by Chelsea Cabral, Staff Writer
Whether it’s improving your communication, leadership skills, or just gaining new insight on something, peer tutoring is a great avenue to take for both the tutor and the student.
As I embark on my third year of college here at UMass Dartmouth, I often reflect on my experiences here that have shaped who I am as a student. One particular experience is being a writing tutor.
For the last two semesters I was involved with class-based tutoring, which is exactly as it sounds like.
It’s a tutoring program which puts peer tutors inside of the classroom to work with students. It offers the opportunity for a more refined and strengthened tutoring experience outside of the classroom in one-on-one sessions.
Now that class-based tutoring is becoming an integrated part of the Writing and Reading Center this year, it can help offer a more holistic and well-rounded approach to tutoring.
While some students may not realize it, UMass Dartmouth actually offers wonderful resources for helping students succeed academically, ranging from the Star Center in LARTS to the Science and Engineering Center. With all of these great academic resources, it would be a loss not to use them.
Getting some kind of assistance with coursework is always a good idea—no matter when it happens. Even if you need help at the last minute with a paper, or help understanding important concepts, or help studying for a test, tutoring can make all the difference.
However, I would argue that starting early to work regularly with a tutor—especially for a difficult subject—can make a substantial difference.
In my time as a tutor I’ve picked up a few tricks down the road, especially things that have helped me strengthen my own tutoring experiences with students.
I completely understand that some students who come in for tutoring may feel nervous about visiting us, but we as tutors do everything we can to make you feel comfortable and welcome. Whether it’s destressing from a long school day, or cracking a joke before the tutoring session.
It’s important to note that tutoring is an open environment, which is why I like to frequently ask my tutee for their thoughts and questions during the session. Effective communication is key to a good tutoring session.
Of course, it’s also important for me as a tutor to not view each student who visits as “just another tutee,” but as a unique individual with their own strengths and weaknesses.
I try to get to know each student on a personal level, since I have found that my tutees tend to be more comfortable and open with me if they feel like we are on close terms with each other.
Don’t be surprised if tutors ask you questions like: Are you comprehending what’s being taught in class? How do you feel about your writing skills? What would you like to see improved?
These kinds of questions help us gauge your tutoring experience and gives us an insight into how you’re dealing with your studies.
Interacting with my tutees on a one-on-one level establishes a stronger bond, as well as a higher level of trust and respect, which allows me to work with them more efficiently.
One of the more important things I’ve learned as a writing tutor is that everyone is a different kind of learner, whether its auditory, visual, tactile, etc.
It’s key to recognize the best approach to help students understand the material, whether it’s highlighting important key concepts for visual learners or making notecards for tactile learners. Adapting to different learning mechanisms will contribute to the success of the tutoring session.
Lastly, it’s important for students to realize that tutors aren’t here to tear your papers apart with a red pen. We aren’t here to just critique your work, but rather to make the conscious effort to point out all of the good things you do—even if it’s something as mundane as word choice.
There is always room for compliments and reassurance, and that’s something I try to do in all of my sessions: promote positive reinforcement and build confidence in my tutees.
So take this tutor’s advice and take advantage of all the tutoring options on campus. Our main goal is ultimately to see you succeed.
The Writing and Reading Center (WRC) is located in LARTS 219, either call 508-999-8710 or pay them a visit to set up an appointment!
The WRC is part of the Academic Resource Center (ARC), which provides daily tutoring to any UMass Dartmouth student throughout the academic year in each of the three tutoring centers: the WRC, the Math & Business Center, and the Science & Engineering Center.
For more information, please can visit their website.