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

Archive for the ‘communicating with profs’ Category

Journal 4, self-appraisal, spring 09

New tutors are working on this final reflection, to send to me online.  But you might be moved to respond to one or more of these questions on this public blog.  Please do.    Here are the questions.  They’re also listed at the end of the Journals! page in the tab at the top of the blog.

Self-appraisal at the end of the first semester of tutoring (final journal for TPJ 107)

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

q Content knowledge

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

q Creativity

q Communication w/faculty

q Knowledge about learning process

(So.,. The most important in this work is… because… The 2nd most important is… because…)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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?

…you realize the student did not have the background knowledge he needed to do the work?

…the student is not prepared for the tutoring session?

…the student wanted you to do his/her work for you?

Any other challenging situations come to mind? What did you/would you do?

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?

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A. Toth, Journal #3: Data

I found the 2001-2008 data pretty interesting.  The total number of appointments and the number of hours of tutoring have increased significantly from ’01 to ’08, but the number of clients has increased more moderately.  Obviously there was a big increase in hours when TJs took over some tutoring from the Bush Science Center.  (Math went from 68 hours in 06-07 to 168 in 07-08.)

Most clients in Fall 2008 had assignments due within a week, and “tomorrow” was pretty common.  I didn’t expect to many “within 2 hours” or “later today” because this would be cutting it pretty close.  It also makes sense because according to the data, most content tutoring is done to improve the clients’ understanding of the concepts.  They are usually not coming in just to put the finishing touches on assignments.  I expected more “later in the semester” assignments but I guess most people don’t plan that far ahead.

The recent data for tutor training hours shows that tutors spend the most time communicating with professors and others, which seems to make sense based on what I’ve seen.  Tutors also spend a lot of time preparing.  I would expect the amount of time a tutor spends reviewing course material should decrease as he/she gets more experience, but some review should always be necessary.

There were surprisingly few hours of tutoring for PHY, PHI, FRN, and several other subjects.  Maybe there are just fewer people studying them.  (There are certainly more people majoring in Chem. than physics.)  Also, maybe the classes that need a lot of tutoring hours are more often used to fulfill Gen. Ed. requirements. 

For my particular area, there seem to be a few people who come in regularly throughout the semester, but there are more who come in only once, twice, or a few times.  I found that most clients tend to see more than one tutor unless there is only one available for his/her specific course.  There are a lot of unscheduled sessions and group meetings.  Of course I expected to see significant demand for this because every now and then there are math projects and big tests.  Many clients seem to find brainstorming in small groups helpful for these things.

Journal #3

  1. “Don’t take absences so seriously. If a student doesn’t come to class, it will show! They will fail themselves if too many missed.” I have never really had a problem with attendance policies at school, as most of my classes have had similar policies and I usually love to go to class. This semester, however I had a class that I hated, and felt like I was wasting my time in class. I knew I had my three grace absences (as most of the classes have), so I figured it wouldn’t kill me to skip a few here and there. Some of my peers, however, felt it would be better to ATTEND a few here and there and found themselves with way more than three absences at the end of the term. Our professor’ policy (which she didn’t tell anyone until the last day of class) was that a student would lose 1 letter grade per each extra absence. Of course, this created an uproar in the class, and one classmate tried to argue the point. She said that we are all adults, and it should be our responsibility to come to class. If we don’t come to class, and we do poorly, than it is our own fault. It shouldn’t be up to the professors to hurt our grade based on our attendance. If we do poorly on work that we turn in, than that should reflect in our grade, but often times, I think participation is something that should only help you, not harm you. 
  1. “Open Student Records for class changes BEFORE classes start.” I have a friend who goes to a big university….their student records office is insanely busy all year long, not just during add/drop or registration. The way their system works now, however, in order to accomodate the growing student body, is that it is now online. Students have access to their classes on a system like Foxlink, but are able to add/drop/change any classes they want, as long as there are no schedule conflicts and the class is available. An electronic notification is sent to their professors each time they change it (they can do it as many times as they want), and the professor just has to accept or deny the request. If the change is accepted, the student never has to stress out about getting papers signed, etc. Imagine all the time and PAPER we’d save moving to an electronic student records office!

Journal 3

During the PEP sessions students talked about things they could do to change Rollins for the better. Many of these ideas were very interesting. Ones that I strongly agree with are hiring more professors so more courses can be offered, more course selection, more options for smaller majors, and opening student records for schedule changing before classes start. Things that I don’t think are as necessary to enhance Rollins are having a community service requirement for graduation, and having rewards for good grades. The list covered a whole bunch of different areas so I can’t think of anything to add to the list that isn’t already on it.

The first thing that I think really needs to be changed is hiring more professors so more courses are available and it is easier to complete course requirements. Right now at Rollins, I feel that it is really hard to get into courses that fulfill general education requirements. Usually there are a lot of people trying to get into these types of courses because everyone is required to take them. Therefore it makes it really hard for people to get general education requirements. I know it personally took me 4 semesters to get into a course that I wanted to take because it went toward a general education requirement. The fact that there are limits to how many students are allowed in each class makes it even harder for students to get into classes. However, if more professors were hired more courses could be offered. It would even make it easier if there were multiple times offered for the same course therefore popular course could accommodate more people. Since I have been here I haven ‘t really seen any department offering more courses for students. I think the administration could help make theses changes possible. If the school thought they wanted more courses because students weren’t able to get into courses they wanted than Rollins might actually decide to offer more classes. However I do understand that hiring more professors would cost the school quite a bit of money, so I am sure it would be hard for them to hire more professors without increasing the cost of tuition or something similar.

Another thing I agree with is that there should be more options available to those who are in smaller majors. I know personally for my major not every course is offered every semester, and usually only one course is offered for the upper level courses so if it doesn’t fit in your schedule you are screwed. However if there were more options than it would be easier for students to complete their majors. Right now if you can’t take a class one semester than you probably would have to wait a year or more to take it. This problem could also be solved by hiring more professors. Also, it seems to me that in my major there are way more general education requirements offered than other courses. Which takes professors away from teaching the upper level classes cause they have to teach the lower level classes. I think Rollins should really try to fix this problem. If they did they may get more students majoring in different areas than just a lot of students majoring in a few areas and few students majoring in other areas. Again this problem could be solved by hiring more professors, and if the administration recognized it as a problem they could take steps to do something about it.

The fall tutor lineup. You in? Who else?

Recruiting is starting…and besides me and your professors asking students to tutor, you all can talk it up with your classmates. You guys know what being up here really involves. Be thinking of which of your fellow students would be good up here. Who would appreciate more opportunities to learn? …more insight into both the course content and the learning process that you all have developed while working at TJ’s?

Why tutor?

Hello everyone! As an “veteran” science major I fell it is my duty to help out those just starting out! As a tutor I can offer my experiences and my knowledge to anyone seeking advice. Also, I believe communicating with profs is the best way to facilitate learning however, everyone seems to be a little intimidated or hesitant to do this. As a tutor, I can asure nervous students that profs don’t bite! Also, I can offer hope to any struggling student. I was there once too. And, last but least, I tutor because it keeps me fresh with past material.    

How to describe ourselves to future tutors/consultants

We are producing a handout with a blurb about each program, and that’s what I’d like your input on… Here’s a draft. What else should we include??? It has to stay short, always hard for moi. CHANGES IN BOLD.
Peer educators at TJ’s: Tutors are specialists who work within their majors or minors with courses they’ve taken and the professors they know teaching them. Tutors help students adjust reflect on their own and others’ learning styles and strategies to better help students adjust to course demands–tests, homework, papers, etc. Writing consultants are generalists, expert readers who talk with writers across the curriculum at any stage of the writing process, from brainstorming a topic to structuring an argument to editing a final draft. Both groups earn academic credit for training courses and pay for time spent helping students. Both groups offer six hours of appointments a week, in a very flexible schedule. Some tutors are busier than others; writing consultants are often booked solid from after mid-terms on.

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