March 31, 2011

20 Year YMCA After-school tutoring program taken over by school district

by Erin Cargile, Originally published on 3/18/11 on

Pflugerville to run its own program to make money

To make more money in tight times, the Pflugerville school district has decided to run its own after-school program next year and end its contract with the YMCA.

The two have worked together more than 20 years.

Currently, more than 65 counselors with the YMCA of Greater Williamson County are divided among 16 elementary campuses within in Pflugerville Independent School District. They help about 900 students with homework, tutoring and have special planned activities for the children to play.

“It has been more than a privilege to work with them,” said Jeff Andresen, president of the YMCA of Greater Williamson County. “We know the financial difficulties have caused them to make the business decisions they have to make. It’s been a good relationship, and these things are never easy.”

The district is trying to close a $20 million shortfall, due at least in part, to state budget cuts. According to spokeswoman Amanda Brim, running the after school program in house will generate an extra $1 million.

“The Y is making a good profit on this program. We can capitalize on that profit and help the district maybe save some jobs in the process,” said Superintendent Charles Dupre of the Pflugerville Independent School District. “No one is happy we’re having to make these hard choices, but we’ve got to look first look at our role as being good stewards of the tax dollars.”

To read the full story click here.

Filed under: Academic Learning Centers,Community

March 26, 2011

Andragogy vs Pedagogy: The Tutoring Difference

by Crossroads of Learning, publisher of the “Tutoring Foundations” curriculum available in classroom based workbook as well as self-paced on-line formats

The following content is excerpted from course 1008

At this point, a brief discussion of pedagogy versus andragogy is applicable. Typically classroom instruction is pedagogical. In other words, the teacher is in control of the class, all information, the method of delivering that information and all class activities. The teacher is driving the class toward specific goals as outlined by the teacher, usually as prescribed by the school districts’ or institution’s curriculum committee.

Tutoring, on the other hand, is essentially andragogical. In this scenario, the student and the facilitator (the tutor) are equal partners in the learning experience. While the tutor structures the tutorial session and always has an outline in mind for what needs to be accomplished during each session,  the student has an equal say in how the session progresses, at what speed and in how the information is delivered.

An andragogical approach is often more effective for many students. So why don’t teachers use andragogical methods in the classroom. The truth is that many do at the upper levels of education, but the classroom size, time constraints, curriculum requirements, and overall k-12 structure are more conducive to the pedagogical approach and as such, that is the major philosophy of much of our education system.

Click here to read more.

Filed under: Tutoring Practices

March 23, 2011

Homework Helper or Tutor?

By Stephanie Graham, originally published by Today’s TMJ4 on  3/20/11

When a child struggles with class work, parents often turn to tutors.  But what if your child’s problem is more about staying on top of their studies, and less about understanding them?  It might be time for a Homework Helper.

Nick Tanteri spends his afternoons like many other children, searching for solutions to his homework. But in his case, it’s not his parents watching over his shoulder.  He has a homework helper.  While tutors generally focus on teaching a particular topic, homework helpers are more like monitors. Tim Levin hires out homework helpers, and says it’s about getting the student motivated and organized.

Levin explains a homework helper is there to ask basic questions:  “Is there an assignment pad?  Have you written down your assignments?  Do you know what’s due tomorrow and do you know what’s due the next week, and how complete are you doing these assignments?”

Some educators are concerned about the trend, worried it takes parents out of the mix, and stops kids from becoming independent learners. But Levin says there are many good reasons parents turn to the service.

“A–they’re dealing with other kids.  B-they’re at work late or maybe, C-they just don’t know how to do it,” Levin suggests.

To read the full story click here.

Filed under: Commercial Providers,Tutoring Practices

March 8, 2011

Professors and tutoring services vie for students’ attention

by Krystal Nimigian, for the battalion online, originally published on 2/16/11

In one corner sit the seasoned, professionally hired instructors who are exclusive to Texas A&M University. In the opposite corner sit College Station’s well-versed tutors. The winner’s prize? The attention and time of students.

The tension between the two groups is obvious, but why does it exist?

“A lot of [the professors] are decent, nice people. But there are a few that go out of the way to make things difficult. I’ve heard stories from students of teachers who say, you go to tutoring, and I will fail you,” said John Forsyth, or “Tutor John”. Forsyth said that when he finds this to be the case, he advises his students to keep their extra help low key. “I’ve been doing this [tutoring] for 15 to 20 years. After that time period, you get a good feel for what is in the class, what the teachers are going to do, that sort of thing,” he said.  Forsyth explained that some methods students are taught in his sessions, are not to be written on the test because professors might count it wrong.

“In math, there are always multiple solutions, multiple ways to get the right answer. Some professors think, ‘It’s my way or it’s wrong.’ These are the people that let the power of teaching go to their heads. Some of the instructors don’t know the material very well,” he said. Forsyth noted that because some professors are in the dark due to unfamiliarity with the material, they deem an answer incorrect when student methods vary.

Junior biomedical sciences major Edward Vazquez said that his experiences with off-campus tutors have been enjoyable. It was very helpful, fast-paced and practically a lifesaver,” Vazquez said. Statistics professor Julie Carroll earned her bachelor’s in mathematics and master’s in industrial engineering and statistics from Texas A&M. Carroll explained that an open lab is available for the statistics sections. There, students can meet with graduate students to ask questions. With the number of accessible graduate students and times, more than 60 hours of assistance are available per week.

“Some people don’t like it,” Carroll said about the tutor-professor relationship. “I’m sure Tutor John has made lots of money off of me, but I can’t stop it. This is the second half of my 19th year teaching at A&M, so I have been at this awhile. Longer than Tutor John.”

With so much free professorial assistance so readily accessible, some professors display a level of frustration as students go to tutors for help.

To read the full story, click here.

Filed under: Academic Learning Centers,Business Practices,College,Commercial Providers,Tutoring Practices


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