Learning Assistance

Exceptional students are drawn to Rensselaer in part by our rigorous education standards.  ALAC offers many services to help you meet your academic goals effectively:

ALAC’s full range of learning assistance helps students start well, stay focused, and succeed in their academic adventure. Contact us at 518.276.6269 for more details about services.  We are here to help.

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Tutoring Services

Tutoring services cover course-specific material in interactive group sessions for many undergraduate core courses, with an emphasis on first-year and second-year classes in the schools of science and engineering.

Drop-in tutoring provides opportunities for undergraduates to review class material with graduate and undergraduate tutors proficient in the course topics.  The goal is to help students become independent learners by having tutors guide them through solving practice problems while demonstrating strategies for exploring a topic.  Their role is not to provide answers, but rather to help students understand questions and identify methods for solving them.

 

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*** TLA WORKSHOP ****
Wed. Oct. 18th  - 6 pm - 7:30  pm - - Sage 3101

By Andrew Showers and Salles VG de Magalhaes

Good Programming Practices

In this workshop we will present some basic guides for developing code with good style. The objective is to help CS-1 and Data Structures students to write code that is easier to maintain and to understand. We will present examples (in C++ and Python) of common style problems we have observed during homework grading and suggest ways to avoid these mistakes.

Topics:

  • Refactoring
  • Variable naming
  • Global, public and private variables
  • Avoiding redundant labeling
  • Avoiding duplicate code
  • Deep nesting
  • Writing code that is easier to read
  • Comments and documentation
  • Const and reference

 

 

 

 

    Drop-In Tutoring Schedule

    Drop-in tutoring sessions are offered for selected courses in the schools of science and engineering.  As shown below, some sessions are held in the ALAC Tutoring Center on the first floor of Folsom Library; other sessions meet in locations around campus.  Note that:

    • If you want help with a 1000-level or 2000-level course not listed on the tutoring schedule below, please contact the Advising & Learning Assistance Center.
    • Drop-in tutoring is suspended on any day that classes are not in session (such as holidays or snow days). 

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    FALL DROP IN TUTORING SCHEDULE -

     =======================================================

     

      Mon Tues Wed Thurs  
    CHEM 1100 - Chemistry I

    8 pm - 10 pm 

    CII 3039        
    CHEM 2250 - Organic Chem I

    7 pm – 9 pm

      RI 203   RI 203
    CSCI 1100 – Comp Sci I

    8 pm – 10 pm

    CII 4050 CII 4050   CII 4050
    CSCI 1100 – Comp Sci I

    8 pm – 10 pm – ROOM SHIFT

        DCC 324

    (Fully charged

    battery needed)

     
    CSCI 1200 – Data Structures

    8 pm – 10 pm

    CII 4050 CII 4050   CII 4050
    CSCI 1200 – Data Structures

    8 pm – 10 pm – ROOM SHIFT

        DCC 324

    (Fully charged

    battery needed)

     
    ENGR 1100 – IEA

    8 pm – 10 pm

    CII 3045 CII 3045 CII 3045 CII 3045
    ENGR 1200 - Engr. CAD

    8 pm – 10 pm

    CII 3045 CII 3045 CII 3045 CII 3045
    ENGR 1600 – Matl Sci

    8 pm – 10 pm

    CII 3045   CII 3045  
    ENGR 2090 - Engr. Dyn.

    8 pm - 10 pm 

     

    CII 3045 CII 3045 CII 3045  
    ENGR 2230 – Thermal & Fluids

    8 pm – 10 pm

    CII 3045 CII 3045 CII 3045 CII 3045
    ENGR 2350 – Embedded Control

    8 pm – 10 pm

    CII 3045   CII 3045  
    ENGR 2530 – Strength of Matls

    8 pm – 10 pm

    CII 3045 CII 3045 CII 3045 CII 3045
    MATH 1010 – Calc I

    7 pm – 9 pm

     Folsom Library

        1st. Fl.

      Folsom Library

        1st. Fl.

     Folsom Library

        1st. Fl.

     

     Folsom Library

        1st. Fl.

    .

    MATH 1020 – Calc II

    7 pm – 9 pm

     

     Folsom Library

        1st. Fl.

    .

     

     Folsom Library

        1st. Fl.

    .

     

     Folsom Library

        1st. Fl.

    .

     

    Folsom Library

        1st. Fl.

     

    MATH 2010 Multivar Calc

    7 pm – 9 pm

     

     Folsom Library

        1st. Fl.

     

     Folsom Library

        1st. Fl.

     

     Folsom Library

        1st. Fl.

     

     

    Folsom Library

        1st. Fl.

    .

    MATH 2400 – Intro Diff Eq.

    7 pm – 9 pm

     

     Folsom Library

        1st. Fl.

     

     Folsom Library

        1st. Fl.

     

     

    Folsom Library

        1st. Fl.

    .

     

     Folsom Library

        1st. Fl.

    PHYS 1100 – Physics I

    8 pm – 10 pm

    Sage 2715 Sage 2715 Sage 2715 Sage 2715
    PHYS 1200 – Physics II

    8 pm – 10 pm

    Sage 2715 Sage 2715 Sage 2715 Sage 2715
    PHYS 1050 – Physics Honors

    8 pm – 10 pm

    Sage 2715 Sage 2715 Sage 2715 Sage 2715
    *PHYS 1100 –Physic I (SI)

    8 pm – 10 pm

    Sage 2704     Sage 2704

     

     

     

    Graduate Teaching & Learning Assistants (TLAs)

    Drop-in tutoring sessions are supervised by graduate Teaching & Learning Assistants (TLAs). TLAs also hold open office hours, lead extra review sessions before major tests in core courses, and coordinate workshops on academic-related topics (such as MatLab software and file version control) and professional development (such as tips for preparing for GRE exams and applying for graduate school). The TLAs act as an outreach arm of ALAC, and interact closely with faculty to provide feedback on areas of concern for students.  Each TLA is an outstanding student referred to ALAC by their respective department chair, then approved and funded by the Vice Provost and Dean of Graduate Education.

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    ****** TLA STAFF -  FALL 2017  ******

    TLA OFFICE HOURS AND COURSES FOR ASSISTANCE

    ==================================================================================

     

    Zichong Li – liz19@rpi.edu 

    Calc II/ Intro Diff Eq.

    • Office Hours – Wed. 2 pm - 4 pm - Amos Eaton 433 
    • Office Hours - Thurs. 4 pm - 6 pm - Amos Eaton 433

     

    Carl Kangminchengk3@rpi.edu

    IEA / Thermal and Fluids

    • Office Hours – Mon & Thur. -  9 am - 11 am - JEC 2001

     

    Mary McGahaymcgahm@rpi.edu

    Physics I / Physics II

    • Office Hours – Mon & Thur.  - 11 am - 12 am - Resnick Center - JROWL

     

    Joe Meesemeesew@rpi.edu

    Multivariable / Intro Diff Eq.

    • Office Hours – Wed. 12 pm - 2 pm - CII 4040
    • Office Hours - Thurs. 2 pm - 4 pm - Sage 4112

     

    Daniel Parkparkd5@rpi.edu

    Calc I / Calc II

    • Office Hours – Mon. and Thurs. 10 am - 12 pm - Lally 09

     

    Andrew Showersshowea@rpi.edu

    Computer Science I

    • Office Hours – Thurs. 2 pm - 4 pm - Ricketts 208

     

    Salles Viana Gomes de Magalhaes - sallesviana@gmail.com

    Data Structures

    • Office Hours – Mon. 6 pm - 8 pm - CII 4040

     

    Scott Kellogg - kellos@rpi.edu

    Vasudha

    • Email for Office Hours

     

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    Learning Support

    The Rensselaer academic experience brings many new and exciting challenges to some of the finest young minds in the world.  For such students, high school work may have been easy, with no need to study or to think about how to study.  The more challenging college curriculum, though, may require learning new skills to adapt to the new circumstances.  Academic support is also available for students referred by Rensselaer’s Office of Disability Services.

    Individual academic coaching

    Learning support includes individual academic coaching by professional staff on organizational skills, time management, learning strategies, and similar topics critical to academic success. Students may find it helpful to have occasional or regular sessions with ALAC's professional staff to identify academic challenges and develop strategies for success.  To arrange a session with a Learning Skills Specialist, contact ALAC.   

    Undergraduate Learning Assistants (LAs)

    Undergraduate Learning Assistants (LAs), trained and supervised by ALAC staff, live in first-year residences to provide informal support, workshops, and early intervention. Learning Assistants help first-year students become active, independent and successful learners.  LAs are assigned to a specific first-year residence hall where they live and assume responsibility for interacting frequently with the residents of that hall while providing academically-related programs, information and assistance. The LA serves as a liaison between their undergraduates and the Advising and Learning Assistance Center.  They are Rensselaer juniors, seniors, or co-terminal undergraduates hired, trained, and supervised by ALAC.

    In 2017, ALAC added an "international LA" to consult with the residence LAs and help students from other countries adapt to American language and culture.

    LA applications for the academic year 2018-2019 are now being accepted. Please click on the link below to apply. All application submissions will be reviewed starting in October 2017.  Deadline for applications is Monday Oct. 30th - 

    https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSc_LyOJ6W4orp1I8R5cxjAcipeHRbtyWicWBJD1u7EXl2f8gw/viewform

     

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    Language and Culture Support

    International students can get Language and Culture Support to help ease their transition to American culture and the English language. ALAC offers a variety of programs to help with the academic, social, and linguistic challenges, while providing opportunities to ask questions about community resources, confusing observations, and more. For more details, contact Brea Barthel (barthb2@rpi.edu).

    Fall 2017

    • W@1 Tea & Talk: Informal intercultural conversations every Wednesday, 1-3 pm, in Folsom Library, 1st floor. Open to all: students (undergrad, grad, exchange), scholars, staff, faculty, and family members, whether US or international. No appointment is necessary, just come!
    • Language & Culture workshops: Each Tuesday, 4-6 pm, come to Russell Sage Lab, room 5101, for an interactive workshop on an aspect of American language & culture. Sept 12 topic is “English at Rensselaer: Idioms, Acronyms, and Academic Terms." No registration required. Open to all students (undergrad, grad, exchange), scholars, staff, faculty, and family members, whether US or international. 
    • Reference books and bulletin board: Materials that may be of interest to the international community are available outside Folsom 155. Books can be used only in the library; other items, such as maps and handouts, are free to take.
    • ADMN1010 "Oral Communication for International TAs": This zero-credit course is designed to help international teaching assistants develop their skills for communicating with students and colleagues in an academic setting. Teaching assistants have priority; others may join as space allows.
    • Support for first-year international students. ALAC has a Learning Assistant (LA) in each first-year residence, plus an LA with international experience to help students adjust to American language & culture. First-year students, see your residence's LA for more information.
    Accordion

    Summer Academic Program for Rensselaer International Students (SAPRIS)

    The Summer Academic Program for Rensselaer International Students (SAPRIS) helps our school's new first-year students start their college adventure early.  Participants have the chance to build connections with each other, returning students, Rensselaer faculty, and professional staff. The optional 7-week program combines academic courses with campus exploration, local field trips, and weekend getaways.

    Recruitment for the Summer 2018 program willl begin in late January.

    Accordion

    Assessment of international TA speaking skills

    Assessment of international graduate teaching assistants’ speaking skills identifies new ITAs who need to improve their oral communication skills to be effective both for the TA and the students they will be teaching.  ALAC provides classes and support to help them do so.

    International graduate students who are offered a teaching assistantship have an initial language assessment, which results in one of three possible outcomes: sufficient skills, with no further testing needed; skills that need development through courses and self-study before the TA can work with a group of students; or skills that have a mix of strengths and weaknesses, requiring additional assessment in a brief interactive presentation.

    For ITAs who are required, or wish, to improve their spoken English, ALAC offers a course on Oral Communication each semester.  In the spring, non-TAs, including other graduate students, family members, undergraduates, or others, may be able to join the course as space allows.

    Overview of ITA Language Assessment

    Test of Spoken English

    Teaching involves stronger comunication challenges, and a higher level of language skill, than just being a student. New international teaching assistants (ITAs) whose first language is not English must have their speaking skills assessed to be sure that the skill is sufficient to promote success for themselves and the students with whom they will work. If you have taken the TOEFL exam and scored 26 or higher on the speaking section, you are exempt from testing. Students from Canada, Great Britain, Australia, and other countries where English is the primary language should speak to ALAC's Language & Culture Support staff; they may be excused from testing.  All other students must take the SPEAK test (Speaking Proficiency English Assessment Kit) to evaluate his/her oral proficiency.  Note that studying as an undergraduate or graduate student at an American college, and even experience as a teaching assistant at another college or university, is not sufficient for being exempted from testing.  We want to be sure that you meet our expectations for communication ability. 

    SPEAK Test

    The SPEAK test is approximately 20 minutes long, and evaluates speaking skills in a variety of aspects. There are seven sections on the test that involve:
    * Answering brief questions
    * Giving directions using a map
    * Telling a story from a series of pictures
    * Answering questions based on a single graphic
    * Explaining a schedule or notice

    Testing is done by appointment only. The student will have a printed booklet and taped instructions, and record themselves on equipment provided by ALAC. A sample test can be reviewed prior to starting the assessment.

    After the test a trained evaluator rates the student's oral communication based on their pronunciation, grammar, fluency, and overall comprehensibility. The test is scored on a scale of 20 - 60, and results are sent to the student, plus the appropriate department chair and graduate program administrator. The flow chart shown below describes the process and outcomes of test scores.

    First-time teaching assistant
     
    Speak test
     
    Score 40 or below* Score 45 - 50* Score 55 - 60
    Oral skills not yet sufficient. Language limitations on TA work; no assignments requiring formal communication with groups of students. Must take the course on Oral Communication for International TAs (ADMN1010), and be re-assessed with a microteaching at the end of the semester. Further assessment needed to determine if skills are suffiicient.  TA speaking skills will be assessed in an interview with ALAC's Language & Culture Support staff and a representative from the Office of Graduate Education. Some factors considered include overall fluency, level of interaction, clarity of speech, ability to respond to questions, and onverbal communication. Oral skill is deemed fully satisfactory; no language-related restrictions on TA assignment.  TA is invited to contact ALAC's Language & Culture Support staff if any questions or adjustment concerns.
     
    Possible assessment outcomes  
       
    Not yet sufficient Partially Satisfactory Fully Satisfactory
    TA work limited to grading and possibly office hours. TA must take Oral Comm. for TAs, and have a microteaching at the end of the semester. No language-related restrictions on TA assignment, but TA must take ADMN1010 and have a microteaching at the end of the semester. Fully approved; no language-related limitations on TA assignment.