Challenge
How might we help students feel welcome in a college tutoring center? 
Solution
Service experience entitled "Empathy Seeking."
Fresno State has a tutoring program with a staff of 50 college peer tutors who help their fellow classmates who are taking classes they successfully completed. There is a great divide in visit frequency with those students who attend almost everyday logging over 14 visits per semester, those who only attend once or twice per semester, and those who do not attend at all. We sought out to understand why students who came in did and why students who did not show up stayed away.

During our ethnography we discovered the primary reason students came in had little to do with outreach, marketing, or instructor referral. It had more to do with a connection they had with a tutor or student who worked in the Learning Center.

Relationships were the most important predictor for attendance. During ideation and prototyping we explored what makes people feel like they are among friends and we developed a new tutoring strategy for the program called "Empathy Seeking." Rather than students coming in and tutors asking what problem they need help on they would ask them how they were feeling about the class and what those feelings meant. Rather than going to a classroom to do a pitch to say come see me I passed the class and I am great they would go and ask students how they were currently feeling about material and connect with those feelings.

The deliverables were a tutor training workbook, online training, observation rubric, and project based learning training experience. Since the inception of this strategy the tutoring program has experienced growth in not only attendance but in the number of students who attend 14 or more times in a semester.
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