Dear Colleagues: Let me start this “syllabus reminders” email with a thank you. What a year 2020 has been, and we are barely halfway through it. You migrated your classes online last spring with little advance notice. Those of you…
Need to Set Up a Schedule for Academic Success? A Peer Coach or Tutor Can Help with That
Are you a student struggling with managing your time with online classes, coursework, studying and downtime? Or just need some advice in adjusting to this new learning environment?
A peer tutor or coach through the Center for Learning and Student Success (CLASS) can meet with you online and provide guidance and tools to help you achieve your academic goals.
CLASS is offering students the opportunity to sign up for a 60-minute “Managing Online Learning” session with a trained peer tutor or coach. Peer tutors and coaches will work with students to create a plan for succeeding in their coursework this semester.
The unexpected shift to online learning has been jarring for students who are now away from the familiar classroom and study spaces they are used to and might not have a well-defined space for learning at home, says Margaret Usdansky, director of CLASS.
“The idea behind the ‘Managing Online Learning’ sessions is to give students an opportunity to work with trained, certified peer tutors and coaches, and focus on developing some concrete plans for the next several weeks to have them finish the semester strong,” Usdansky says.
Sessions are driven by what students need.
“The conversations start out with the peer tutor or coach asking students how things are going, what’s different, what’s harder since they’re not in the classroom, and how students are approaching their courses,” Usdansky says.
During the sessions, the peer tutor or coach will encourage students and walk through tactics for how they are going to achieve their academic goals through their courses, deadlines and exams.
Once students sign up for a “Managing Online Learning” session, they will be given access through Blackboard Collaborate to meet with the peer tutor or coach. The peer tutors and coaches want to know what students are concerned about and provide support and reassurance.
There’s a common theme among students that peer tutors and coaches are hearing—setting up and managing a schedule.
In a brief video for CLASS, peer tutor Ava Breitbeck ’22 encourages fellow students to sign up for one of the sessions.
“Staying on top of coursework in this new online learning environment is challenging,” Breitbeck says. “It’s easy to lose track of time and not get caught up with your online lectures. Making a schedule is crucial to staying on top of your coursework this semester.”
Peer coach Justine Hastings ’21 offers tips to fellow students in another video for CLASS. “I for one know it may be hard to avoid distractions with our new online learning environment,” Hastings says. “It’s easy to check the internet or surf Twitter while watching your professor’s prerecorded lecture.”
Using the online technology can be a hindrance too—some students like participating via chat, others are more comfortable in the classroom.
“It’s a really quick adaptation to a different reality than just a few weeks ago,” Usdansky says.
CLASS also provides group tutoring sessions. There are 100 sessions online every week for 30 courses that have traditionally been challenging for undergraduates. Students enrolled in those courses were notified March 23 that the tutoring was moved online and have access to Blackboard Organizations CLASS created for the sessions. Live tutoring sessions take place through Blackboard Collaborate Ultra, which faculty are using for synchronous course meetings.
Some tutors and coaches are recording short videos featuring tips or concepts to supplement the synchronous tutoring sessions. Students can watch when it’s convenient for them.
Individual tutoring for other courses is also available through CLASS. Information is available on the CLASS home page. If a tutor isn’t available for a particular course, students can email CLASS at CLASS@syr.edu for assistance in finding a tutor.
To finish the academic year strong, students are encouraged to sign up for the new Managing Online Learning session or also sign up just if they need any academic support.
“We are delighted to support students in any way to help them achieve their academic goals,” Usdansky says.