Mission and Vision

What do we do, and why?

To enrich the academic experiences of undergraduates and to augment the work of faculty and advisers, Penn State Learning prepares peer tutors and supports them as they lead diverse co-curricular learning communities that promote disciplinary knowledge and skills, as well as successful habits of life-long learners. Our staff and tutors partner with faculty to communicate learning objectives, test methods for helping students achieve those objectives, provide departments feedback for measurement and refinement, and, as appropriate, present conclusions to peers for review.   

What do we envision?

With the help of Penn State Learning and other advocates for academic excellence, all undergraduates admitted to University Park campus will meet or exceed the skill standards required to succeed as scholars in their chosen programs and will thrive as cooperative citizens and peer educators within a global society.  

Strategic Priorities for 2014-2018, by Theme/Team

Organizational and Resource Development (Stephanie Blanda, Jim Hager and Neill Johnson)

  • Shift or secure resources to help academic units answer significant questions about learning and better meet the demands of an evolving curriculum.
  • Make research-based practices of highly successful learners more visible and accessible to students and their mentors. Feature Penn State students as messengers. Collaborate with Division of Undergraduate Studies advisers.
  • Working with local experts, use research on learning space design and learning technologies to modify tutor labs and assess effects on learners and on tutor practices.

Data Collection, Sharing and Analysis (Dawn Bowersox, Lena Halsey, Teresa Burkhart and Dave Ryan)

  • Analyze student use of available academic assistance resources, identify gaps and overlaps, and work with departments to streamline services and address needs of the new general education curriculum.
  • Secure a system that can be applied by departments/campuses to track students’ use of academic assistance options and compare across units; collaborate with Project LionPATH.

Tutor and Staff Development (Karen Elizabeth Moroski, Brendaly Drayton and Jon Olson)

  • Identify areas of tutor training we do best and develop a plan for sharing with others who are creating or leading undergraduate tutor programs in face-to-face and online settings.
  • Establish a tutor alumni network to find out how former tutors are applying what they learned here to life after college and how they would like to give back.
  • Draft a plan for flexible professional development options that will encourage staff to grow within their jobs, diversify their skills, and open new avenues for promotion at Penn State and beyond.

Diversity and Sustainability (all staff)

  • Hire students from groups that are underrepresented in their majors and/or in our programs.
  • Work with Educational Equity programs to identify talented students who are interested in tutoring for us.
  • Promote our student job opportunities with the federal Work-Study program so that we can hire more first generation college students as tutors and receptionists.
  • Make private break space for student employees who have obligations related to religious observances.
  • Mentor minority staff and students, serve on equity commissions, advise minority and sustainability-oriented student organizations, and seek development opportunities related to diversity and sustainability.
  • Participate in voluntary composting, making minimal use of artificial lighting, maximizing passive solar warming in cold weather and sun-blocking window treatments in the summer.
  • Identify staff to serve on local green teams within facilities we occupy.
  • Prepare tutors to support diversity and sustainability courses, especially to the extent that these courses are part of the general education curriculum.