Talking about our work at the Rollins College Student Resource Center, Florida, USA

This is Susie.

We are the peer tutoring program and the Writing Center at Rollins College, Winter Park, Florida, USA.  Welcome to our archives spanning three semesters: spring and fall 2008 and spring 2009.

This space was a virtual extension of the time we spent together, face-to-face, in crash training, staff meetings, specialty group meetings and outings and in projects alone and with other tutors. We went back to using Blackboard in fall 2009, but there is interesting stuff here for new tutors and consultants to read.

Also check out our Rollins College website: http://r-net.rollins.edu/twc

To all new tutors and writing consultants:

BEFORE Monday 8/24 @ 7 p.m. (when our first common training starts), go to www.vark-learn.com and take the VARK learning style inventory (called the questionnaire on the website).

When taking it, remember that you can check more than one answer. We’ll spend some time processing this information in groups on Monday night, then applying it in triads.

There are so many ways to get at how we all learn differently.   The VARK (Visual, Aural, Read/Write & Kinesthetic) is pretty good for being such a quick one, and since it’s on the internet, you can also recommend it to the students you work with.  We have a handout up here in TJ’s that summarizes the help sheets on the website.  Take a look at those, to see if you agree with the results of the test.

Write down your profile (I’m a V, but pretty multi-modal (using all) as well).

Here’s a sampling of items in the quick questionnaire:

(CHOOSE AS MANY AS YOU ACTUALLY LIKE OR WOULD DO)

I like websites that have:

a. interesting written descriptions, lists and explanations.

b. things I can click on, shift or try.

c. audio channels where I can hear music, radio programs or interviews.

d. interesting design and visual features.

Remember a time when you learned how to do something new. Try to avoid choosing a physical skill, eg. riding a bike. You learned best by:

a. written instructions – e.g. a manual or textbook.

b. watching a demonstration.

c. listening to somebody explaining it and asking questions.

d. diagrams and charts – visual clues.

You have to make an important speech at a conference or special occasion. You would:

a. gather many examples and stories to make the talk real and practical.

b. write out your speech and learn from reading it over several times.

c. write a few key words and practice saying your speech over and over.

d. make diagrams or get graphs to help explain things.

…..MO 8/24  First day of classes

5:30-6:30 #1 WRITING CENTER STAFF MEETING new and returning!

6:30-7:00 Pizza and drinks w/ new tutors

7:00-9:30 COMMON TRAINING pt. 1 for new tutors & writing consultants: bring your VARK scores.

…..WE 8/26

5:30-6:30 #1 TUTOR STAFF MEETING, with new and returning tutors

6:30-7:00 Sandwiches with tutors and new writing consultants.

6:30-9:30 COMMON TRAINING pt. 2  for new tutors & writing consultants.

…..TH 8/27 OR TU 9/1

between 12:30-2 (spend 30-40 mins. in this hour and a half doing the TJ’s checklist, incl. TutorTrac, any leftover paperwork, TJ’s people, places, things)

…..MO 8/31

5:30-6:30 #2 WRITING CENTER STAFF MEETING

6:30-7:00 Another bite to eat before specialty training

7:00-9:30 WRITING CENTER TRAINING for new writing consultants and

new tutors in courses w/ much writing (humanities and social sciences)

…..WE 9/2  Tutoring and writing consulting open for business

5:30-6:30 #2 TUTOR STAFF MEETING

6:30-7:00 Another bite to eat before specialty training

7-9: Foreign language specialty tutor training

…..MO 9/7  LABOR DAY!  no nothin’

5:30-6:30 #3 WRITING CENTER STAFF MEETING

…..WE 9/9

5:30-6:30 #3 TUTOR STAFF MEETING

6:30-7:00 Another bite to eat before specialty training

7-9: Quantitative specialty tutor training

Journal #3

To begin with, when observing the amount of tutoring done in the different departments, I don’t find it odd to see chemistry at the top of the list. Chemistry takes a lot of work to do well in and would therefore signify the need for more chemistry tutors. On the other hand, we see theatre and english with low amounts of tutoring. However, both of them went up in amounts for the previous academic year. This either means that students are having difficult in these course, or that we now have proper tutors that can assist clients with their needs.

In the top ten majors based on tutor activity, we see INB and BIO at the top of the list. Students typically need more help in this course due to the specificity and nature of the topics. It’s great to see that TJ’s can deliver to these students and improve their grades and study habits. However, when we look at the lowest amount on the top ten majors, we see a fairly low amount of hours being used up. This shows a significant decrease in the needs of students after the majors of INB and BIO. This shows me that these two programs are the hardest at Rollins and special attention needs to be given to these students to better accommodate them.

Riley journal 4

1. Rank these in order of importance in your work as a tutor. Say why and what aspects, specifically, are important in each area.

q People skills     2

q Content knowledge        3

  1. q TJ’s systems (TutorTrac, Kronos, TJ’s 24, etc.)       6

q Creativity         4

q Communication w/faculty             5

q Knowledge about learning process             1

(So.,.

The most important in this work is knowledge about learning process because in order to teach something you must understand how the student is learning

The 2nd most important is people skills because working with people at all requires that you be comfortable communicating with them.

The 3rd most important is content knowledge because in order to teach something you yourself must have at least a better grasp on the subject matter than the person whom you are teaching.

The 4th most important is creativity because every student is different and you must change you style and approach in order to be as effective as possible for that student.

The 5th most important is is communication with faculty, because you have to understand what the teachers are trying to get across in the classroom in order to help the student in the class.

6th is the TJ’s systems, is very important and helps organize the tutors and more efficiently help the students.

2. Rate yourself in respect to doing your job and following TJ’s systems. Why? In which areas?

Mostly undependable — Sometimes iffy — Mostly Responsible — Super worker

I felt that I followed the TJ’s systems with few problems, logging in and out and filling out my paperwork.  If I had a problem with anything I corrected it and was rarely late to an appointment and always flexible.  My post session paper work was some what weak in my notes section primarily because I wrote many of my notes on students paper in order for it to be easier to see for them.

3. How could TJ’s make your life as a tutor easier or better?

The only thing I think could make things easier is to allow tutors, with in reason, say 6 hours prior or earlier, to change/move/or cancel appointments.  The tutors are students as well and tests and projects may arise and being able to manage their own appointments easier would be convenient.

4. Briefly mention what you learned/discovered from training: crash and staff meetings

I learned how to better help others and even how to improve my own studying, asking myself questions rather than seeing a professor so that I myself understand how a process works and not merely the answer to a single problem.

5. What have you learned on the job as a tutor?

I learned that there are many hard working students that just need a little helping hand and how rewarding it can be to be a tutor, both for helping others and teaching the material to yourself.

6. If you could change one thing about these courses, what would it be?

I  felt that the courses were very effective, however I would love to see professors from each department come and speak to tutors just briefly about what they would like and/or tips on teaching.

7. If you could change one thing about TJ’s systems, what would it be?

The already mention increased availability to change of appointments for tutors, as well as keeping better track of what exactly is going on or happened at an appointment.  This would allow tutors to better prepare and TJ’s and the professors to see what problem areas are.

8. For good or ill, what two things stand out about this year/semester in tutoring?

I receive a comment card/evaluation that made my semester.  Saying that I was the best tutor that the student had had and they felt that I really could explain the subject in a way they got.

9. We are now asking tutor applicants to respond to the challenges they may (will probably, as we know) face on the job. Please answer them yourselves, now that you’ve been tutoring for at least a semester.

What would you do if… (what did you do when…)

…you didn’t know the answer? The student and I searched notes and the book and if we still couldn’t find it I suggested that they see their professor sometime.

…you realize the student did not have the background knowledge he needed to do the work?  I would ask them to read the section in the book and to feel free and ask me if they were stuck on a topic.

…the student is not prepared for the tutoring session? Again I would ask them to read the material for the session and ask me anytime they were confused on a topic.

…the student wanted you to do his/her work for you? I told them to work on it and if they got stuck I would give them hints to help them figure it out for themselves.

Any other challenging situations come to mind? What did you/would you do? I think each department sees various problems that are characteristic of their department, I would suggest that biology tutors reread along side the courses they tutor and that chem tutors get material from the professors to practice problems.

10. If you have been another sort of peer educator (peer mentor, RA, LEAD team, etc), what in that training would you like to see in tutor training? …what in our training would you like to see in that training?

I haven’t been but I feel the basic topics such as teaching the student how to help themselves and not just helping them would be good.

Seeing as the majority of my appointments were in chemistry I focused primarily on chemistry statistics.  The chemistry department has seen a raise in appointments, as this is a challenging department, and many feel that the department strives to become more and more challenging.  Few of my appointments labeled the exact meeting material, something which I both appreciated when the students labeled and feel would be an added important statistic for both the tutors and the professors.  I think that if the material were better kept track of it would be seen that enantiomers, reactions and spectrophotometry were the primary problem areas.  I found it odd that I got so many appointments not surrounding tests, quizzes or assignments, suggesting that student made more appointments based on wanting the comprehend the material better and not just cram for something.

I had many repeat students who chose me whenever I had a tutoring session that fit their time.  I had some students that preferred me for either bio or chem and others for the other subject.  I also experienced “hot spots” in my schedule where I would go a week with one appointment and then have a week where all my hours were full or even where students asked me to tutor them after hours on top of my usual time.  These hot spots occurred sometimes during tests but many times just during times that coincide with difficult lectures in class.

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