The Collaborative Learning Program

The Collaborative Learning Program (CLP) is a cooperative effort between the Writing and Reading Center and several humanities and social science departments to ensure that students receive all the help they need during the semester. Participating classes are assigned a WRC tutor who attends the class once weekly and who meets with small groups for regular weekly sessions at the WRC.In operation since 1985, the CLP has been a success in the eyes of faculty, students, and tutors.

How the CLP works

While some faculty request class tutors who maintain informal collaborations with students, developmental writing and other selected courses require that all enrolled students participate in the program. During the second week of the semester, these classes come to the WRC for an orientation and sign up for regular weekly appointments with the class tutor for small group work. In order to become an integral part of the course, tutors attend their assigned class once per week and meet with the instructor to discuss plans for the tutorials and to review students' progress.

Why UMD needs the CLP

Despite the best efforts of tutors and faculty, some students have difficulty in certain courses because they need more individual attention than instructors can provide. The purpose of the CLP is to help monitor students' progress in their coursework, to offer assistance different in degree and in kind from that which they receive in class, to help students understand the scope of their academic responsibilities at UMD through a mentoring relationship, and to emphasize the importance of collaboration as a skill. We use a team approach--student, instructor, and tutor-- to prepare students for their writing and academic careers. We don't want struggling students to fall through the cracks of the academic system, and we want to reinforce that achieving academic success happens through their efforts and engagement.

How tutors help CLP students

Instructors decide what course goals they want their tutors and students to accomplish. They offer guidance to and confer with their tutors so that the tutors can then help with class assignments and reinforce skills that students need to be successful in the course. Besides helping with coursework, tutors can also guide students to resources for academic advising, registration and other needed services, can offer general academic support, and can tutor in related areas.

Student responsibilities in the CLP

Students participating must

  • Meet with their tutors weekly
  • Prepare for their tutoring sessions by bringing their papers in progress, their graded papers, and other appropriate materials
  • Attend their class regularly and understand the assignments
  • Take responsibility for their successes and failures
  • Let the tutor and instructor know what works and what doesn’t

Students participating will

  • Get the help they need from a tutor familiar with the class
  • Have a peer who understands student pressures looking out for and guiding them
  • Get regular feedback on their progress in class both from their instructor and their tutor
  • Work with experienced WRC tutors who can emphasize their long term learning goals in addition to helping with assignments at hand.  

Tutor benefits from the CLP

  • They gain from the experience of working with groups
  • They learn from the responsibility of working with an entire class of students engaged in meeting course and instructor objectives
  • They work closely with and receive regular feedback from an instructor

Faculty benefits from the CLP

They have one tutor devoted to their class They get regular feedback from the tutor about their students' progress They can offer facilitated small group assignments in their courses They get weekly attendance reports from the WRC They know that every student in the class is getting the specific help that instructors request each week They have use of the tutor in the classroom once a week They work with experienced WRC tutors who can look at the long term progress of their students