ESU Earns Highest Certification for Tutoring Program

Tutoring Center

Posted by: Elizabeth Richardson on July 19, 2023, No Comments

East Stroudsburg University students who receive tutoring are more likely to continue their education at ESU than those who don’t. They are also more likely to earn As and Bs in their courses for which they receive tutoring.

That’s according to research in 2018 that looked at the effectiveness of ESU’s Tutorial Program for new first-time students and transfer students.

So, it’s all the more important that in June the ESU Tutorial Program received the highest level certification — Level III — from the College Reading & Learning Association, the professional development organization that sets rigorous standards for tutoring in higher education.

Kelly McKenzie, Ed.D., associate professor and director of ESU’s University-Wide Tutorial Program, said the program’s effectiveness can be traced in part to teaching tutors how to help students understand what they are learning and get beyond simple memorization of facts.

“We’re training our tutors to help students become independent learners, to help them with their study skills,” McKenzie said.

“One thing we tell our tutors is their students should be able to explain what they are learning back to them. And if they can do that and they do it effectively, it means that they understand.”

To become peer tutors, students must have at least a 3.0 GPA with an A or B in the course they wish to tutor and recommendations from two professors. To gain Level I certification, they must have 10 hours of training per semester and be observed by McKenzie or other Tutoring Center staff and complete 25 hours of tutoring. They must complete 50 hours for Level II and 75 hours for Level III with more training and observation.

McKenzie says all that training and hard work pays off.

“We evaluate our tutors all the time and we get really wonderful comments from our tutored students about what the tutors are doing for them in terms of academic growth,” she said.

But the benefits of tutoring don’t simply flow in one direction.

“It’s just not the students who are learning, it’s also the tutors themselves,” McKenzie said. “We have tutors who have told us that they have learned a lot about how to communicate more effectively with students. They’ve learned more about the subject they are tutoring.”

That’s true for Rhode Theodore, of Stroudsburg, who started at ESU in fall 2020.  Theodore is the first ESU student to reach Level III after tutoring Spanish for 75 hours.

Theodore talks to Spanish professors about what they are teaching and what she should be working on with students. Her duties include filling out assessments of the tutoring sessions and what each student has to work on.

“Honestly, my favorite thing is just meeting all the different people,” said Theodore, a double major in marketing and Spanish. “I know when I was a freshman going into college –that was a whole different experience — you just want somebody to help you, you want as many resources as you can. I am really happy to be able to help students and be there for them.”

Theodore says the wages she receives from tutoring come in handy but she also sees tutoring as preparing her for professional life after college.

“In any circumstance where you have to work with people, I think it’s important to understand that people are really diverse and there’s different learning styles and different communication styles,” she said. “The more open you are to learning and trying to understand other people’s point of view, the more smoothly things will go for you in any circumstance or any line of work.”

That insight and openness is part of why Theodore is so popular as a tutor.

“She has a lot of students all the time because she’s very good at what she does,” McKenzie said.

McKenzie credited Matthew Simmons, ESU coordinator of tutoring, for organizing and submitting all the documents to the College Reading & Learning Association necessary for certification.

“He was so thorough, the organization had nothing else they needed,” McKenzie said. “I really credit him for making it so easy.”

Hours for the Tutoring Center are: Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-8 p.m.; Friday 11 a.m.-4 p.m.; Sunday by appointment.