The Process of Learning: The McGraw Center for Teaching and Learning

April 14, 2016

“McGraw,” as we’re commonly called, is a physical space in Frist Campus Center to study – both independently and in groups – and also an office that provides tutoring, workshops, review sessions, and one-on-one consultations to assist you as you develop as a learner and scholar at Princeton.

As you make the transition from high school to college, you’ll probably be challenged, at some point, with new sets of expectations for learning. We count on the fact that Princeton first-year students are well equipped when it comes to learning, but the strategies that got you here may not be as effective as they were in high school. For instance, you’ll be expected to solve problems in math and science at higher conceptual levels, read multiple texts that require distinct approaches and interpretations, and learn the particular conventions and assumptions of many different disciplines. Most of us don’t pay much attention to the strategies we use (or don’t) to learn. But when we enter a new environment we need to do so in order to adapt and thrive. This, you’ll find, is a lifelong challenge – to be willing to give up past approaches in favor of new, more effective ones.

At McGraw, we use what we learn about how and what Princeton professors teach in order to design the most useful academic support resources for you. We prompt you to reflect on how you learn: what questions do you ask of yourself when you’re trying to solve a difficult chemistry problem? How do you analyze and synthesize texts the way an anthropologist, an art historian, or an economist would? How do you integrate knowledge from an entire course? We encourage you to think about the process of learning, whether you’re solving problems with a group in Study Hall or trying to implement new material from a workshop. You can also meet individually with a trained peer or graduate student consultant who will assist you to develop a strategic approach to learning in your own courses that enables you to make the most of lectures, precepts, and readings.

While you may be perfectly able, even content, to meet these challenges on your own, you should know that McGraw is a hub of academic support and collaborative learning. Scores of undergraduates, especially first-year students, take advantage of the academic services we provide -- indeed we have more than 9000 student visits per year. Subscribe now to our weekly newsletter full of timely advice, and information about our staff and upcoming programming.  We hope to see you here, soon and often, and invite you to think again, and again, about the processes and products of your learning.