Our first guest poster, Stephen Holland, is back with another great guest post to get you thinking about how tutors can be helpful when teaching in a classroom or blended learning environment. Dr. Holland will be presenting in the first webinar of our Face-to-Face, Blended and Online Teaching and Learning webinar series, which will begin this Friday, September 7. If you would like to hear more from Dr. Holland and our other guest posters, be sure to register for the upcoming series.
In any class of students, teachers know that not all are in the same place in terms of readiness. Thus, instructors often put up the Help Wanted sign and assign students to seek out tutors. However, I suggest thinking of tutors as working under a Help Offered banner. That is, I make it a requirement for all students to work with tutors, not just those who have identifiable problems. Thus, since the help is offered, make every student take advantage of it.
Although students may grumble at first, the advantages far out-weigh the disadvantages, and students will all see the wisdom of this requirement. I have made the requirement for the rough draft stage of any essay assignment in my classes. Now I see a better final product.
Another advantage is that someone other than the teacher is commenting upon the student work in the rough draft stage. Although we can focus on different things, direction on my part to the tutors helps. In addition, students also must start writing a few days ahead of the final deadline in order to interact with tutors, meaning procrastination is less of an issue.
In addition, students gain confidence someone who is trained to comment upon their essays does so. The fear factor is reduced and diminishes one reason why students often hand the essay over to a friend or family member to review. Too often the family member of friend does too much of the rewrite, and this can then lead to complications, such as failing the assignment and maybe even the course. Finally, students themselves are more confident when they submit their final draft for a grade.
Here’s a word to the wise teacher - be sure the students submit what the tutors recommends to them to you. Also require the students to provide answers to questions that demonstrate the changes they have made in line with what the tutor has suggested. This feedback is very useful in engaging with the students. I add questions that demonstrate students have reflected upon the essay’s focus and have addressed technical and structural concerns. I also direct students to ask me to clarify issues that may still confuse them.
If you are in the classroom or a blended learning environment, perhaps your college offers tutorial help in a learning center. If so, invite tutors into the classroom to engage students while working through rough drafts. This helps students to advance as you observe.
To sum up, tutors are a great help but work for coordination with them, the students, and you. In doing so, student receive excellent feedback, and learning outcomes improve.
Steve Holland teaches English and Education classes online through the Iowa Community College Online Consortium (ICCOC). In 2012, the ICCOC honored him as Teacher of the Year. He recently retired after 25 years of teaching with Eastern Iowa Community College, but he continues to teach and serve as an education consultant. He holds a B.A. in journalism, an M.A. in English, an Ed.S. in Education, and an Ph.D. in Education, all through The University of Iowa. He has also served as a judge for Softchalk’s annual Lesson Challenge.