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TEACHING & LEARNING K


eeping students moving forward each day through the curriculum can be a chal-


lenge in the best of circumstances. Faculty across the country, in diverse settings from community colleges to online schools to four-year univer- sities, are finding more and more of the students they teach simply aren’t prepared for college-level work and are not progressing through their courses. According to ACT research, 75 percent of students tested did not meet the College Readiness Benchmarks. Students don’t have the basic math, writing and science skills required for a successful transition to higher education.


Tis skills deficit alone is an ob- stacle in getting students to complete classes and ultimately earn a degree. It is compounded by the overwhelming increase in students on campuses (real and virtual) who are the first in their family to go to college or students who are older and must maintain a job or family responsibilities while navigating school. Schools are responding swiftly to this challenge by offering expanded support to all of their students. New retention models are experimenting with collaborative programs that involve faculty, administrators and counselors. Remedial classes are being replaced with co-requisite courses that bear credit and embed tutoring or additional support into the classroom. More schools are offering online courses that students can take from home. Support outside of the classroom


is crucial. And while offering office hours and peer tutoring is still an important piece of helping students, schools are finding it isn’t enough. Tat’s why online tutoring is being integrated into support services.


24


Online Tutoring: The Answer for Student Retention?


by George Cigale Online tutoring solves several


problems for today’s students. First, because some companies offer 24/7 help, it can fit everyone’s schedule. Students can log in from a desk- top, laptop, mobile phone or tablet during a break from work, while their family is sleeping or on campus in-between classes. Second, the one- to-one, personalized nature benefits students who may be struggling in class and are at risk of falling behind. A tutor works with the student until their question is resolved and the student has thoroughly learned the concept. Tis helps students com- plete assignments on time and stay on track with the class curriculum. Tird, simply knowing that around- the-clock, high quality tutoring is available helps students stay motivat- ed and positive about learning. Tey don’t have to worry when they just “don’t get” an assignment. A tutor will help them move forward. While students can get help in a


broad range of subject areas, typi- cally the most popular subjects are math and writing. When looking at online tutoring options, you want to ensure the online environment is optimized for these types of sessions. Math students and tutors should be able to drag and drop formulas right on the interactive whiteboard, add graphing paper and share relevant web resources. Students who are writing papers find that sharing their work and getting real-time editing is the best way to increase their writing strategies and skill set. Online tutoring services offer students different ways to share or


SEPT/OCT 2012 • TODAYSCAMPUS.COM


review their sessions. Check to see if every session is automatically saved in the student’s personal account and available to print, email or watch again as a video. Students find this a helpful study tool. Sessions should be available to review 24/7 around a student’s schedule. Even with all of these benefits for students, online tutoring can sometimes be a hard sell to faculty. Faculty may be concerned about the tutor qualifications and the experi- ence a student will have in the online environment. “We have a math professor who


was negative at first [about Tutor. com, the university’s online tutor- ing service] and has since become our greatest supporter,” said Debra Smith, Assistant Professor at the Ohio University of Lancaster. “She teaches Math 101 and 103, remedial, and she finds it saves her time be- cause they don’t have to go through homework so heavily, are more com- fortable in class.” One of the reasons the Ohio


University of Lancaster chose Tutor. com was how the company address- es faculty concerns by recruiting and working with experienced, professional tutors who must pass a rigorous application process that includes proving subject matter expertise, comfort in the online environment and completion of a third-party security and background check. After the initial application process, tutors are assigned a mentor who reviews their work and provides professional development to keep their tutoring at a high level.


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