Learning Commons enhances student support with online tutoring program

Most courses allow students to dip their toes in the water before getting into the core of the class, but in some courses, students can feel like they’re thrown straight into the deep end almost from the beginning. Within a day, some classes have students knee- deep in new vocabulary and foreign concepts.

For those types of classes, the Learning Commons has found a solution: partnering with an online tutoring program, Forward Tutoring, to enhance its regular tutoring program.

This program helps prepare students for courses like biology, chemistry and calculus that often build on basic concepts that some students never solidified before taking them.

Students who need to retake a course they previously dropped may also find Forward Tutoring helpful. This program will allow those students to work at their own pace to understand the material and reinforce concepts through periodic quizzes.

It also utilizes an online whiteboard and chat box so that students will have a visual aid to guide them during their lessons.

Along with helping students improve their basic understanding of these subjects, the new program encourages students to do more volunteer work because students pay for the sessions through community service hours.

“This is the first online method that I have endorsed because I think it speaks to who we are at Guilford,” said Learning Commons Director Melissa Daniel Frink. “When you work in that service learning component, you make it fit in with our values.”

Despite its alignment with Guilford College’s core values, the program has struggled to get enough participation.

“Getting the word out is a little difficult,” said Early College senior Dylan Caskie, a Learning Commons tutor. “Some people are reluctant to sign up for an online tutoring service because they are more used to the traditional tutoring system.”

Others have found that many students are less likely to take preparative measures, instead seeking help only after they receive a poor grade on an assignment.

“It seems like this is a wonderful idea, but I have some reservations about it because of human nature,” said Associate Professor of Mathematics Ben Marlin. “Ideally, before you go take a calculus course, you should go review your trigonometry and algebra, but we have a tendency to not do things in preparation.”

As a result, the online tutors are also working hard to market the new service as a more accessible supplement to the traditional method. They hope students who live off campus and have busy schedules will be able to use this service when they cannot easily reach the Learning Commons.

“Going forward, I hope that we can better integrate the Learning Commons’ traditional tutoring methods with the online tutoring program,” said Early College senior Aditya Garg, Forward Tutoring correspondent. “I hope that everybody at Guilford eventually knows about the opportunity.”

He also hopes more students will become tutors, so this program can really impact the community by increasing math and science literacy and the amount of students involved in service learning.

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