Knowledge Market assists, educates students

GVL / Luke Holmes - Emily Sartorius works at the Knowledge Market in the Mary Idema Pew Library.

Luke Holmes

GVL / Luke Holmes – Emily Sartorius works at the Knowledge Market in the Mary Idema Pew Library.

Dylan Grosser

The Knowledge Market has existed since the Mary Idema Pew Library opened on Grand Valley State University’s Allendale Campus in 2013. While the structure of the services offered there have mostly remained the same, a few aspects have been expanded upon in recent years. The number of hours the services are offered has increased, and a new data analysis component was added last year.

The Knowledge Market is a central location for students to seek help with assignments via consultations that fall into the following categories: writing, research, presentation, speech and data analysis. Students meet with consultants in these categories to help talk through assignments, or learn how to use resources to help them. Students meet with consultants by appointment online, or by dropping by in person. The consultants themselves are students at GVSU, paid by the university and trained in how to assist students who need help with an assignment.

The service is assignment-based help, unlike tutoring, which is a service that helps students specific to a class they are taking, and is limited to 50 minutes a week per subject. Students may receive consultations in the Knowledge Market for 30 minutes a day, as many days in a week they need.

Multiple positions have been created to support the Knowledge Market, as well as many student positions to work as consultants.

Audrey Yeiter is a GVSU student who has worked as a consultant for three years. As a freshman, Yeiter was told about the Knowledge Market from a professor, and was extended an application to sign up as a consultant. After doing some reading on it and sitting down with a consultant herself, she ended up filling out the application to become a research consultant. So far, she says she likes it.

“It’s really rewarding,” Yeiter said. “It’s a lot of fun just to see people grow and learn and be able to use all the resources that we have, because GVSU has a lot of resources available to students.”

Yeiter is a biomedical sciences student, but said the consultants study a variety of subjects. After college, Yeiter said she’s going to pharmacy school and will continue to help people in her career.

Yeiter said the hardest part about being a consultant is to problem solve and make decisions very quickly because of the 30-minute time limit. Sometimes, students come in with little understanding of what they want the topic of their project to be, and still need to do brainstorming and researching after that.

“You just have to be able to assess what they need, and that’s a skill you learn from doing it for a while,” Yeiter said.

She said more people could use the service.

“I think there’s a lot of people who don’t know that it exists,” Yeiter said. “There are a lot of classes that are required to come for credit, and even those people who didn’t know about us, (they) learned something while they were here.”

University Libraries staff member Jennifer Torreano also works as a research consultant manager for the Knowledge Market. Torreano said marketing for the Knowledge Market is one area she hopes her department can improve on. This year, more money and resources are being put into marketing the Knowledge Market to both students and faculty.

“Students are more likely to come to the Knowledge Market if their professor recommends it,” she said. “It’s just hard to reach out to them all because there are so many.”

Increasing marketing means the Knowledge Market is working with a video producer to create some videos about the Knowledge Market. Posters and flyers are also being distributed.

Torreano said GVSU was one of the first universities to try a service like the Knowledge Market, and is still the only university that combines as many resources for students in one place.

She said the design of the Knowledge Market is intentional, to draw attention to the resources for students.This way, while students may not have a project they are working on at that moment, they can remember where the Knowledge Market is and come back if they need help later on.

Hours for the Knowledge Market have expanded over time, beginning in 2013 with hours from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. Now, the Knowledge Market is open from noon to 11 p.m. However, speech consultants are available starting at 4 p.m. and writing consultants are available starting at 6 p.m.

Torreano maintains the number of consultations are going up as students are starting to become more aware of the Knowledge Market’s resources.

“We would love it if students stopped by for a consultation on whatever they’re working on,” Torreano said. “If you’re working in the library and you get stuck, we’re right downstairs.”