A Marine who just returned from two tours in Afghanistan recently dropped by my office, located inside our tutoring center, to extend his appreciation for the tutoring service offered at our school. I replied that it was a small thing we could do in return for his service to our country, and I spoke with him about his experiences with our tutoring center and adjusting to civilian life in general. He explained how a Veteran’s Coordinator from the school had walked him up to the tutoring center and introduced him to several tutors who either were veterans themselves or had family serving active duty.
This small interaction meant so much to me because reaching out to veterans and providing more effective support to this specific group has been a real challenge. Veterans tend to be a closed community and do not seek assistance as readily as other students. Oftentimes, veterans feel comfortable only with other veterans, so extending our resources to this group has been difficult. Veterans returning from Afghanistan and Iraq constitute a substantial portion of the student population at Western Nevada College, so much so that our institution recently received one of only a few federal grants to support veterans at our college. AccuLite Software, in conjunction with the coordinated support of Student Services and a diverse tutoring staff, has enabled our tutoring center to better facilitate an inviting and supportive environment. In coordination with Counseling and Student Services, we are able to funnel returning veterans into the center and direct them to specific tutors who can empathize with their experiences as veterans (several tutors are veterans themselves or have close family serving). As Coordinator of the ASC, I can then review which specific tutors were utilized and justify allocating increased resources to them.
AccuLite Software has helped our center tremendously over the years not just in serving veterans but many students and faculty. In our center, it is a means of monitoring, assessing and tracking usage of the tutoring center. We use “drop-in” tutoring primarily, but students sign in on the computer, and choose the appropriate category—or subcategory—in which they are seeking tutoring. I look at how much the different areas of tutoring offered are being utilized and add or subtract hours accordingly.
When I arrived, the center was inefficient and did not serve what I considered an appropriate number of students. In the past five years, however, we have experienced a 300% increase in the number of students visiting the center and the number of tutoring hours used by students, and some of the credit for that increase lies with AccuLite Software. This increase has happened in spite of budget cuts to our center and the loss of a full-time administrative assistant. In short, AccuLite has allowed us to do far more with far less.
The overall breakdown which AccuLite provides is especially helpful in allowing me to write end-of-the-year reports, or, as I’m doing this semester, Program Review. I can focus in on usage of the center down to the subject or day, or I can use overall statistics within the year or across years to get a holistic view. These reports have helped me to lobby for increased funding and/or to justify the expenditures we currently make.
In addition to helping me allocate resources more effectively to help better serve students, the software allows me to track tutor usage of the center. While tutors are required to fill out timesheets, the AccuLite software allows for an additional source of verification that the tutor did indeed work his or her required time, a very valuable back-up for auditing purposes, especially since our 40-hour a week administrative was permanently cut for budgetary reasons (she would monitor tutors).
Currently, our school has devoted a great deal of effort to developing learning communities, and AccuLite software has allowed our center to easily advance these projects. The “Latino Cohort” group best exemplifies the success of these efforts. A group of twenty or so Hispanic students has been kept together throughout different semesters and classes with close support from Financial Aid, Counseling and Student Services. Even the families of these students have been involved, and this tightly knit group employed our tutoring center to help advance their learning—and togetherness—even further.
Every cohort has a “mentor,” and this “mentor” has access to the AccuLite software so that she can track cohort members’ attendance in the tutoring center and the types of resources these students utilize while in the center. The mentor, in turn, submits these hours to their supervisor.
We track not only broad categories such as math and science, but we “dial down” tracking to individual classes, such as specific sections of physics taught by a particular instructor.
**Tutors in action
This sort of specificity allows for instructors to adjust their syllabi, offering, for example, extra credit for a certain amount of time spent receiving tutoring at our center.
AccuLite software allows for us to conduct quick surveys so as determine the success of special workshops we offer in subjects such as study skills or research writing. Also, we can alert students to the need to engage in tutor evaluations or to fill out satisfaction surveys regarding the tutoring center. We conduct surveys which target these particular events and receive prompt reports about the degree of success.
I’ve seen firsthand the impact AccuLite has had on the quality, efficiency, and integrity of our tutoring services. In a time when practically every other tutoring program at the college level in the state of Nevada has experienced drastic cuts, we have expanded. As a coordinator on a .5 contract (I teach half-time as well and am a tenured professor), I feel I have been able to do the job of a full-time coordinator, and much of that credit goes to the AccuLite software. I teach other faculty and staff to take advantage of the software and track their own students’ utilization of the software, and the results have been tremendous. Professors whose students never used to visit the center are now pleading for me to hire additional tutors in their field. Perhaps most convincing of all, our center was just awarded a large increase in its budget as a result of our success in delivering a quality service to students.
I point out key examples but AccuLite has helped our tutoring center in many, many more ways than I discussed today. In my own teaching in the classroom and as a tutoring coordinator, I strive to make learning as personal as possible, to tailor teaching to the needs of students, and AccuLite acts as a catalyst for just this sort of personalization. AccuLite monitors the health and needs of our tutoring center, and it offers a wealth of information and services to other areas of our college. From the Marine returning from Afghanistan, to a
group of Latino students united in their drive to succeed, to the physics professor who can better manage his students learning outside the classroom, AccuLite is a superb resource.
ASC Coordinator/Professor of English
Western Nevada College
Carson City, NV