Peer Tutoring program to change, 6 head coordinators announced

Garrett Cayton ’14, Eugenie Lund-Simon ’14, Sarah Novicoff  ’14, Chelsea Pan ’14, Rayne Peerenboom ’14 and Josh Shapiro ’14  will serve as Peer Tutoring Coordinators for this year, Head of Student Affairs Jordan Church said.

The six coordinators will head a program that will now incorporate more frequent group study sessions with the hope of attracting more people to the program, Church said.

When he observed Peer Tutoring sessions throughout last year, Church didn’t think they were effective. Additionally, some tutors expressed concerns that it had been a year or more since they had learned the material they were tutoring.

“So someone who is currently learning that material, it’s fresher in their minds, they’re closer to it, therefore it can also help out,” Church said.

Students also told Church that group study sessions were effective, so the program will now include more group sessions than the typical one-on-one sessions.

The student tutors currently enrolled in the course they’re tutoring, or “trainees,” will probably tutor only in these group sessions, Church said.

“We haven’t really worked out the exact relationship between trainees and tutors,” Church said, adding that this would be the responsibility for the Peer Tutoring coordinators to figure out.

Church expects the program to begin in about three to four weeks, and definitely in time for midterms in January and eventually finals.

Although different, the new program is much closer to the original than the one that Church proposed in a Faculty Academic Committee meeting Oct. 15.

Church proposed a system in which each course would have “teaching assistants” who would assist the course instructors by helping any students who came to teachers during office hours and X periods.

In this way, the tutoring would have more oversight by and interaction with teachers.

“Ultimately I feel the best way for students to learn and get academic support is through the teacher,” Church said. “I think that’s the most ideal situation, so I was trying to come up with a solution that maximized teacher time.”

FAC disliked the idea, pointing out the abundance of work it would take to implement the program, especially for teachers.

“There’s a strong consensus and concern for overburdening teachers,” Church said. “I think that we will start off trying to be independent and doing the best we can to assist students without putting any burden on the teacher. But obviously if a teacher wanted that, we would be very much open to collaborating and communicating with the teachers.”

In addition to involving teachers more, Church hopes for Peer Tutoring to become part of a more extensive, formal academic support service at the school.

“Although there are some clear flaws in the program, it’s better than nothing,” Church said. “There are some tweaks that we can make to it to make it even more effective but ultimately Peer Tutoring has to be a small part of a bigger academic support service at this school.”

Novicoff said that many parts of the program still need to be determined, and the coordinators will finalize the plans in upcoming meetings.

“I hope this year we can make the program more professional and more effective,” Peerenboom said. “Last year it was kind of casual and sometimes not very organized, so this year we are trying to become more organized and we are also trying to introduce group tutoring sessions so it’s more easily accessible to a lot of students.”

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