Frequently Asked Questions pertaining to the Student Learning Center as a whole.
SPEAR Academy, a holistic six-week summer program designed to foster the academic, mental, and physical development of middle school students. In the program, scholars practiced the skills and mindset necessary for academic success. Scholars took courses in mathematics, science, writing, foreign languages, and foster a body-mind connection through practicing dance, yoga, martial arts and other activities.
Division of Undergraduate Education.
UC Berkeley generous donors and a diverse set of grants.
We have around twenty full-time professional staff.
We have around three hundred student staff in any given semester.
We have 15 programs.
Frequently Asked Questions about our Economics Program.
Our emphasis is on equipping you with economic analysis tools and quantitative reasoning skills, so we engage in the problem-solving process with you instead of just providing answer keys.
In preparation for all our services, our tutors attend lectures, visit office hours, and meet on a weekly basis to work on class assignments together. For exam reviews, they also consult the teaching faculty and/or Head GSI to hammer out the content they believe best represent the focus of the class.
We place top priority on our tutors’ training. All tutors are required to attend weekly training seminars where we read and discuss research papers on peer pedagogy and education at large. Our goal is to equip every tutor with the skills and knowledge necessary to effectively serve their peers.
Our tutors attend lectures, visit office hours and consult teaching professors and/or Head GSIs for content preparation. We maintain an open line of communication with the department in order to best represent the courses we serve.
The SLC Economics Program currently offers 2 formats of service: drop-in tutoring and exam review sessions. Drop-in tutoring starts week 3 of the semester until the last week of instruction and exam review sessions take place during exam seasons.
At this point, our services include only drop-in tutoring and exam reviews.
At this point, we only offer services for the Fall and Spring semesters.
Drop-in tutoring takes place in the Cesar Chavez Atrium between the hours of 10AM and 2PM from Monday to Thursday. Drop by at a time that works for you to work with a peer tutor on economic materials of your choice like problem sets, lecture exercises, or concept review. Check out the course-specific schedule here.
Exam Review Session
Review materials are typically a mix of concept review and practice problems, with slight variations depending on the course. Materials are designed based on class materials and in consultation with faculty and/or head GSIs.
RSVP links for upcoming review sessions are posted on our live exam review schedule, announcements, and emailed to our mailing list no earlier than a week before each session. Seats fill up quickly, so reserve a spot as soon as you can! We recommend following our Facebook page to receive real-time notifications.
If you think your email is not on our mailing list, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Unfortunately, you can’t. We close RSVP forms when review rooms reach maximum capacity. In accordance with the university fire codes, we are unable to accommodate new signups.
It depends. If the RSVP form is still open, and the session you want to switch to is still listed, please email us at email@example.com to change your RSVP. If not, that means the review rooms are at capacity and we won’t be able to switch you.
Language Exchange Program
Frequently asked questions related to the Language Exchange Program.
All you have to do is attend an orientation! There you will learn more about our program formats, meet fellow language enthusiasts, and fill out an intake form. We will use the information from your form to match you with your partner(s).
As a participant in LEP, you can set your schedule to whatever works best for you. So that your practice remains consistent, we ask that participants in the pair/trio format meet for at least 1 hour per week.
Welcome back! Returnees do not need to attend info sessions—however, you must attend an orientation to continue in LEP this semester. We’ve made a few changes to the program and want to keep you up-to-date.
I attended the orientation and submitted my intake form. However, I have not gotten information about my partner. What should I do now?
Pairings are sent out periodically as we find suitable matches. Thank you for your patience!
Can you guarantee I’ll get a partner for my first choice language? Can I be matched with someone of a particular gender/student standing/age?
We do our best to accommodate everyone’s preferences—however, we can’t guarantee that there is someone in the program who is the perfect match. Some semesters, there are no speakers of a certain language participating, in which case we will do our best to match you with your second choice language.
Please allow at least 48 hours for your partner to respond. As all participants are busy Berkeley students, pairs/trios are not always able to make their schedules work. If your partner drops the program, please let us know and we will work to reassign you.
I have already received my partner information, but want to practice multiple languages. Can I get more partners?
Because of the amount of requests we receive, we are only able to assign each participant once. Please consider attending Language Pods and Conversation Groups to practice other languages. In addition, there may be opportunities to meet other partners and change languages at our socials throughout the semester.
Partners are free to have an open conversation about any topic they choose! Common topics include colloquialisms, food, hobbies, politics, pop culture, religion, social customs, and student life.
Our most popular languages are English, French, German, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, and Spanish, but students are practicing a variety of languages from around the globe. Over the past year, we've had speakers of over 26 different languages!
Math and Statistics
The Frequently Asked Questions that are specifically associated with the Math and Statistics Program.
The goal of our tutoring services is to facilitate student understanding of the material. Homework assignments are assigned to assess a student’s understanding. If a tutor works directly on your homework problem, it is very easy to give away the solution rather than helping you develop the logic behind the solution. Instead, tutors are trained to create parallel problems that highlight some of the strategies and techniques you will need to employ to solve your homework problem. If you were to leave with a completed homework assignment without the knowledge required to complete the assignment, then not only are you turning in an assignment that is not your own (a violation of academic honesty policies) but you are also leaving with a false sense of your own understanding.
During our busy times, students are grouped together with other students from the same course. See this as an opportunity to build community with the students in your course, compare answers and strategies, and ask questions as a group. This allows the tutors to be able to work with people more efficiently. Also, having to explain and defend your strategies is an important tool in developing your mastery of the material. If you want individual attention, come during our less busy hours (mornings and days well before due dates).
Students should sign in at the computer once every hour they use our services. There is no need for students to sign out after tutoring sessions.
The Math/Stat tutoring program supports most lower division math and statistics courses, and some upper division courses as well. The courses we support in Drop-In are:
Math 1A/B, 10A/B, 16A/B, 32, 53, 54, 55, and Stat 2/20/21/131A/134
If you have questions from other courses, sign in as “Other Math” or “Other Stat” and let the Drop-In Ambassador know what material that you need help with. These courses take a lower priority than the courses from the list above.
Signing in at the computer helps us manage the resources more efficiently. We adjust the number of tutors that can tutor the various subjects based on the most popular times for that course. Also, by keeping track of the usage in Drop-In Tutoring, we are able to report the frequency that our services are used. Lastly, this helps us direct you to the appropriate tutor.
Frequently Asked Quesitons about our Science Program.
Sign in on the computer at the entrance upon your arrival and a Drop-in Ambassador will direct you to the appropriate table. If there is no Ambassador available, you may take a seat at the table with the sign designated for your course. Feel free to make yourself comfortable and a tutor will check-in with you shortly. You can identify tutors by their program name tags.
You should sign in on the computer each time that you visit drop-in, including within the same day. You should also sign in every hour that you are using drop-in services. Signing in helps us accurately track our usage, which is a way to secure funding for the program. We also use this data to schedule tutors so that we can best support your needs.
If there is no tutor on shift when you arrive, you are welcome to stay and study for your course. We also encourage you to work with fellow classmates at the table!
Although our general service hours are 10AM-4PM, Monday through Friday, the specific schedules for each course vary. To see the schedule for your course, check the weekly drop-in schedule posted by the sign-in computer or on our program website.
Tutors are encouraged to group students together to collaborate, which provides opportunities for you to connect and share ideas with both classmates and a tutor. Our services leverage the power of peer collaboration because research shows that students who work with others, discuss concepts, and share problem-solving strategies perform better in their classes and deepen their own learning.
Study Group Members
To ensure that study groups provide an intimate learning environment where all members can actively engage, seats are limited to 25 students per session. Thus, only registered members can attend. Study group facilitators are instructed to request non-registered and waitlisted students to leave. If seats become available, waitlisted students will be notified and invited to join. While you wait for seats become available, we encourage you to utilize drop-in services regularly to help you stay on top of the course material.
Students can only be registered for one study group per course during the semester. If you wish to switch to a different session, you must first drop your current group and then sign up for the group you wish to join. If that session has no open seats, you’ll need to drop your current group and sign up for the waitlist.
Please email the SLC Science Team at firstname.lastname@example.org. Although you will automatically be dropped if you miss two consecutive or three total meetings, we encourage you to drop your group promptly to allow students on the waitlist to join.
Our worksheets provide additional problems that aren’t covered in the session so that members can practice applying what they’ve learned in study group on their own. Doing so will help you strengthen your understanding of concepts previously covered, identify gaps in your knowledge, and further hone your problem-solving skills. We encourage you to tackle these problems and check your solutions with tutors in drop-in.
Exam Review Users
Because seats are limited, students whose seats are confirmed receive priority. Peer facilitators are instructed to ask students without seat confirmations to leave. However, you are welcome to pick up an extra copy of the review worksheet in the Science Drop-in Area during service hours.
You should have your seat confirmation email ready to show the peer facilitators upon your arrival. After the facilitators have confirmed your seat, please sign in on the computer at the entrance, pick up the review problem set, and have a seat.
Why are there always practice problems on the review worksheet that we don’t go over in the session?
Our worksheets provide additional problems that aren’t covered in the session so that you can practice applying what you’ve learned in the review on your own. Doing so will help you strengthen your understanding of the concepts, identify gaps in your knowledge, and further hone your problem-solving skills. We also encourage you to time yourself while solving these problems to simulate an exam-taking environment! Once you’ve tackled the problems, come check your solutions with peer tutors in drop-in before or after your exam.
While we do not provide solutions for review materials, students who have attended the session will receive the answer key by submitting a feedback form.. The feedback link will be announced during the review and you will receive an email reminder afterwards. After you have submitted your feedback, you can expect to receive the answer key within 24 hours. We encourage you to tackle the problems on your own and bring your questions to drop-in.
Faculty and Departmental Staff
The SLC Science Program provides free academic support services to students enrolled in introductory science courses. We offer drop-in services, study groups, learning pods, and exam reviews. We endeavor to provide students with the right tools, approach, and strategies to bolster their confidence and thrive in the sciences.
We leverage the power of peer collaboration to meet students where they are and support them in mastering their science coursework. Students work with undergraduate peer tutors who have successfully completed the courses and are trained in active learning, collaborative peer pedagogy, and effective facilitation strategies specific to the sciences.
Each course that we support has a Course Liaison, a peer tutor who is responsible for attending lecture and office hours, disseminating notes to the tutor team (cluster), communicating with faculty, and having bCourses access. Clusters meet weekly with their Course Liaisons to discuss the material and deepen their own understanding of the subject matter to ensure that our services align with your pedagogy.
There are several ways you can inform your students about our services:
- Provide a link on your syllabus to the program website (www.slc.berkeley.edu/science).
- Make an announcement about the Science Program services on your bCourses page. To request a summary of our services to include in this announcement, please email the SLC Science Team at email@example.com.
- Request a class announcement. The Science Program can send tutors to share information with students prior to or following lecture. To make a request, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Inform your GSIs about the program and encourage them to make announcements in their lab and discussion sections.
- Refer your students to the program during your office hours and student appointments.
Frequently Asked Questions about our Social Science Program.
While attendance for study groups are not mandatory, we highly encourage participants to show up each week. Consistent attendance ensures that you are able to follow the content of the study group as it progresses. It also permits deeper conversation and meaningful connections among your peers. Therefore, if a group is full and a participant has not attended for 3 consecutive weeks, we will remove them from the group.
Currently, the SLC Social Science Program only supports the classes we've listed on our website. For those classes, we offer study groups and drop-in. If you are seeking support for written assignments, we encourage you to utilize the Writing Center at the SLC, as they have experienced peer tutors with diverse disciplinary backgrounds.
You can sign-up for study groups by visiting here. Please note that after week 6 of the semester the application will be closed; however you can contact our program directly (email@example.com) if you would like to join the study group after week 6. Drop-in does not require you to sign-in beforehand, however, you will be asked to sign-in upon your arrival.
Frequently Asked Questions about our Summer Bridge program
University Health Services and the Recreational Sports Facility are both available to scholars.
With guidance from the program, scholars select the two courses that will best position them for academic and future success.
Academic and housing accommodations are provided to meet the individual needs of each scholar.
The Bridge meal plan includes 16 meals and 30 points per week.
Between 350-400 scholars participate each summer; more than 7,200 scholars have completed Bridge since 1973.
The total cost of participation is between $6,787-$7,703; financial aid is available for those who qualify.
Both programs provide a high-quality transitional experience for first-year undergraduates but vary in scope. Bridge comes with a built-in suite of academic support services, advising, and peer counseling designed to further enable scholars to Make the Golden Bear Leap to Success. No other summer programs at Cal offer the same level of high-touch support as Bridge.
All Bridge courses count toward units required to graduate, and many fulfill University and/or college requirements
Bridge 2018 instruction begins Monday, June 18 and concludes Friday, August 10th. Scholars will move in on Sunday, June 17th; international scholars and student-athletes typically arrive 1-2 days earlier than other scholars
Bridge scholars live in a campus residential complex just one block from campus.
The Frequently Asked Questions that are specifically associated with the Undergraduate Course Facilitator Training and Resources Program.
UCFTR Course Facilitators
DeCals are a unique feature of the UC Berkeley campus that enable students to design and facilitate a credit bearing course on any topic of their choosing. Adding 300+ courses to our school’s curriculum each year, DeCal courses and the students that lead them further Berkeley’s dedication to intellectual discovery and knowledge production.
The “DeCal” nickname for these courses originates from the Democratic Education at Cal (DeCal) Program, a student group whose mission is to provide support, outreach, and publicity for classes initiated and facilitated by students. The Program’s success in publicizing classes has led, over the years, to the "DeCal" program name being used as a synonym for all student-initiated and -facilitated "directed group study" classes that fall under the 98/198 (for lower and upper division, respectively) special studies courses umbrella.
To propose the creation or return of a student-initiated special studies 98/198 (DeCal) course, you must have the following:
- Course Proposal Form (CPF)
- Fully developed syllabus
- Unit Value Worksheet (included in CPF packet)
- Letter of Support from the course’s faculty sponsor
- For first-time facilitators: training through one of UCFTR's facilitation and collaborative learning workshops
Please visit the website of the Academic Senate—the faculty-led governing body that makes decisions about the rules/regulations for, and reviews the proposals of, all student-led classes—for a full explanation of each element. Sponsoring departments may also have their own additional requirements for proposing a DeCal, as well as deadlines that fall earlier than that of the Senate. You can refer to this page for department-specific resources and contact information.
Note that some departments may ask you to turn in this proposal packet directly to them, while others may ask you to submit it to the Academic Senate (320 Stephens Hall) on the department's behalf. Once you've submitted your proposal you can choose to post your class on the DeCal website, where most students look for listings of student-initiated classes.
As of Spring 2018, the Academic Senate mandates that all first-time DeCal facilitators must complete training with the UCFTR. Training offerings can be found here. The deadline to fulfill this requirement is the same as the Academic Senate’s course proposal deadline (see below section).
If you have experience facilitating a 98/198 course before, check with your department to confirm if this experience fulfills your requirement, or if you would still need to complete training with UCFTR.
The Academic Senate’s deadline for proposing a DeCal and for fulfilling the first-time facilitator training requirement is always one month before the last day of instruction in the preceding semester (or summer). For specific course proposal deadline dates, click the “Deadlines” tab of the Senate’s website, or the Deadlines page of our website.
Note also that sponsoring departments may have their own additional requirements for proposing a DeCal, as well as deadlines that fall earlier than that of the Senate. You can refer to this page for department-specific resources and contact information.
Among other things, the faculty sponsor is an “Instructor of Record” who chooses to support your course and is thus responsible for reviewing, working with you to create, and signing off on your course proposal materials. A detailed description of the sponsor’s role and responsibilities can be found under the “Instructor of Record” section of the “Resources” tab on the Academic Senate’s website. There, you’ll find links to a Frequently Asked Questions page and a list of responsibilities on the Faculty Checklist page of the Course Proposal Form.
A number of specific teaching titles are authorized by the Academic Senate to sponsor group-study courses, running from various types of lecturers to various types of professors. If you're seeking sponsorship from anyone other than a regular faculty member of the department, it's best to confirm with your sponsoring department that the "Instructor of Record" you'd like to sponsor your course is authorized to do so.
Additionally, faculty generally can only sponsor one 98/198 course per semester (unless they get their Dean's approval for more), so we encourage you to begin your sponsor search as soon as you can. If you find yourself wondering how to reach out to prospective faculty sponsors, we recommend checking out the “How to Find a Faculty Mentor” page created by the Haas Scholars program. Several of the strategies listed there are also applicable to course facilitators looking for a faculty sponsor.
More than you think! The average professor-led class is the result of years of research and fine-tuning, and it's not unusual for GSIs to spend up to a year researching and preparing a class for the first time. Most well-thought-out DeCal classes are undertakings on the scale of a major undergraduate research project: preparation should take a lot of the semester beforehand in the research process, and more time than you think the semester of its implementation.
Though the planning process for a class will vary depending on its structure, below are some recommendations to consider.
In the semester prior to launching your course:
- you should allow yourself as many weeks to plan in advance as you'll have of class meetings
- dealing with logistics can be time-consuming--and distract from the core work of polishing core class content--so start early and stay focussed
- consider your class syllabus and core course curriculum akin to a research project: you need time to season your thoughts on the subject's potential, time to find the best source material, and time to reconsider the best way in which to present it—or to draw it out from your students
- once you have found a potential faculty sponsor, you can solicit their feedback for the ongoing development of the class. Some may be amenable to sponsoring your course provided you fill out some underdeveloped aspects of it—something you can only do if you started the sponsor search early enough in the semester
When class is underway:
most teachers spend at least two hours in prep time outside class for every hour spent inside class, while most teachers working with material for the first time spend three or more hours in prep per every one hour in class
Academic Senate Regulation 760 provides the following guideline: one unit equals a minimum of three hours of work per week, or at least 45 total hours over a 15-week semester. This work includes time spent in class as well as time spent doing work outside of class. This adds up to 45 hours of work each semester for each unit.
In a standard lecture or seminar class structure, that would work out to one hour of meeting time, and two hours of work outside the meeting (for readings, writing assignments, problem sets, discussion, etc.), for each unit earned. If your class starts after the beginning of the semester (e.g., 2nd or 3rd week), you can account for that in extra class time or work outside of class.
When mapping out the amount of work hours and units you want to assign your class, it’s helpful to think about your facilitation needs and semester timeline. For example, some facilitators choose to start their course several weeks into the semester, once the majority of students’ schedules have settled. This allows them to avoid the sometimes disruptive period of having multiple students adding and dropping the course. Other facilitators choose to run their class more intensely up until Thanksgiving or even spring break, but not after, leaving themselves and their students more time to spend on final work in other classes.
To help with your planning process, you can refer to the Academic Senate’s Unit Value Worksheet on page 2 of the Course Proposal Form (CPF) packet.
You can't enroll in your own class for credit, nor can you receive units for facilitating your course. However, in some cases student facilitators can arrange to receive Independent Study (99/199) units for the work of creating their course with their faculty sponsor. The details of these arrangements vary on a case by case basis depending on the discretion of the sponsoring faculty and department, so we recommend reaching out these parties directly for more information.
Faculty Sponsors and Departmental Staff
UCFTR Faculty Sponsors and Departmental Staff
Student-initiated courses have been a fixture of UC Berkeley's academic landscape since the early 1980s. Since that time, thousands of students have educated tens of thousands of their peers in subject areas ranging from dance practica to media studies to language instruction to breaking political issues.
Some classes that have first appeared as "DeCals" have gone on to become part of their departments' regular offerings (e.g. Tagalog); some have been passed on as DeCals continuously for over 15 years (e.g. Joy of Garbage); some provide departments with no other undergraduate presence an opportunity to draw undergrads into the field (e.g. West Wing and Public Policy); some have generated curriculum for the sponsoring professor's core classes and won the student facilitator the Departmental Citation (e.g. Intro to Carnivorous Plants). In short, student-initiated class topics can be as widely varied as those offered by faculty in the Freshman-Sophomore Seminar series, and they have the potential to offer the students who facilitate them, as well as their peers who take them, no less exceptional an educational experience.
Sponsoring a student-initiated class offers faculty the opportunity to provide rich research and pedagogical mentorship on a project which bears immediate fruit--an impact in the classroom, arguably the most relevant discursive space for undergraduates. Many students undertaking these projects are doing so as an opportunity to build research and teaching skills in anticipation of post-graduate work in the discipline. Most who launch such an undertaking have the kind of initiative, passion, and intellectual curiosity that characterize the best scholar-leaders; choosing to sponsor a DeCal means taking an active role in guiding and helping further develop this exciting energy!
Among other things, the faculty sponsor of a DeCal is responsible for reviewing, working with the student(s) to create, and signing off on the course proposal materials (see the “Required Documents” page of the Academic Senate website for a list of these materials). Additionally, a detailed description of the sponsor’s role and responsibilities can be found under the “Instructor of Record” section of the “Resources” tab on the Senate’s website. There, you’ll find links to a Frequently Asked Questions page and a list of responsibilities on the Faculty Checklist page of the Course Proposal Form.
At the outermost administrative level, the Academic Senate’s has established a deadline for course proposals and training fulfillment that always falls one month before the last day of instruction in the preceding semester (or summer). Apart from that, individual departments are at liberty to set their own additional requirements and internal deadlines at points earlier than this, to enable them to more smoothly manage their student-initiated course approval process.
We publicize information about department-specific deadlines and processes through the Department Contacts page of our website.
The campus's Risk Management Office can advise on faculty or departmental liability for events associated with the class they sponsor. Additionally, please note that course facilitators holding any activities off-campus should obtain a signed waiver from participating students in advance, whether the activity is voluntary or required.
Frequently Asked Questions about our Writing Program.
Our services are for registered Cal Undergraduates only. We highly encourage you to follow up with your departmental advisors as well as visit the Graduate Writing Center for graduate level writing support.
As the Student Learning Center is an academic support unit, you can bring any academic writing assignment from a Cal course to a tutoring session. We do not support non-academic or creative writing. This includes, but is not limited to, cover letters, personal statements, resumes, application responses, GRE/TOEFL test essays, poems, and short stories. For support on cover letters, personal statements, and resumes, we encourage you to visit the Career Center.
It’s easy! Go to our online Appointment Center to make a one-time registration here (be sure to use your bmail!). Click here to access our text-only and mobile option. Registration takes less than 5 minutes. Once you create your account, you can begin booking appointments immediately.
Note: All white boxes are open slots! Appointments open 3 days in advance–– Monday’s appointment open every Thursday evening at 9PM (Fall) and 10PM (Spring/Summer). We encourage you to read the helpful tips at the top of the schedule to ensure you are able to book an appointment during busy times. You can book up to 2 appointments each week.
Absolutely! We engage writers in a conversation about any aspect of their own writing and the writing process, focusing on long-term growth rather than a single assignment. Thus, while we do not offer editing services, we talk with and empower writers to identify grammatical patterns, deepen their understanding of academic writing conventions, and develop strategies to improve the overall clarity of their writing. This supports writers to hone their writing skill sets to strengthen their overall academic writing voice.