EMCC’s Embedded Tutoring Program proves successful

Chris McNeal, Learning Associate for Mathematics at the Academic Success Center
Chris McNeal, Learning Associate for Mathematics at the Academic Success Center
September 27, 2019

We’ve all heard of embedded files, embedded reporters, but embedded tutors? Well, look no further than Estrella Mountain Community College (EMCC). We have them and they’re proving to be extremely beneficial to our students’ success.

EMCC’s Embedded Tutoring Program launched in the spring of 2018 with tutors placed in two developmental and one college-level math class. All three classes had higher student success rates than their counterparts. That fall, tutors were added to six more sections and success rates continued to be higher in classes with tutors vs. classes without.

“It’s been largely successful,” said Juan Medrano, EMCC Title V Director. “We’ve seen some initial promise with it.”

The program is funded through EMCC’s current Title V grant, which largely focuses on “timely completion” of college-level classes. Grant funds compensate the tutors who must have successfully completed the classes they’re assigned to.

“The tutors have the content expertise to be able to go in and provide a high level of support to students who might need it,” Medrano said.

Embedded tutors attend every class, but that wasn’t always the case. Initially, tutors only attended every class for the first two weeks. That was to get acquainted with how the class was run, establish a relationship with the faculty member, and become acquainted with the students they were helping. After that, they would only attend class once a week. But faculty and tutors requested that tutors attend every class.

“Faculty told us their students had established a relationship with the tutor, were comfortable asking them questions, and were asking for them when they weren’t there in class,” Medrano said. “The tutors told us they weren’t always prepared because some classes moved faster or slower than the syllabus.”

So the decision was made to have the tutors attend every class. The tutors then move from table to table answering questions the students might have.

“I love the ‘light bulb’ moment students get when something has been explained to them and they acknowledge that they understand what’s going on,” said Chris McNeal, Learning Associate for Mathematics at the Academic Success Center.

McNeal has been tutoring since fall 2013 when he joined the inaugural Academic Success Center tutoring team. He’s been working with the Embedded Tutoring Program since its inception.

“I like different modalities of tutoring,” he said. “I started learning about tutoring the traditional way — one on one. Through experience, I found other effective ways of tutoring students such as study groups, review sessions, and embedded tutoring. I like these methods because students learn differently, so they need to be assisted in different tutoring modes.”

Embedded tutors are also scheduled on the Academic Success Center floor to offer extended support outside of the classroom.

“While it’s good to have faculty and tutors available to answer questions in the classroom, you’re still working with classes as large as up to 32 students,” Medrano said. “So there might be instances when the tutor isn’t able to get to all the students.”

The Academic Success Center saw a large increase in students taking advantage of group study sessions outside of class this past spring.

“Our tutors did a really good job in working with the faculty member and encouraging students to go and participate in the sessions,” Medrano said.

The ever-evolving program has added more tutors to the lineup this fall, and it’s expanding into biology classes with tutors placed in sections of BIO156, BIO181, and BIO201.

Traditional tutoring, which is also offered to EMCC students free of charge, is available in the following areas: math; science; writing; and reading, languages, and occupational.

“I’ve been coming here since day one,” said Alexander Hurtado, an aerospace engineering student. “I struggled with college algebra in high school and the people here gave off that vibe that they wanted to help. I came here seeking that help and they’ve been there for me.”

The second-year EMCC student said he will continue to utilize the tutoring services as he progresses in his math classes.

“It’s been very successful for me,” he said. “I’ve passed every one of my math classes with A’s. In one case, I passed with a 107.7 thanks to the amazing tutors they have here.”

To request tutoring, go to the Academic Success Center/Tutoring front desk on the first floor of Estrella Hall South to sign in. Click here to learn more.

EMCC is still searching for tutors, both traditional and embedded, for the current semester. Click here to apply.