VIDEO: University initiates expanded student tutoring program

James Ahrens

Things just got a bit easier for students who need a little extra help to get through their classes.

Ann Callies of the Center for Undergraduate Studies and Programs (CUSP) and director of the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) has helped to develop a program where students can tutor others, providing yet another free service to Washburn students.

Although the budget cuts that have been sweeping across campus have affected the outlook EOP has for its future, the cuts have also made EOP a more cost-efficient program.

Before this semester, EOP had been pairing students with tutors in a one-on-one setting, whereas this semester tutors are helping more than one student at a time in Mabee Library. Callies said this puts the EOP in line with the rest of Washburn in terms of efficiency.

“I feel we’re doing an adequate job given the resources we have now,” said Callies. “The main problem we have is filling time-slot needs to find where students can [schedule themselves].”

Callies said the EOP employs seven tutors who are available as math, English and support instructor tutors, whom are based in Stoffer.

Callies said the EOP is operating under less-than-perfect conditions, but she said they offer a great service to students. Communicating these services to students is essential. Telling students about free tutoring will help get direct assistance to those in need and improve the educational quality of the students’ experience in a university setting.

The application process to become a tutor has become less stringent as the EOP program has changed. Before the move to Mabee library, when students were directed toward specific rooms in a department, it was preferred that the student tutors have a 3.0 GPA in the area(s) of teaching. Now, each applicant is subject to a background check and a more thorough inspection of character. A student interested in tutoring should apply at the CUSP office.

Miranda Kendall, a tutor who specializes in English, said the opportunity to help others gives her a feeling of great responsibility and satisfaction.

“As tutors we’re here to help anybody with any subject that we feel comfortable tutoring,” said Kendall.

Kendall, a teaching major graduating in December, has tutored for seven semesters and enjoys helping students organize, focus and analyze their work, in whatever subject. She is a member of the Washburn Writers, a group that hosts writing circles and open mic nights. Kendall found her place as a tutor through Callies, a faculty sponsor of the Washburn Writers. Kendall said this was an unusual situation because most students go through an application process, but she was invited to get involved.

Kendall has had experience with many of the professors in class and she said she takes that experience into consideration during the tutoring process. She helps students who are in certain classes understand the teaching style of a professor and to be understanding when a professor has high standards or poor communication skills. Kendall said there are benefits in the change to Mabee.

“I really like tutoring in the library partly because of the atmosphere,” said Kendall. “We’ve got many places that students can plop down with a laptop and work.” Kendall said there’s something about studying in Mabee that gives the feeling of a quiet atmosphere, conducive to good work.

“[Mabee is a] less intimidating place, you’re not going to a particular room, it’s just more comfortable,” said Kendall.

The departmental tutoring programs can be overwhelmed with the number of students, particularly at times like midterms and finals weeks. The library tutors can take some of that weight.

Andra Broxterman, a graduate student who tutors, said she feels the same way.

“We help people if they have any questions with their classes, questions and clarifications; almost a different way of teaching,” said Broxterman.

“We’ll help you get back to where you need to be, or maybe even a little bit ahead of the curve,” said Broxterman. She echoed the sentiment that students need to push themselves to take the first, if not wobbly, step into the library.

“We’re here bored without them,” said Broxterman.

Video by Kristina Wright