepts, develop strategies for studying, and prepare for tests collaboratively. Leaders are a valuable help in breaking down and simplifying complex information presented in class. During tutoring sessions, the leaders:
Students save money in tuition as they no longer have to pay for introductory or remedial courses that do not apply to their degrees, such as MATGEN-109 (general math). Students with academic weaknesses can work on their deficiencies (in tutoring sessions) at the same time they complete core course requirements (in class and by doing homework). Students come to understand course material better and are more likely to succeed in school because they get to work with an SLA leader (tutor) in groups and individually, as needed.
You can help support your leader by meeting regularly to discuss what will be taught in class and by requiring students to attend SLA sessions following the same attendance policy you enforce for your class. Please keep in mind that SLA leaders are not teaching assistants; they are tutors assigned to your class. They cannot introduce new material to students or proctor exams. They are in place simply to reinforce what you taught in class and to remediate any learning deficiencies you may identify among your students.
The SLA leader receives 12 hours of training prior to each academic term. In‐service training and coaching continues throughout the semester. Leaders are encouraged to earn their nationally-recognized MATC College Reading & Learning Association certifications through this training.
The SLA program is supervised by trained professional Educational Assistants and the Manager of Tutoring Services and Academic Support. Supervisors periodically attend SLA sessions throughout the semester and provide helpful feedback to the leaders. The Educational Assistant also acts as a liaison between the leader and the instructor to answer any questions regarding involvement with the program.