Academic journal article Delta Kappa Gamma Bulletin

Tutoring Initiative: A High School/ University Partnership

Academic journal article Delta Kappa Gamma Bulletin

Tutoring Initiative: A High School/ University Partnership

Article excerpt

Tutoring partnerships enable K- 12 students to make progress under the mentorship of capable volunteers, while volunteers enjoy the reward of observing their tutees' academic progress. Especially during economic crises, it is critical to support volunteerism in our communities, making use of human capital and goodwill. In this three-year partnership between Biola University and La Mirada High School, the number of weekly volunteers ranged from 13-17 with individual tutors providing one to ten hours of volunteer service per week. By the end of the third year, the tutoring program offered 43 hours of tutoring in one-to-one and small group formats on a weekly basis. The number of high school students served grew from 42 students the first year of the partnership to 138 students served in the third year of the partnership.

Getting Started

In the spring of 2006, as faculty at La Mirada High School and Biola University in La Mirada, California concerned about test scores of incoming students, we decided to pursue a tutoring partnership. During the initial meeting between the high school and the university, we established a procedural protocol. Initial tutor inquiries would be screened at the university. If the university student had genuine interest, the potential tutor filled out a two-page application form. Tutors were then interviewed about important information related to the subjects and levels with which each applicant felt most comfortable. Based upon each tutor's responses, we provided guidance about tutoring and the importance of consistency, mentorship, and demonstrating genuine interest in the high school students' lives. We then provided directions on fingerprinting clearance to ensure there were no criminal records in the tutors' background experiences. While tutor applications were collected at the university, the high school collected student applications. Once the university students had the tutors' fingerprint clearances, tutor/tutee matches could be made.

Recruiting Strategies

High school tutees were recruited through Orientation Night, Back-to-School Night, MidYear Intervention Meetings, Open House, and periodic announcements via the school bulletin and the high school counselors. Tutors at Biola University were recruited by word of mouth and by posting flyers around common areas of the campus, including in dorms, announcements in students' electronic folders, and ads in education newsletters. We also handed out flyers at the entrance of the university cafeteria. "Undergraduate enrollments at U.S. colleges and universities are around 15 million and growing, and many institutions are expanding volunteer and service-learning programs. Colleges and universities can be especially fertile volunteer recruiting grounds" (Stiefvater, 2007, p. 7), and this mirrored our experience. The most fruitful recruiting strategy was presenting the need at the Freshman Community Service Informational Meeting at Biola University. Stiefvater (2007) offers the following tips for recruiting college students to serve as tutors:

"I) Consult with departments and financial aid offices to see if volunteering will qualify students for academic, work-study, and work-experience credits.

2) Get to know staff of campus volunteer and student activities offices and keep them informed of the good work their students are doing for your program.

3) Target departments with a child or youth focus, such as education, psychology, and social work.

4) Work with professors and department chairs to create service-learning opportunities through your program. Some colleges have service-learning coordinators you can work with.

5) With permission from student affairs, residential life, and other offices, reach out to student organizations, including fraternities and sororities. Many encourage or require their members to participate in community service and civicengagement projects" (p. 7).

We not only recruited college students for our tutoring partnership, we also recruited a practicing classroom teacher who volunteered after school. …

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