OCED offers various types of academic assistance:
- Basic study skills (e.g., increasing memory skills and improving reading skills) to make studying more efficient and effective
- Time management and organization training
- Special learning techniques dependent upon course content
- Identifying one's learning style: The more one is aware of his/her unique learning style, the more control one has over individual academic performance and goals.
- Test-taking strategies (including reviewing past and preparing for future quizzes and standardized tests
- Writing skills (e.g., planning, drafting, editing, proofreading, using style guides)
Students interested in receiving help in any of these areas should contact Dr. Carol Capello, Associate Director of OCED. Dr. Capello has many years of experience helping all levels of students with learning strategies, as well as teaching writing, reading, and study skills. Students typically spend one or more hours with Dr. Capello and can request follow-up sessions, dependent upon need and availability. In addition, students having academic difficulty may request a "content expert" tutor (typically a fourth-year or MD/PhD student). Academic counseling and tutoring are provided at no cost to students. Participation is confidential. Students who have a specific learning difficulty may be referred to a licensed psychologist or other testing specialist.
WCM Academic Counseling and Tutoring Policy (established July 2016)
Dr. Carol Capello
Introduction and Rationale
Some incoming students have difficulty adjusting to the academic demands of medical school. Students may be struggling for a number of reasons: limited or no prior knowledge of the course material; a non-science undergraduate major with minimal preparation in the basic sciences; difficulty understanding how knowledge is structured in a particular subject area; difficulty identifying relationships between major concepts; sense of being lost in the details; having problems imposing meaningful organization of the material; test anxiety; poor test-taking strategies; time demands, especially during clinical service; or simply inadequate study skills.
When students find themselves in academic difficulty, it is suggested that they first contact course faculty and/or the Associate Deans for Academic Affairs and Student Affairs for specific advice. In addition, various types of academic assistance are available (including peer tutoring) through the Office of Academic Assistance (OAA).
This policy outlines the criteria and processes for academic counseling and tutoring services available to students who are struggling academically at any stage of their training at WCMC.
Identifying and Referring Students in Academic Difficulty
A student may self-identify him/herself as being in "academic difficulty" and make a self-referral to the OAA. In addition, the following individuals may identify and refer students: course leadership, members of the Promotion and Graduation (P&G) Committee, the Dean of Academic Affairs, and the Dean of Student Affairs.
Criteria for referral by these individuals may include the following: students with course averages more than 1.5 standard deviation below the class mean in a foundational course; remediation of a unit in a foundational course; students whose performance during the foundational courses causes concern regarding performance on upcoming shelf exams; failure of a USMLE exam; or a marginal grade in a clerkship due to failure of a shelf exam or poor clinical skills.
Once a referral is made, the OAA Director will schedule an initial appointment with an identified student to assess his/her needs and may provide some basic study, test-taking, and time-management strategies, as appropriate. A student may then request additional appointments with the OAA Director to strengthen those skills.
After that intake session, should the OAA Director determine that a content tutor might be of further help, the student will be matched for several sessions with an appropriate tutor. Students remediating a specific unit or shelf exam are limited to tutoring sessions just during the remediation time period.
Students who have self-referred must also meet one of the other criteria listed in the previous section in order to be assigned a tutor.
Students identified as having difficulty with clinical skills (e.g., communicating with patients, writing notes and case logs) may also be assigned a tutor. Students may also be referred to the Clinical Skills Center for additional help.
Students who are offered the opportunity to work with a content tutor are under no obligation to do so, but should inform the OAA Director of their decision to decline tutoring in writing.
Students who are identified as possibly having learning disabilities or other special needs will be referred to the Office of Student Affairs for further evaluation.
Responsibilities of the Tutored Student
If a student with academic difficulties does accept a tutor, he/she must adhere to the following:
The tutored student is responsible for contacting the assigned tutor via email (with a copy to the OAA Director) to set up the initial tutoring session.
The tutored student should identify the specific content areas and skills on which he/she would like to focus and explain that to the tutor during the initial session. The OAA Director can also assist the student in assessing those needs during the intake session.
Students are expected to show a commitment to the learning process by coming prepared to each tutoring session (e.g., bringing any assignments, questions, or materials agreed upon by the tutor and tutee).
If students anticipate arriving late for a tutoring session or need to cancel/reschedule, they must contact the tutor as soon as possible.
Students are under no obligation to continue tutoring or to continue with the same tutor. Students who find the tutoring session(s) not helpful and wish to discontinue tutoring or be matched with another tutor should contact the OAA Director.
At the end of the tutoring block, tutored students are required to complete a brief survey about the tutoring experience.
Responsibilities of the Tutor
Tutors are more senior students, not in the same class as the students they tutor. Tutors typically are in high academic standing, have a strong interest in teaching, and have good study habits and time-management skills.
If tutors anticipate arriving late for a tutoring session or need to cancel/reschedule, they are expected to contact their tutee as soon as possible.
Tutors are expected to contact the OAA Director with any concerns that may arise regarding the tutored student’s progress/behavior.
At the end of a tutoring block, tutors are required to complete (1) a form summarizing the sessions (e.g., content areas, teaching materials) and the student’s overall progress; and (2) a tutoring log of content hours signed by the tutor and tutored student.
Outcome Measurements and Need for Additional Tutoring
After a predetermined number of tutoring sessions, the OAA Director will review the student’s progress to determine if further tutoring is recommended and, if so, whether the same tutor should (or can) continue with the tutored student. The progress review will focus on (1) the tutored student’s self-assessment of tutoring results (e.g., strengthening time-management skills; confidence in material), as well as quality of the tutoring); (2) the tutor’s assessment; and (3) input from the course/clerkship leadership or test scores, if available.
Confidentiality and Academic Standing
Tutors are expected not to share any information about whom they tutor or the content of the tutoring sessions with anyone other the Director of OAA. Tutors may reach out to course leadership for advice on specific content areas on which to focus but without reference to the specific student being tutored.
The Director of OAA has no influence on or role in the formal assessment of student performance or promotion decisions.
Tutoring sessions or any other contact with the OAA are not recorded on the student’s transcript.