Vulcan Learning Commons (VLC)

The student's second most important place ... after the classroom 

For Spring 2022, tutoring starts Monday, January 24 and ends on Monday, May 2.

*Per University COVID-19 Mitigation Policy, All Tutoring Will Be Conducted Virtually Until Further Notice*

The VLC offers PennWest California students free academic support in the form of tutoring and Supplemental Instruction (SI). VLC peer tutors work with PennWest California students on reading, writing, speaking, and course-specific content. The VLC is composed of two centers, the Foundry Writing Center  (Noss 110) and the Learning Assistance Center (Noss 115).  The centers are a safe and welcoming place for the student to study, learn, and get assistance from peer educators. For more information, click on the following tabs.

What is SI?

    • SI is an interactive learning experience with student leaders who have excelled in the selected courses in the past. These SI leaders will work with the professors and the students to enhance understanding and solidify concepts learned in class.
    • Supplemental Instruction (SI) is a non-remedial approach to learning that supports PennWest California students toward academic success by integrating "what to learn "with "how to learn".
    • SI provides support for students to help them succeed.

SI Leaders:

  • SI leaders are academically inclined students who have excelled in the selected course in the past. They work with professors to create effective and meaningful SI sessions using cutting edge engaging educational instructional techniques.
  • Attend the SI offered course and collaborate with the professor on what has to be covered that week.
  • Three one-hour SI sessions on campus consisting of two face-to-face and one virtual session each week.
  • A list of SI sessions with dates and times have been provided. If you have any questions or would want to serve as a future SI leader, please contact:

Both centers are located in Noss Hall. The Foundry Writing Center is located in Noss 110. The Learning Assistance Center is located in Noss 115. Both centers are a safe and welcoming place for the student to study, learn, and get assistance from peer educators.

Services offered by the Foundry Writing Center:

  • Individualized consultation with student writers 
  • Face-to-Face writing consultations
  • Online writing consultations 
  • Writing workshops (WW)
  • Assist ESL students

Services offered by the Learning Assistance Center:

  • Individualized Face-to-Face tutoring
  • Individual online tutoring
  • Study Groups (SG)
  • Supplemental Instruction (SI)
  • Assistance with placements and proficiency exams (such as Praxis, etc.)



These tutoring services are: 

  1. PennWest California's VLC (Vulcan Learning Center’s) own peer tutors

    Virtual tutoring conducted by PennWest California tutors are available this Spring 2022. The remote tutoring will be conducted via Zoom. Appointments can be scheduled through Starfish or requests sent to

  2. SMARTHINKING in addition to PennWest California’s VLC own tutors, there is another FREE independent option which is to use the tutors of Smarthinking, an outside online tutoring company. Students log into their PennWest California D2L homepage, go to “University Resources,” then to “Smarthinking tutoring (students).” Students should make sure to enable the pop ups. This option is available yearlong provided the student has an active PennWest California D2L account.

Learn more about Smarthinking

*If you need assistance with the login process or have any questions, please contact us in one of the following ways at: or

For updates on COVID-19, check the PennWest California site:


Supplemental Instruction (SI)

The VLC also offers Supplemental Instruction (SI) to support some courses.  SI, a nationally applauded program developed in 1973 by Dr. Deanna Martin at UMKC, is a peer-facilitated academic assistance program. A target course is identified; it usually is a course with high enrollment and high rate of failure (25% or more of DWF). Three persons are involved in the SI planning and support to a target course.  One of the faculty teaching the course (SICF), the SI leader (SIL), a peer tutor who already took the course and has done well in it, and the SI Supervisor (SIS). Undergraduate students who had successfully completed the course are selected, with recommendation from faculty, to serve as SI leaders.  The SIL facilitates regularly scheduled weekly SI sessions. The purpose of these SI sessions is to help students succeed and excel. The SIL must attend class with the currently enrolled students (even though he/she has taken the course and done well in it). There are two to three SI sessions per week per SI-supported course.

An SI session consists of a mixture of the below items. 

  • Going through lecture notes for reinforcement
  • Going through reading assignments from textbook, articles, Internet, etc…
  • Reviewing for upcoming quiz or test.
  • Integrating Study Skills
  • Lab activity

SI relies on students’ participation and interaction during the SI session. By attending consistently SI sessions, students become independent learners and develop study skills that transfer to other courses and disciplines. They also develop collaborative learning work habits. 


If you have a question, please contact Tyton Brunner at or 724-938-1599.


How to reach us

Students can send an email to to request a tutorial appointment. They need to specify the course number, course name, format of tutoring requested (online or f2f), and other pertinent information.


Additional Information

VLC Staff

Dr. Scott Hargraves, PT, DPT, MA
Executive Director VLC

Ms. Kathy Nogy
Administrative Assistant

Graduate Assistants:

Kate Kessler

Franchesca Parks

Mackenzie Haladyna

Becky Bouille


In support to PennWest California's vision, the VLC will become the safe and welcoming hub of excellent academic support and resources. The VLC will become the second most important place, after the classroom, for all PennWest California students where they continue growing into lifelong independent, confident, and creative learners and writers

Foundry Writing Center Mission

The VLC's Foundry Writing Center strives to provide academic resources and writing consultation services to all PennWest California students with the purpose of helping them become:

  1. More effective writers
  2. Independent writers
Learning Assistance Center Mission

The VLC's Learning Assistance Center strives to provide academic resources and tutorial assistance services to all PennWest California students with the purpose of helping them:

  1. Succeed in their assisted courses.
  2. Increase thier confidence and self-efficiancy.
  3. Augment their metacognative skills.
  4. Grow into independent learners.
Advisory Board

The VLC is supoorted and counseled by an Advisory Board, which is made up of faculty, staff, and students.

Advisory Board Mission
The VLC's Advisory Board mission is to advuse, guide, and support the VLC's director in achieving the goals and objectives of the VLC. Specifically, the AB advises the VLC director with:

  • Developing a budget.
  • Developing and implementing services and initiatives that increase both VLC's usage and student retention.
  • Refining exisiting services.
  • Marketing and promoting the VLC
  • Brainstorming ideas, possible grant activities, social events, etc.
  • University Community, especially students, voiced concerns, suggestions, and needs.