When Anna Panek and Cheresa Bouley head to the College of Science and Engineering Tutoring Center for a session of helping students with math and science, they do so at home with Zoom.
Tutoring centers across campus are still operating and connecting students with assistance at a time when their extra assistance is most needed as students deal with the challenges of remote learning. They are offering their services through remote tutoring sessions. Some, like the College of Science and Engineering Tutoring Center, are offering Zoom sessions where students and tutors can connect through an online whiteboard and share screens. Other tutoring centers are using phone sessions, but they are all continuing to serve students.
Bouley, a life sciences major, is happy that she is still able to support students even though she can’t meet with them in person.
“A couple of nice features on Zoom that have been helpful are the screen share and chat, particularly the screen share,” she said. “I can share my screen with other students to show them how to do problems or useful resources, and the students can share their notes and homework problems with me when they share their screen as well.”
Still, remote tutoring brings its challenges, she said. Bouley does tutoring in statistics for the College of Science and Engineering Tutoring Center and biology and chemistry for Athletes for Success in the Classroom.
Not being with the student face-to-face or being able to review their notes as easily makes it more challenging, but Bouley and her students are working through it, she said.
“I am grateful that I can still provide support to students, especially since online classes can be more challenging,” she said.
Dr. Melissa Hanszek-Brill, who manages the College of Science and Engineering Tutoring Center, worked with her tutors during the extended spring break to offer training in Zoom to get them ready to work with students in a new way. She included teaching assistants and graduate assistants, who normally help students in the classroom, to get them ready to tutor remotely as well.
Zoom offers screen sharing capabilities and an interactive whiteboard that allows students and tutors to interact with one another almost as if they were together at an actual whiteboard, Hanszek-Brill said.
She followed up her virtual training session with video tutorials and instructions to allow tutors to review and practice before classes started and tutoring services became available March 30.
“They have all been amazing,” Hanszek-Brill said. “They all stepped up. They are ready and more than ready to help their peers with the content. I have been so impressed with how dedicated the tutors are to helping the students at St. Cloud State.”
Each tutor needed to set up their own Zoom room and get the details to Hanszek-Brill to post online before classes resumed. Tutoring sessions were available for students to drop in on March 30, and a few students dropped in virtually for assistance that first day.
It’s also important that students are aware tutoring services are still being offered and help is available if they need it, said Panek, a math tutor who is double majoring in math education and Spanish education.
“We will make it through this semester, and we will thrive together — even if we are separated at home,” she said.
Zoom has been easy to learn and use, Panek added.
“I have used Zoom a handful of times before the COVID situation,” she said. “It has been fairly easy. My professors have been very helpful, especially the training provided by Dr. Hanszek-Brill.”
She finds that as long as she sticks to a routine and stays organized, managing both her classes and tutoring remotely is working well. She is staying positive and sees the remote learning experience as a lesson of its own.
“For me this is a very good learning opportunity,” Panek said. “As a future teacher, being able to basically teach online gives me practice that I haven’t been able to have in my classes. While I hope I won’t have to only teach online, I don’t know what the future will bring.”
In a regular academic year the College of Science and Engineering Tutor Center in the Integrated Science and Engineering Laboratory Facility (ISELF) receives about 7,500 visits from students and serves about 1,500 different students each year with about 10,000 hours of tutoring.
Academic Learning Center — Offers tutoring in various disciplines with a special focus on general education courses. Also offers study and reading assistance.
Athletes for Success in the Classroom/Multicultural Student Services Tutoring Program — Provides tutoring and academic support services for student athletes and students of color.
College of Science and Engineering Tutoring Center — Offers tutoring in disciplines and classes offered by the College of Science and Engineering.
Department of Language and Culture — Offers assistance with understanding grammar topics and homework assistance.
Herberger Business School — Staffed by graduate students and offering assistance for students in the disciplines of accounting, finance and statistics.
Math Skills Center — Offers support for students enrolled in Math 070 and Math 072.
The Write Place — Offers writing assistance.
Smarthinking Online Tutoring — online-on-demand tutoring service available through D2L. Each student has access to 15 hours of the tutoring service.