June 30, 2011

West Hills CC turns to online tutoring service

By Heather Somerville, originall published on 5/11/11 in The Fresno Bee

Outsourcing has infiltrated the college classroom.

When some students at West Hills Community College turn in their work, it’s forwarded to an anonymous tutor hunched over a computer in Bangalore or San Diego, or somewhere in between. No one at West Hills seems to know who or where the tutors are, or how they’re qualified. Administrators and teachers say it doesn’t matter; with the tutors’ help, students’ writing and math skills are improving.

But educators across the nation argue that such services devalue teachers, threaten student-teacher relationships, undermine students’ education and pose ethical quandaries. “It’s a creepy-crawly thing,” said Marilyn Valentino, an English professor at Lorain County Community College in Ohio and a national authority on college composition instruction. “You’ll [eventually] go to one master syllabus and one teacher, and all these invisible people behind computers.”

But online tutors will never take teachers’ jobs at West Hills, said Susan Whitener, associate vice chancellor of educational planning, not “by any stretch of the imagination.”

Online on the Rise

Online tutoring services are on the rise as colleges and universities deal with budget cuts. In some cases, full-time faculty have been replaced with part-time teachers. Teddi Fishman, director of the International Center for Academic Integrity, said the part-time teachers, many of whom have other jobs, are assisted by online tutors.  Also, some students take online courses and seldom come to campus.

In 2006, West Hills hired RichFeedback, a Virginia-based online education assessment company, to give teachers one more low-cost option to help students who lack basic math and writing skills. Administrators say students who use the virtual tutoring service are more likely to stay in school and make better grades. RichFeedback hasn’t been widely used by West Hills faculty. Only 2% sent classwork to the virtual tutors this year — all in online classes, Whitener said.

To read the full story click here.

Filed under: Distance Learning,Technology,Tutoring Practices

June 26, 2011

Tutoring changes student goals in Durham

By Carly Stephenson, originally published on 5/5/11 in ressesnews

One year ago, eighth-grader Ariany Ramos-Redondo became a part of the K to College Program at the Emily K Center in Durham. “For me, it’s a second home,” Ariany said.  “I have friends here who are like my family. The tutors are like my family, too.” Tutoring changes student goals in Durham. But it’s not a tutoring program or a baby-sitting service.

The program provides individualized learning plans to 110 academically focused kids who qualify for the free and reduced lunch program.  The center recruits a majority of its students through recommendations from teachers, principals and guidance counselors in the Durham school system.

Students like Ariany might not have access to private tutors and college prep courses, and the center provides a means to help students reach their academic goals.  While health care, food and housing are important concerns for families who are struggling to make ends meet, education is another valuable resource that can help turn lives around.

Michael Krzyzewski or “Coach K”, the well-known Duke University men’s basketball coach, built the center and christened it with his mother’s name, Emily. As the son of two parents who emigrated from Poland, Krzyzewski grew up in the North Side of Chicago in a poor neighborhood.  As a student, he spent time at a North Side community center developing his talent for basketball.  Because the community center strongly influenced his life, Krzyzewski decided to give students in the Durham community a similar opportunity.

Executive director Adam Eigenrauch, who has worked at the center for five years, explained how access to out-of-school learning helps the Durham community. “The best way to combat the cycle of poverty is to . . . help students create opportunities for themselves that no one in their family has had yet. And certainly when you’ve earned a college degree you’ve gained a tool, you’ve gained leverage that presumably has not existed in your family at that point.”

To read the full story click here.

Filed under: Academic Learning Centers,Community,Leadership

June 13, 2011

AmeriCorps Tutor Makes a Difference

Originally published in “The Pilot” on 5/14/11

While the dictionary definition for literacy is the ability to read, write and comprehend, to Amanda Comer, it means much more. It means the confidence to express thoughts, feelings and ideas and to share these gifts with others.

Comer promotes literacy through her work with basic skills at Sandhills Community College as a member of AmeriCorps. This national service program provides opportunities for adults of all ages and backgrounds to serve through a network of partnerships with local and national nonprofit groups.

“AmeriCorps has many different branches, depending on your service interest,” Comer says. “As part of the education branch, I am in the Literacy Corps. Its local program is the Student Coalition for Action in Literacy Education (SCALE), which is based at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. I provide direct service literacy tutoring and instruction to adults, adolescents and English language learners within Basic Skills programs including general educational development (GED), adult basic education (ABE), compensatory education, and English as a second language (ESL).”

Comer provides one-on-one tutoring and leads small group classes on the Pinehurst campus, at the Hoke Center and at Pinetree Community Services. She has also helped the college with leading new student orientations and participating in college-wide events to promote basic skills.

“I have participated and coordinated National Identity Day service projects for AmeriCorps with the focus on promoting literacy within the community,” she says.

To read the full story click here.

Filed under: Academic Learning Centers,Community,Government

June 6, 2011

Peer coaching at Summit High School: a win-win

Originally published on nj.com on 5/5/11

A peer coaching program at Summit High School is proving beneficial to both learner and teacher alike.

The before- and after-school program, which began during the school’s second quarter, is different from other tutoring opportunities available at the school. In this program, students have scheduled appointments to receive one-on-one coaching from upperclassmen, explains instructional facilitator, Jennifer DeAngelis, who conceived of the program with teacher Emily Dura and transition coordinator Pat Walsh.

Assistance is not limited to one specific subject. Coaches are able to help their partners with multiple subjects, and can also provide organizational and test preparation assistance. What began as a partnership between senior Melanie Reach and a freshman student seeking help with her homework has grown into a larger project.

“When I had heard about Melanie’s work, I realized that other students in the building could serve a similar role for freshmen,” says DeAngelis. “Participation is voluntary on the part of the underclassmen, but our coaches are recommended by their teachers. “We have a core group of about a dozen students who are committed to providing – and receiving – help through the program.”

Most of the students being coached are freshmen. The upperclassmen who volunteer their time to coach are matched with their partners based on their availability as well as their particular strengths in academic and study skills.

“The program also provides an additional resource for the freshmen students to learn about the school community and freshman curriculum,” says DeAngelis. “They’re meeting older students, who they might not have had a chance to meet otherwise.” She adds that the younger students have found it refreshing not to have to always go to a teacher when they seek additional help.

To read the full story click here.

Filed under: Academic Learning Centers,High School,Peer-Tutoring

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