Post by: Kelly Mesler ’17, McKenzie Bover ’16, & Molly Perkins ’17
Over the past two semesters Kelly Mesler, McKenzie Bover, & Molly Perkins have been working on creating and implementing the Castleton Tutoring Project. The idea originated from our work in the Language Development course, a Civic Engagement (CE) course here at the university. Throughout the course, we noticed a need in our community for children affiliated with the university. We decided to take advantage of this opportunity and implement a program to address the academic needs of children in our very own community.
We began by researching the needs and benefits of tutoring. We found research that supports the need for tutoring along with many short and long term benefits students and tutors may receive from this program. There are many social benefits along with academic benefits of tutoring, like increased meaningful engagements in classroom learning. Children who utilize tutors have greater progress in school, participate more during class, and complete homework assignments more regularly and frequently than their non-tutored peers. It is obvious that there are many benefits for students who receive tutoring, but we also found a substantial amount of research supporting benefits the tutor receives as well. Tutors profit from the tutoring experience in several ways. Tutors improve leadership skills throughout their tutoring sessions and sessions also solidify their knowledge of a specific topic. Participation in tutoring practices provides them with experience working with children and a deepened understanding of how to help children achieve academic goals. Tutoring programs may enhance the relationship between schools and the community, something we hope to be achieving with our program.
The start up of our program consisted of distributing online and paper preliminary surveys. The results from these surveys indicated that members of the Castleton community are in fact in need of our services! We found parents not only wanted their children tutored, but they also know of others who would benefit from this program. Respondents reported a variety of subjects including math, English, art, secondary language, grammar skills, and even social skills building. Our program is currently targeted at core classes (e.g. Math and English) but we are hopeful we can expand to more subject areas in the future. Meetings, for now, take place in the extra office or conference room of the psychology department, with resources to facilitate tutoring sessions and allow us coordinators to check in regularly.
When choosing tutors, we felt as if education majors were best equipped for tutoring practices and would also benefit from it the most by gaining experience in their field of interest. So far, we have about 10-15 tutors (mostly primary and secondary education majors) who specify in a variety of subject areas and availability. Our tutors are recruited by coordinator (currently Kelly, Molly, and McKenzie) presentation briefly at the beginning of education classes and school-wide emails. We tell students about the program and encourage them to become involved to gain experience and solidify knowledge on particular subjects without having to travel off campus.
Our role as coordinators is to be in contact with the child’s parents, discussing the area of struggle, goals, timing and availability, and be there to discuss any concerns they may have. We also are in charge of matching tutors based on availability and area of academic need. We suggest that students bring homework to work on, but there may be times where that is not possible. In that case, tutors can reach out to professors for materials (promoting agency in the education department) or we will happily do so. We are also responsible for keeping track of tutors and students’ names, availability, and making arrangements accordingly. We are in communication with all parties making sure the sessions are running smoothly and reassuring that we are there for any questions or concerns.
We have created a list of expectations and an agreement to participate to allow for assurance, liability and to keep coordinators active in the experience. In order to maintain a sustainable program and measure the effectiveness of the tutoring services, we utilize pre and post test measures. After collecting consent, students and parents will fill out surveys at the beginning of the first session and end of the last session to measure confidence and degree of enjoyment in the particular subject they are being tutored in. We expect to see an increase in both confidence and enjoyment for students on the particular subject in both students and parents!
Clearly, there is a need for tutoring in the Castleton community. Research supports that tutoring programs in general result in many benefits for both the students and tutors. We hope to bring these benefits to our community with our supervision and organization. Our program can help students get the academic support they need, help parents find reliable tutors, and provide education majors with an outlet to gain experience and academic benefits without having to travel to do so. We hope our project will expand in the future and with the success so far, the future of the Castleton tutoring program is looking bright!