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.

    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). 

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

    LAST NIGHT FOR DROP IN TUTORING - - WED. DEC. 13TH 

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

                            *******  STUDY DAYS  SCHEDULE *********

                                               ALUMNI HOUSE

                       SAT. DEC. 16th               SUN. DEC. 17th 
    12 pm - 3 pm 12 pm - 3 pm
    • ENGR 1100 IEA
    • ENGR 1100 IEA
    • MATH 2010 Multivariable Calc.
    • MATH 2010 Multivariable Calc.
    • MATH 2400 Intro Diff Eq.
    • MATH 2400 Intro Diff Eq.
    • PHYS 1100 Physics I
    • PHYS 1100 Physics I
     
    • PHYS 1100 Physics I
    3 pm - 6 pm 3 pm - 6 pm
    • ENGR 1100 IEA
    • ENGR 1100 IEA
    • MATH 1010 Calculus I
    • MATH 1010 Calculus I
    • MATH 1020 Calculus II
    • MATH 1020 Calculus II

                      *******  FINAL REVIEWS  SCHEDULE *********

    Thurs. Dec. 14th  
    • 2 pm - 4 pm - - MATH 2010 Multivariable Calculus  - - DCC 324
    • 4 pm- 6 pm - - ENGR 1100 IEA  - - DCC 324
    • 6 pm - 8 pm - - PHYS 1100 Physics I  - - DCC 324
    Fri. Dec. 15th  
    • 2 pm - 4 pm - - MATH 2400 Intro Diff Eq.  - - DCC 324
    Sun. Dec. 17th 
    • 1 pm - 3 pm - - CSCI 1100 Computer Science I  - - DCC 324
    • 3 pm - 5 pm - - CHEM 2250 Organic Chemistry I  - - DCC 324

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

      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 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.

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

    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

     

    Accordion

    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.

     

     

    Text Block

    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 from other countries 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 occasional getaways.

    A single fee covers just about everything. Over half of the cost is tuition for a four-credit speech course and a one-credit ESL course. The fee also includes housing, food, staffing, and all costs of field trips except for personal-choice purchases. The 2018 fee is not yet determined because tuition and housing rates are not yet available. More information will be posted when it is available.

    Recruitment for the Summer 2018 program willl begin in late January. For now, read the information below, and contact us at sapris@rpi.edu with any questions.

    We hope to see you in the summer. Watch for email!

    Start early, start right. Start with SAPRIS!

    LEARN teamwork, research, reporting, and presentation skills in a Commmunication course

    The Speech Communication course introduces you to team-based projects and independent research. You will learn how to find, evaluate, synthesize, and report technical information. Projects will require both oral and written reports, giving you practice and feedback on slide design, nonverbal communication, persuasive techniques, editing, and more. Returning undergraduates often choose to take the summer class, so you can make new friends and hear about Rensselaer from a student's perspective.

    Completing the four-credit course in the summer also gives you more flexibility in the Fall. If you struggle with a full course load during your first semester, you may be able to reduce your courses without falling behind. And here's an added bonus: the course meets two of the undergraduate school-wide requirements for graduation! It counts as part of your requirements for classes in the school of Humanities, Arts, & Social Sciences (HASS), and also as a Communication-Intensive course.

    PREPARE for the challenges of college-level study in a one-credit course on English for Academic Purposes.

    Keeping up with college-level work can be difficult for anyone, but international students adjusting to English may face even stronger challenges. If you think reading academic texts means starting at the beginning and reading through to the end, think again! This course will explain strategies such as “pre-reading” to help you read better and faster. Learn tips on how to understand your professors and classmates, take notes, prepare for assignments/exams, write academic papers, communicate with teachers, and more.

    EXPLORE the campus, community, and region

    You will have life beyond classes!

    Discussions with people on campus and in the community will introduce you to interesting aspects of American life. Day trips will take you to local attractions, and a longer field trip after classes end will take you to tourist destinations. If you feel adventurous, you can explore the area on your own. Local bus transportation is free using your Rensselaer student ID card.

    ADJUST to independent study, life in a dorm, and living in America.

    Social adjustment is an important part of college success!

    The transition from high school to college is exciting, but can be confusing. Like most first-year students, you may be coping with new aspects of daily life, from managing time to managing laundry. SAPRIS helps you get settled in the dorms and on the campus so those changes are all "under your belt" before you have a full course load.

    COLLABORATE with other students

    Start creating your network of friends

    In SAPRIS, you will build strong connections with fellow program members as well as returning students in the speech class. The public speaking class is highly interactive, with many projects requiring pair or team collaboration. Living and eating on campus will also provide you with many opportunities for informal conversations and possible friendships.

    BE READY for your first full semester

    When your courses start in the fall, you will be rested, adjusted to American life, familiar with the campus, and ready for highly interactive, challenging college courses. And for undergraduates, if the transition is still difficult you will already have five college credits, so can consider dropping a course without worrying about getting behind. SAPRIS is the first step on the road to a successful college career!

    READ what SAPRIS alums say about the program

    Don't take our word for it!

    The comments below come from participants in past SAPRIS programs.

    "I was already [living] in American culture but I needed time to adjust myself to the new environment... For people who have never been in America, the adjustment is even harder."

    "My high school experience was very relaxing and easy. [SAPRIS] helped me learn how to study harder and get adjusted to the expectations of college."

    "I never knew how important it was to ask for help. [SAPRIS] helps students know you have to ask for help if you need it."

    "The whole summer program is like a buffer between my high school and college."

    "Having a one-on-one meeting with the professor was helpful. If I had not been required to meet with the professor I wouldn’t realize how important it is to talk with the professor. Now [in the fall semester] I go to office hours with my professors when I have questions."

    "The practice in research really helped, because I knew how to interview people and find information. I was so nervous before when I interviewed someone."

    "What really helped me in the ESL [sessions] was the personal experience with someone who was an international student. When she talked about her experience in America, that really helped me a lot."

    "The trips are really helpful to know how to get around Troy and know what’s in Troy."

    "I felt very prepared for my fall courses. I have a better understanding about what college is all about, and what things I can expect from college."

    FIND ANSWERS to frequently asked questions

    Did we think of your question?

    SAPRIS is a seven-week summer program to welcome international students to Rensselaer and to American academic culture. The list below shows questions we think you might have about SAPRIS. Do you wonder about something not mentioned here? Just email your question to us at aleu.

    • Who can apply for the Summer Academic Program for Rensselaer International Students (SAPRIS)?

    Any international student accepted to Rensselaer as a first-year undergraduate student or new graduate sudent is eligible to apply. However, you must pay the deposit to confirm your enrollment at Rensselaer for the Fall 2016 semester before you can be admitted to this summer program.

    • What are the benefits of attending this program?

    SAPRIS is designed to help you with the many transitions you will be facing. This includes giving you experience with academic research and team projects while you adapt to American language and culture. Taking your public speaking course through SAPRIS enables you to work in a small group of international students and get feedback from faculty skilled in teaching communication to non-native English speakers. You also will receive additional support tailored to your needs in an English as a Second Language (ESL) lab. When courses start in the fall semester, you will be prepared because you will understand the campus, the services, and faculty expectations. You also will have experience communicating on a small project team, something that is a part of many Rensselaer courses.

    • Can you tell me something about the program schedule?

    Sure! For Summer 2016, you can arrive on campus on July 9 or 10. The first two days will be flexible, with trips arranged to local stores so you can buy what you need for your residence room and to give you time to recover from jet lag. The Speech Communication course and ESL class will start on Tuesday July 12, with four total hours of class every Monday through Friday through August 12. Evenings will be unstructured to give you time to do coursework and relax with classmates. Most weekends (Saturday/Sunday) will be free time with optional activities. After the courses end, the group will have a longer field trip. Informal activities the following week will help you start your fall semester relaxed and ready for work. Your program fee includes housing until you move into your fall residence.

    • My spoken English is not very strong, so I am worried about taking a public speaking class. Do I have to take the course?

    We know that learning English can be very challenging. This program enables you to take the public speaking course now, to improve your speaking skills before school starts. The teacher for the summer class is very experienced in helping international speakers, plus you will get extra support in the ESL sessions. Yes, you need to take the course as part of the program. When the fall semester starts you will have already completed your requirement for a four-credit communication-intensive course.

    • My spoken English is very good, do I need to take the one-credit English as a Second Language sessions?

    Congratulations on your success! Conversational English and academic English are very different, however. As a new college student you will be adjusting to many different Englishes (academic, RPI-specific, field-specific, age-specific), plus slang and more. The ESL sessions will be tailored to help you improve in all areas of language.

    • Because this is a summer course I will not have homework, right?

    Wrong! The course is designed to introduce you to rigorous academic expectations, so you will have to read the textbooks, do library and internet research, prepare speeches, meet with your teammates outside of class, and do other assignments to fulfill class requirements. Because you will be focused on only one full course, though, you can handle the workload while having time to socialize, explore, and relax.

    • I am comfortable exploring an area on my own. Can I choose not to do the activities part of the program?

    The program combines language and culture exploration, so the group activities are an important part of the experience. Most weekends (Saturday/Sunday) and many weeknights will be unstructured so that you can do optional travel on your own. You get free service on the local buses with your RPI student card, so you can explore Troy & Albany. Troy is about three hours from New York City (to the south) and Boston (to the East), so adventure is easily available.

    • How much does SAPRIS cost, and what does that fee cover?

    A single program fee covers just about everything! Almost half of the undergraduate fee is tuition for the four-credit speech class (one credit for grad students) and one-credit ESL class. The fee also covers: residence hall housing and food; health insurance & Health Center fee; transportation and admissions for program-sponsored activities; and administrative costs. Other costs, such as supplies for your residence, printing, additional travel, and personal purchases, are not covered. Transportation from the Albany International airport, Rensselaer train station or the Albany Greyhound station may be included, depending upon the day you arrive.

    • Can I include the cost of the program with my fall bill?

    No. In keeping with Rensselaer policies, the fee for any summer program must be paid in full before attending a summer class.

    • I have family in the area and could stay with them for the program. Can the housing cost be taken off the program price?

    Living on campus is an important part of the experience. All first-year students are required to live on campus, so this program will help you adjust to residence life and to campus services. You would still be able to visit family or friends on the weekends.

    • The program sounds great. How do I sign up?

    The first step is to complete a free online application. The application will be available by February 1, with a link on the SAPRIS home page.

    • After I apply, what’s next?

    Program applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis. Confirmation will be sent to the email you list on the application. Once you are confirmed for SAPRIS, you will receive a bill from the Rensselaer Bursar’s office. You then need to pay the bill within a week to hold your spot and to start the processing of the I-20 needed for your visa. (More information about this will be included with your confirmation.)

    Did we answer your questions? If not, email us at alac@rpi.edu for a personal response.

    Did you like our answers? Apply now! The application is free.

    Start early, start right. Start with SAPRIS!

     

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    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.