Wright State University’s Academic Success Centers have adopted national training standards for student tutors, ensuring they are prepared to provide to students excellent academic assistance.
The success centers — the Math Learning Center, Writing Center and Tutoring Services — have received International Tutor Training Program Certification from the College Reading and Learning Association (CRLA).
The certification demonstrates that the centers operate consistently with best practices and that Wright State student tutors — who are called peer leaders — have been prepared to provide high-quality support to other students, said David Bringhurst, assistant dean for academic success and foundation studies in the Division of Student Success.
“I really liked the idea that we had an opportunity to demonstrate a level of excellence and that we had an opportunity to provide some additional value to our employees. A CRLA certification travels,” he said.
During the fall 2016 semester, 2,000 students received tutoring services from the student success centers and 2,080 students received tutoring in the fall 2017 semester.
All of the peer leaders working in the success centers are students. During the 2017–18 academic year, 30 peer leaders worked in the Writing Center, 30 in the Math Center and 120 to 150 worked in the Tutoring Center.
Located in 122 Student Success Center, the Math Learning Center helps students become more skilled, confident and independent learners of mathematics.
The University Writing Center, located in 122 Student Success Center, helps students become more skilled, confident and independent writers.
Tutoring Services provides support for frequently requested courses numbered 3000 and below, helping students develop a deeper understanding of class materials and gain skills that can improve their overall GPA. Tutoring Services are provided in satellite locations around campus.
The College Reading and Learning Association is a group of student-oriented professionals active in the fields of reading, learning assistance, developmental education, tutoring and mentoring at the college and adult level. The organization seeks to advance standards for tutoring programs and other assistance programs for students in higher education.
CRLA certification includes requirements for the tutor selection process; the tutoring experience tutors receive; evaluation process for the tutors; and assessment standards for tutoring programs.
Bringhurst said the Academic Success Centers had long met the CRLA standards for the tutor selection process and tutoring experience tutors received before the university sought certification.
The most significant benefit of going through the certification process has been the creation of a consistent evaluation process and the adoption of a learning outcome process for the success centers.
The CRLA certification process helped the Academic Success Centers operate more consistently about creating a defined set of standards, outcomes and assessments for each program and applying that to tutor training. As a result, each center developed its own assessment process.
Improving the training process for tutors can improve the tutoring other students receive, Bringhurst said. Training also helps peer leaders improve their knowledge and develop skills like confidence and communication.
“Their work with other students helps them to reinforce their learning,” he said. “When you get students working together that way — that to me is one of the most valuable experiences.”
Serving as a peer leader has other benefits, Bringhurst said. It keeps students engaged on campus and looks great on a resume.
“The best dollar the university spends is when it spends on peer support,” Bringhurst said. “Every time we spend a dollar on a tutor we’re also spending it on one or more students who are going to be getting that help.”
Students who receive assistance from the Academic Success Centers get more than academic tutoring. They often gain confidence and independence.
“And once you have the skills and the confidence, you’re prepared to be independent,” Bringhurst said.