Hanover College Tutor Training Manual 2014-15

 

 

 

Mission Statement and Learning Outcomes

With its mission statement, an organization boils down all its goals and intentions into one sentence that states its purpose. Here is the Learning Center’s:

We support students in the transformative process of becoming life-long learners by helping them acquire the essential tools for intellectual exploration, meaningful engagement, personal empowerment, and academic excellence.

In even shorter terms, we help students gain the tools to EXPLORE, ENGAGE, EMPOWER, and EXCEL. We don’t just help a student fix a thesis or finish a set of homework problems; we give them the skills to flourish as a writer and/or problem solver in the future, both at Hanover and in the world beyond.

Our learning outcomes explain in more detail how we are going to accomplish our mission and goals. How will we know if we are succeeding, and what will those results look like? The overall learning objectives of the Learning Center are:

Through interaction with Learning Center staff and programs, students will improve their levels of academic success and gain skills for lifelong inquiry and transformative learning. The Learning Center students will help students to:

  • clearly understand, articulate and apply course content and engage in higher-order thinking, both within and across disciplines;

  • define and analyze their own learning styles, strengths, and weaknesses so that they can engage course content and all other types of information in ways that are most effective for them; and

  • identify and apply the foundational techniques that promote academic efficiency and excellence, including methods for unpacking texts and solving problems, effective note-taking strategies for readings and class discussion, and time management and study skills.

The Learning Center will measure these objectives through a variety of both qualitative and quantitative methods, including surveys of student and faculty satisfaction and the comparison of grades and other indicators of academic success for students who have used the Learning Center versus those who have not.

The Role of the Tutor

In the language of the Learning Center, you will see both “peer mentor” and “peer tutor” used to describe your duties as a center staff member.  The center’s mission statement and learning outcomes lay out the foundational need for both terms.  Traditionally, the word “tutor” conjures images of a diligent student who spends his evenings answering questions about homework problems or proofreading papers. A mentor, on the other hand, is an individual who serves essentially as an embodiment of experience, giving advice and guidance based on that experience to another individual in need. 

We must use both terms to properly capture your responsibility as a Learning Center employee.  At times you will serve instrumental, academic functions such as addressing homework concerns and guiding students in paper revision.  However, you will also have the more encompassing duty of guiding students through their academic lives at Hanover College, offering your experience and advice on topics ranging from technical skills to the more abstract talents of time management, effective study, and active participation in class and campus life.

As you begin your work as a peer tutor/mentor, it is important to understand your complex and rewarding role. While you do not have the authority of a professor to evaluate students, you have valuable experience and training to offer them, so you may act as a teacher of certain skills.  While you do not have the training to serve as a psychological counselor of students, you may need to see through what appear to be technical, academic issues and help your fellow students understand and cope with their scholastic and personal difficulties. You are not strictly a peer or classmate to whom a student in need can go for quick answers or the latest gossip. Instead, you will serve as a mediator and translator guiding students as they make the transition to college and helping them learn how to be a successful student and member of the academic community.  

As you can see, you serve an integral yet complex role within the framework of higher education.  You are not a professor, but you will help people to learn.  You are not a psychologist, but you may be called upon to provide support and guidance.  You are not a buddy, but you can do your best work if your fellow students see you as a friend and mentor.  As you continue in your training and in your work with the Learning Center, keep in mind the complexity of your role. If you have questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to ask the center director, a faculty member in your department, or a lead tutor for help. 

The Goals of Tutoring

The following six goals of tutoring come from The Master Tutor: A Guidebook for More Effective Peer Tutoring by Ross B. MacDonald (Cambridge Stratford Study Skills Institute 2000).  They summarize nicely the responsibilities and boundaries of college-level peer tutors and mentors:

            1.  Promote independence in learning

            2.  Personalize instruction

            3.  Facilitate tutee insights into learning and learning processes

            4.  Provide a student perspective on learning and school success

            5.  Respect individual differences

            6.  Follow a job description

If you are a veteran tutor, you have probably seen all these goals manifest themselves in your work in many different ways.  If you are a new tutor, you will have the opportunity to work toward these goals and personalize them for yourself and for your mentees each day you report to work at the Center.

Above all, the tutor ought to be a facilitator of students’ academic independence.  You will have to work carefully and thoughtfully to design your own methods of facilitating such independence.  A good starting point for honing this ability is to make use of the Socratic method of instruction, which is founded on the mentor’s asking questions of the mentee that will inspire the student to create his own solutions and come to his own conclusions. We will talk more about effective questioning, active listening, and other tutoring techniques both during the August training sessions and throughout the year.

As a peer mentor, you can combine this method with specific skills in your discipline(s) of expertise to fulfill the primary goal of peer tutoring.  If you are an English tutor, you should help a writer learn to improve his or her own writing.  If you are a Spanish tutor, you should help a student develop his or her own confidence and fluency in writing, speaking, and hearing Spanish.  If you are a chemistry tutor, you should review basic principles but help students to solve problems for themselves. 

If you keep in mind that the primary purpose of your work as a peer mentor is to help students improve their own skills and become better learners, you can keep yourself from succumbing to the temptation to mark up English papers, give answers to chemistry problems, and finish sentences for struggling Spanish speakers.   

 

 

Job Descriptions

There are many types of peer tutors at Hanover. Some specialize in one academic discipline, such as Spanish, economics, or chemistry while others are what we call “generalists,” humanities tutors who are ready to tackle any paper or presentation that comes their way. In addition to working open hours, many tutors also serve as one-on-one, long-term mentors who will work with students on overall academic success skills. Each year, a few upper-level tutors are tapped to act as supervisors during open hours and to mentor their fellow subject-area tutors, passing along their wisdom to new generations at the Learning Center. Finally, some truly accomplished tutors perform multiple functions at the center, amazing us with their ambidextrous abilities to tutor in multiple and sometimes very different subject areas.

Here are the job descriptions for the main categories of Learning Center tutors:   

 

1. Peer Tutor/Mentor - Generalist

Job Summary: Peer Tutor/Mentors help their fellow students with assignments from a wide range of humanities classes. They help with papers and presentations, research projects and reflective assignments, and even independent studies and personal statements for jobs and grad school. They also mentor students to help them improve their overall time management and study skills, working with first-year students and students on probation to assist in their adjustment to college-level academic expectations.

Essential Functions:

  • Help students with writing, speaking, and other assignments during walk-in hours and/or weekly one-on-one assignments
  • Help students with time management, study skills, and college-adjustment issues

Other Responsibilities:

  • Document tutoring sessions using electronic reporting system
  • Consult with professors in tutoring area
  • Attend 8 hours of tutor training each August
  • Attend regular staff meetings
  • Respond promptly to all communication from senior tutors and full-time staff
  • Notify professor and/or Learning Center permanent staff of any concerns or problems
  • Other duties as needed

Job Qualifications:

  • Recommendation by a subject-area professor
  • Excellent GPA
  • Successful interview with Learning Center director

Work Hours: 4 to 8 hours per week

2. Peer Tutor/Mentor – Subject-Area Tutor

Job Summary: Subject Area Tutor/Mentors help their fellow students with content knowledge, assignments, professor expectations, and study skills for a specific class or discipline. They assist students during open hours and/or through ongoing one-on-one assignments. Subject-area tutoring assignments include but are not limited to calculus, statistics, economics, biology, chemistry, geology, physics, and kinesiology and integrated physiology.

Essential Functions:

  • Help students in a particular course or discipline with content knowledge, problem-solving skills, homework assignments, professor expectations, study skills and other academic success strategies.

Other Responsibilities:

  • Document tutoring sessions using electronic reporting system
  • Consult with professors in tutoring area
  • Attend 8 hours of tutor training each August
  • Attend regular staff meetings
  • Respond promptly to all communication from senior tutors and full-time staff
  • Notify professor and/or Learning Center permanent staff of any concerns or problems
  • Other duties as needed

Job Qualifications:

  • Recommendation by a subject-area professor
  • Excellent GPA
  • Successful interview with Learning Center director

Work Hours: 4 to 8 hours per week

3. Peer Tutor/Mentor – World Languages Tutor

Job Summary: World Languages tutors assist students with all aspects of their language class. They explain grammatical structures, teach learning strategies for memorizing vocabulary, review grammar vocabulary and content to help students prepare for exams.  They assist students in developing their reading comprehension skills and help them prepare for presentations and oral exams. They work during walk-in hours and/or in one-on-one assignments.

Essential Functions:

  • Help students with homework.
  • Teach learning strategies to memorize vocabulary
  • Explain grammatical structures.
  • Review grammar, vocabulary and content for presentations and oral exams
  • Assist students in developing their reading comprehension skills.

Other Responsibilities:

  • Document tutoring sessions using electronic reporting system
  • Consult with professors in tutoring area
  • Attend 8 hours of tutor training each August
  • Attend regular staff meetings
  • Respond promptly to all communication from senior tutors and full-time staff
  • Notify professor and/or Learning Center permanent staff of any concerns or problems
  • Other duties as needed

Job Qualifications:

  • Recommendation by a World Languages professor
  • Excellent GPA
  • Successful interview with Learning Center director

Work Hours: 4 to 8 hours per week

4. Guided Study Group Leader

Job Summary: Guided Study Group Leaders help students master a specific class by holding regular study group sessions for students in that class. They focus on understanding major concepts, developing effective problem-solving techniques, understanding professors’ expectations, and mastering the language of the discipline. They do not lecture or re-teach the material, but focus on asking questions to harness the power of the group and help direct students toward finding their own answers.

Essential Functions:

  • Hold two one-hour study group sessions per week
  • Attend class and lab as-needed basis
  • Prepare for sessions in advance (review chapter, homeworks, etc.)
  • Help students with time management, study skills, and college-adjustment issues

Other Responsibilities:

  • Document study group and tutoring sessions using electronic reporting system
  • Meet regularly with course professor and other study group leaders
  • Promote study group sessions through class and lab visits, email, etc.
  • Work any assigned open hours
  • Attend eight hours of tutor training each August
  • Attend regular staff meetings
  • Respond promptly to all communication from senior tutors and full-time staff
  • Notify professor and/or Learning Center permanent staff of any concerns or problems
  • Other duties as needed

Job Qualifications:

  • Recommendation by a subject-area professor
  • Excellent GPA
  • Successful interview with Learning Center director             

Work Hours: 4 to 8 hours per week

5. Lead Tutor/Mentor: Shift Supervisor

Job Summary: Lead Tutor/Mentors serve as greeters and shift supervisors for open-hours shifts and as mentors for the tutors in their subject area. They manage traffic flow, assigning incoming students to tutors in the required subject area, call in additional tutors when needed, and make referrals when a tutor in a specific subject area is unavailable. They also perform the same basic functions as regular Learning Center tutor/mentors, helping students with assignments and time management and study skills in their designated disciplines.

Essential Functions:

  • Oversee day-to-day operation of open hours shifts
  • Greet walk-ins as they arrive at center and assign them to an appropriate tutor
  • If the appropriate tutor is not in the center, call or make contact with one who can come in or who can make an appointment with the student to meet as soon as possible.
  • Assign walk-ins in an equitable and efficient manner. (No tutor should be doing all of the work, or no work at all.)
  • Call in additional tutors as needed.
  • Troubleshoot issues, problems, questions as they arise
  • Report issues, problems, questions and concerns to full-time staff
  • Assist with development and delivery of training for tutors
  • Mentor new and returning tutors in subject area
  • Help promote the Learning Center and increase center visibility
  • Act as liaison between subject-area tutors and the center’s full-time staff
  • Organize team building events
  • Help students with work in their designated disciplines
  • Help students with time management, study skills, and college-adjustment issues

Other Responsibilities:

  • Document tutoring sessions using electronic reporting system
  • Consult with professors in tutoring area
  • Attend 10 hours of tutor training each August
  • Attend regular staff meetings
  • Respond promptly to all communication from tutors and full-time staff
  • Notify Learning Center permanent staff of concerns or problems
  • Other duties as needed

Job Qualifications:

  • Recommendation by a subject-area professor
  • Excellent GPA
  • Must be current Learning Center tutor
  • Successful interview with Learning Center full-time staff

Work Hours: 4 to 8 hours per week

 

 

 

 

The Ethics of Tutoring:

Job Responsibilities and Standards

Over the course of your time as a tutor, you will work with your fellow students, with professors, and with the center’s full-time staff. At all times, tutors have a responsibility to adhere to the following guidelines.

Reporting Your Tutoring Sessions:

It is your responsibility to account for all the time you spend working for the Learning Center by completing on-line session reports. Tutoring reports detail the name(s) of the student(s), the professor, the class, the type of session (walk-in, one-on-one, guided study group, etc.), topics covered during the session and other pertinent details. These reports are vital in helping the center make decisions about staffing, budgets and logistics. Failure to account for your time will result in delayed pay and/or disciplinary action.

In addition to the tutoring session reports, tutors are responsible for recording administrative time while on the clock. Administrative time includes time spent waiting for an appointment, a study group, a student to tutor during open hours or time spent entering your session reports.

Instructions for completing a tutoring session or administrative report:

  • Visit the Learning Center database by typing “lc” in your browser address bar while on-campus.  The database is not accessible from off-campus.  The actual web address is lc.hanover.edu.

  • Enter your username and password, which are the same as your campus email account.

  • Once you are logged into the database, you will have 3 options: “ADD Individual Visit,” “ADD Group Visit,” or “ADD Administrative Time.”

  • Use “ADD Individual Visit” for a single student tutoring session.  This would include walk-ins during open hours, one-on-ones or any tutoring session by appointment with a single tutee.

  • Use “ADD Group Visit” if you tutored more than one person at a time for the same class. This option would be used for any Guided Study Group, a study group organized by a tutor, or a walk-in group (2 or more students).  This form allows you to enter more than one student for the same tutoring sessions/study group so you only have to complete a report once.

  • When using “ADD Individual Visit” or “ADD Group Visit,” you will need the name of the student(s), the class for which tutoring occurred and the professor.  These three pieces of information are vital. Obtain this information from the student before the tutoring session ends and the student departs.

  • Once you complete the student, class and professor information, choose the type of tutoring session. 

Individual:

    • Walk-in – for a single student coming to open hours
    • One-on-One – used ONLY for a tutee assigned to you by Learning Center staff
    • By Appointment – for a tutoring session which takes place outside open hours with a single student.

Group:

    • Walk-In Group – for any group of students coming to open hours together for the same class
    • Scheduled Group – for any group or study session organized by a tutor
    • Guided Study Group –used only for CHE, BIO, MAT and KIP study groups led by a tutor but organized by Learning Center staff

  • Once you choose the type of session, please complete the form by providing pertinent information about the session. Use the “other” field if you do not find an appropriate explanation in the choices provided.

  • At the bottom of the report you will find “This Appointment Start Time” and “This Appointment End Time.” This is the date stamp for the tutoring session. The report cannot be submitted until these fields are complete.

  • Hit “Save Changes” to complete the report.

  • Use “ADD Administrative Time” to record any time spent on the clock when you were not tutoring.  This would include training, filling out your online session reports, time spent during open hours without anyone to tutor, waiting for an appointment or study group, preparation for a study group session, attending a lab or meeting, visiting a GW class, etc.

  • Choose the type of administrative time from the choices provided.  An explanation is required if you choose the “other” option or if further details are necessary.

  • Hit the “submit” button to complete the report.

Here is an example of a typical open hours shift and the reports you would complete. You work a two hour shift in the Learning Center where you spend a total of 40 minutes tutoring two different students.  The remaining time was spent doing your own homework and/or socializing. You would create three session reports for this shift, one for each tutoring session using the “ADD Individual Visit” and one for your downtime of 1 hour and 20 minutes using the “ADD Administrative Time” option choosing “Open Hours.”

If you have any questions regarding the completion of online reports, please ask any Learning Center staff member or your Lead Tutor. It is your responsibility to keep up to date with your reporting.  At the end of every month, session reports will be reviewed alongside time clock hours.

 

 

 

Policies and Procedures:

The Nuts and Bolts

Regarding Students:    

  • Follow the Golden Rule: Always be interested, kind, and attentive. Treat those you are tutoring (and your fellow tutors!) as you would wish to be treated.
  • Avoid tutoring close personal relationships (boy/girlfriends, roommates, classmates with the same assignment, unless your professor has approved the tutoring)
  • Always respect the confidentiality of the tutoring relationship (See Students’ Right to Privacy: FERPA Basics).
  • If a student is struggling with issues outside the classroom, help them make a connection with Student Life, Health Services, the school’s mental health counselors, Financial Aid, or other resources on campus that might help them.
  • Be aware of boundaries. Do not ask questions of a personal nature unless they relate to the academic assignment. Avoid flirting and/or overly familiar behavior with students you are tutoring.
  • Avoid judgmental, critical responses to student work. Be careful not to assert your own biases regarding content. Instead, focus on logic and the development of argument and structure.
  • If you are disturbed or concerned by an interaction with a student for any reason (possible cheating or plagiarism, concerns about safety, etc.), report it immediately to a senior tutor or full-time staff member.
  • Tutors have the right to feel safe at the center and to end a tutoring relationship or decline an assignment if the student is problematic. If someone who you are tutoring is repeatedly combative, makes you uncomfortable, or pushes boundaries, please inform a senior tutor or the full-time staff ASAP.

Regarding Professors:

  • Avoid offering suggestions or predictions about grades.
  • Avoid offering negative opinions about professors’ comments on assignments. It is fine to affirm or agree and help students’ understand comments and grades, but if you have no constructive insights, remain silent.
  • Encourage students to talk with their professors about their concerns regarding grades and comments. Helping them to open channels of communication is one of the best things you can do.
  • Communicate regularly with professors of your one-on-ones. Often they will have good suggestions for ways you can better help the student.

Regarding the Learning Center and LC Staff:

  • Be diligent about bookkeeping and accounting issues. Fill out a session report in the on-line tracking system for each person you tutor. Tracking accurately is vital part of your job and helps us do a better job in advocating for the center’s budget and in making sure we have the right number of tutors to work at the right times.
  • Doing your homework during open hours is a privilege, not a right. Each tutor is responsible for taking a fair share of the walk-in traffic in his or her subject area. If the evening is slow, you are welcome to break out your own books, but you must put them down when it is your turn to take an assignment. Manage your time wisely. Do not expect to be given a pass on tutoring because you have your own homework to complete.
  • Respond promptly to communications from fellow tutors and full-time staff. Emails, phone calls, and text messages requesting help are often time sensitive. It is hard to determine the next step when the majority of tutors emailed have simply not responded. Help us avoid shouting into the void. It is your responsibility to answer requests for help, even if the answer is “No.” 
  • Use your down time constructively to benefit the center. If there is no walk-in traffic, work on fliers or other promotional ideas, check out the website, read about your discipline, write some tutoring tips or Words of Wisdom for your subject area, clean, organize, and/or make a list of supplies.

Attendance and Punctuality:

To maintain a productive work environment, you are expected to be reliable and to be punctual in reporting to scheduled work.  Absences and tardiness are to be discouraged.  The normal functioning of the center suffers when tutors are late or absent.  Excessive absences and tardiness will lead to disciplinary action.

If you do need to be absent, it is your responsibility to find a suitable substitute and inform the lead tutor on staff for your shift.  A suitable substitute is another tutor who can work within your same discipline.  Also, provide at least a half day advance notice to your lead tutor if you are unable to find a suitable substitute.  Providing notice of your absence 30 minutes before your shift begins is not acceptable. 

Disciplinary Action

Although the Learning Center’s normal practice is to help identify problems and help the tutors improve performance and behavior, the Director of the Learning Center reserves the right to take whatever disciplinary action he/she feels appropriate, including dismissal without advance notice. 

The specific disciplinary action will normally be based on the assessment of the offense, the circumstances and the tutor’s previous record.

The following procedures may be used when it is necessary to exercise discipline of a tutor although all steps may not be taken prior to dismissal depending upon the circumstances.

  1.  Verbal warning by the Director.

  1. A written warning by the Director.  This warning must be signed by the tutor.  This signature acknowledges receipt but does not necessarily indicate agreement.  The tutor may be suspended without pay at this point.

  1. Termination of employment.

The Right to Privacy: 

FERPA Basics for Tutors

Students’ Right to Privacy

As a peer tutor, you are both a student and an employee of the college. Because Hanover pays tutors for the important business of helping students with their academic work, and because tutors are often privy to grades and students’ other academic information, federal law defines you as an “agent of the college” and considers you to be accountable under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, or FERPA.

The Registrar’s Office has provided the following information on FERPA. Please read it carefully.

The Essence: 

*  FERPA is a federal law designed to protect the privacy of education records. It also provides guidelines for appropriately using and releasing student education records.
*  It is intended that students’ rights be broadly defined and applied. Therefore, consider the student as the “owner” of his or her education record, and the institution as the “custodian” of that record.

Key Terms/Definitions:

Education Records: Include any record maintained by the institution that is related to the student (in whatever format or medium) with some narrowly defined exceptions:

* Records in the "sole possession of the maker" (e.g., private advising notes).

* Law enforcement records created by a low enforcement agency for that purpose.

* Employment records (unless the employment is based on student status). The employment records of student employees (e.g., work-study, wages, graduate teaching associates) are part of their education records.

* Medical/psychological treatment records (e.g., from a health or counseling center).

* Alumni records (i.e., those created after the student was enrolled).

Directory Information: Those data items that are publicly releasable, so long as the student does not have a “No Release” on his or her record. Each institution establishes what it considers to be directory information. Common examples include: name, address (local, home and e-mail), telephone (local and home), academic program of study, dates of attendance, date of birth, most recent educational institution attended, and degrees and awards received.

* Directory information cannot include: race, gender, SSN, grades, GPA, country of citizenship, or religion.

* Every student must be given the opportunity to have even directory information suppressed from public release. That is referred to as a "No Release." Everyone within the institution must respect a student's No Release on his or her record.

Parent: With reference to FERPA, the term “parent” refers to either parent if the student is financially dependent (IRS definition).

 

When do FERPA rights begin?

A FERPA-related college education record begins for a student when he or she becomes 18 or enrolls in a higher education institution at any age.

 

Basic Rights of Students

* Be notified of their FERPA rights at least annually.

* Inspect and review their records.

* Amend an incorrect record.

* Consent to disclosure (with exceptions).

 

Annual Notification

Every institution must notify students of their basic FERPA rights at least annually.

 

Inspection and Review

Students have the right to see everything in their “education record,” except:

* Information about other students,

* Financial records of parents,

* Confidential letters of recommendation if they waived their right of access (which cannot be required).   

There is no records retention policy under FERPA. It does not state what records you must make or how long you must keep them. Those are institutional decisions. You cannot destroy records once requested.

 

Right to Consent to Disclosure

Start with the premise that the student has the right to control to whom his or her education record is released. Then, there are several exceptions when that permission is not required.

Historically, we had to have a signed release. Regulations now provide more flexibility for utilizing electronic signatures.

When is prior consent not required?

The institution may release records without consent, but is not required to do so. Some examples of the exceptions for having a release include:

* "School officials" with a "legitimate educationsl interest"/"need to know;" Employees and legal agents have access to education records in order to perform their official, educationally-related duties.

* Disclosure to organizations conducting studies to improve instruction, or to accrediting organizations;

* Disclosure to parents of dependent students (IRS definition); Check to see how your institution expects parents to show that dependent status;

* To comply with a judicial order or lawfully issued subpeona;

* Disclosure for a helth/safety emergency; and

* Disclosure of directory information.

Some Specific Issues for Faculty and Instructional Staff

* Posting grades: Since grades can never be directory information, it is generally inappropriate to post grades in a public setting. However, if the instructor posts grades in such a manner that only the instructor and the individual student know the posted grade (e.g., with a personal ID; however not any portion of a SSN or institutional Student ID Number), that is acceptable. It is recommended that such a posted list not be in the same order as the class roster or in alphabetical order.

* Course Web sites: In this age of increasing technology, many courses are supported by class Web sites and/or discussion groups. Only directory information can be available to the general public and other class members, so it is recommended that such Web sites have a security layer such that only class members and instructors can access appropriate information.

How Does This Relate to Tutors?

As tutors, you are defined as an agent of the college.

  • You may be privy to grades and information on student performance. Keep this information confidential.
  • If you have concerns or questions regarding a session or want to talk with a protégé about a meeting or assignment, do not hold these conversations in a public location. The Underground or the hallway of a classroom building is the wrong place to discuss tutoring issues.
  • Do not share personal tutee information with others unless there is a need to know.

 

 

 

Learning Center Policy on Weather Emergencies

If you are in your room or elsewhere on campus when the weather watch or warning is issued, follow the lead of residence life and security. If they are telling everyone to stay inside because of bad weather, then do so.  There’s no need to be walking across campus to the Learning Center in the midst of golf ball-sized hail, or toad frogs, or whatever is falling from the sky. 

If you’re already at the Learning Center when the sirens go off, the Campus Center has a basement, so you’re as safe there as anywhere on campus. Go to the basement rather than returning to your residence hall. It makes more sense to stay under cover at these times than try to head back across campus. If bad weather is approaching and you are headed for the basement, please don’t forget to take along all students who have come into the Center for tutoring.

Once bad weather has passed, please report for the remainder of your shift as normal. Most weather alerts last for a fixed period of time. During a recent weather alert, for example, Jefferson County’s tornado warning lasted from approximately 5:15 to 5:45. By 7:00, it was still raining, but all the threatening weather was well beyond us, and so the center could open as normal. Please keep apprised of the weather situation so that you can report for your shift once the thunder clouds have passed. It is your responsibility to show up for work once the alerts have expired.

If you are in doubt about what to do, please do not hesitate to call me, center director Kay Stokes, on my cell phone at 812-599-4182. I always make sure to leave my cell phone on during hours when the center is open, and I encourage you to call if you have any concerns about anything at all. You are also welcome to call security at x7999. They monitor the weather situation closely, and will be able to tell you what’s going on if a television, radio, or internet connection is not available.

Finally, always use your best judgment.  Unfortunately, weather prediction is still often an art rather than a science, and sometimes warnings lag behind adverse conditions already on the ground. If you look outside, and things look scary (lightening crashing on the quad, blinding snow obliterating the campus center, the aforementioned frogs), let your common sense be your guide. No paper critique or calculus prep is more important than your well being.   

 

 

Guided Study Groups - Some Tools for Your Toolkit

Guided Study Group Leaders help their fellow students to master a specific class by holding regular group sessions with students enrolled in the class. They focus on understanding major concepts, developing effective problem-solving techniques, and mastering the language of the discipline. Study Group Leaders do not lecture or re-teach the material, but focus on asking questions to harness the power of the group and help direct students toward finding their own answers. They also help students improve their time management and study skills. In all their work, the goal of the study group leader is to help students become more effective, more independent learners. Rather than just showing them how to do a homework problem, study group leaders help students gain the skills necessary to excel on their own.

Good study groups start with good questions: The question is the primary tool of the Guided Study Group Leader. Good questions promote critical thinking because they help group members tap into their collective thinking and problem-solving abilities. Here are some question Do’s and Don’ts:

Don’t: Answer questions directly, but redirect these questions to the students who will, in collective interaction with the group, search for answers.

Do: Make sure that all participant questions are given consideration. Make sure the discussion is constructive and moves forward, and that important issues are covered and each students achieves understanding of the content.

Some Active Listening Techniques/Strategies for Running Good Sessions

  • Use open-ended, higher-order questions that redirect students to higher-order thinking and help them think through the application and synthesis of the material. Ask What? How? Why?
  • Use “wait time,” which is the time that elapses between a group leader question and student response.  Students need time to think critically and formulate a meaningful answer.
  • Redirecting questions is another strategy.  The goal is to provide a structure in which students interact with one another rather than direct all questions and comments to the group leader.
  • Check for understanding.  The leader needs to devise a strategy that engages the students in demonstrating what they know and how they know it.   The leader should ask open-ended questions which require the student to explain in their own words their understanding of difficult concepts.
  • It is important for leader to employ proven learning strategies that allow students to work together, but also important to vary these strategies so students don’t get bored.

Practicing Critical Thinking and Problem Solving:

  • Think Bloom’s Taxonomy
  • FY students often rely on memorization and literal thinking instead of assimilation and application of information
  • Ask How, What, Why?

Getting started/Getting organized (First 5-10 minutes of the session)

  • Have each person write down three questions when they come into the room. Collect all questions and then sort through and prioritize.
  • Each student writes down three questions ahead of time and then numbers them in order of priority and then puts the number 1 (or 1 and 2) question on the board. The group then decides with help from the tutor what order to take the questions in.
  • In both cases, the discussion leader helps the group move from basic to higher-order thinking skills using guided questioning. Help the group voice where they’re confused and prioritize the discussion. How do the questions relate to each other? Which questions are most important? How does the group’s questions relate to each other? Which concepts do we have to figure out first in order to get the more complex ones?

Wrapping up

  • Use the last few minutes of class to review and summarize. What has everyone learned? What are the key concepts? What does each person need to do between now and class or the next session? What content questions do they have for the professor? What work does each student have to do in order to learn the material. As independent learners, each one should leave the session with an understanding of what they know, what they don’t know, and what action steps they need to take in order to increase their learning. This can be done as a one-minute paper. Give everyone a moment to collect their thoughts and write down what they plan to do. (The one-minute paper also can be used to start a class.)

Sample One-Minute Paper Questions:

One thing I’ll remember about today’s session is:

What I understand today that I haven’t understood before:

What I’ve learned fits in with what I already know in the following way:

I’m still confused about:

What I’m finding hardest is:

The problem right now that is most difficult is:

As a next step, I will: