New platform replaces peer tutoring program

By Marie O'Neal, Staff Writer

Peer tutoring has been a part of Newman’s culture for many years. But because of a decrease in funding this year, the peer tutoring program has been mostly replaced with a new online tutoring platform that’s free to students.

Director of Career Services Melody Head said that Newman’s new tutoring program, TutorMe, is an instantaneous, 24-hour tutoring program that can be accessed directly through Canvas course pages.

The new program replaces Newman's previous peer tutoring program, in which paid on-campus students would provide help to other students.

After Newman went online in March due to COVID-19, Head said, changes needed to be made to meet students’ needs.

“We put the peer tutoring online, but there was very little usage,” she said.

TutorMe’s constant availability to students was a big reason Newman made the switch, Head said.

"As classes resumed this year, an online meeting was held with the certified peer tutors from last year," Head said. "At that meeting, information was shared about the TutorMe platform and the opportunities for embedded tutors in on-campus courses when appropriate and possible."

There are now three embedded tutors and they each help out with a specific program: one each in college algebra, physics and general biology.

TutorMe is accessible through every Canvas course. In the navigation bar at the bottom of the course, there is a link labeled TutorMe.

“You click on it and it comes up. It’s so easy,” Head said.

Once students begin using the platform, they can choose to remain with their original tutor or be assigned a new tutor. This allows students to have the freedom to build relationships with their tutors but leaves room for flexibility, Head said.

“I really think it’s going to be great,” she said. “All of the tutors have bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate degrees in their areas of study.”

TutorMe gives students control on how they interact with their tutors, Head said. They can video or audio chat with tutors. They also have the option to use instant messaging.

Students can submit math and science problems, general concepts and papers. The tutors will help students further their understanding, but “they will not do their homework for them,” Head said.

The writing service guarantees papers will be returned within 12 hours. Once students complete their first round of edits, they can send the paper back to receive more feedback.

TutorMe also has access to test prep for exams such as the MCAT, GRE and LSAT, all with available tutors.

“I just don’t see a downside,” Head said.

Freshman Samantha Holmes said peer tutoring was something she was looking forward to experiencing at Newman. Holmes said she learns best in-person.

“I can see how the program could benefit some people, but if there is an opportunity to do something in person, I would definitely take that,” she said.

Holmes said she was upset when she found out the peer tutoring program was cancelled.

“I’m not as tech savvy as some people. It’s harder for me to explain what I need help with online,” she said.

Holmes said college is different from high school, and a personal touch can help with the transition.

“Your professors aren’t always in their offices or classroom,” she said. “Something I thought would be really helpful about coming to Newman was the fact that there were on-site tutors so that I could have that in-person help.”

Holmes said she reached out to an upperclassman for help in one of her classes when she wasn’t sure she completed an assignment correctly.

“I would rather ask my questions to someone here who has taken the class,” she said.

The three on-campus tutors who remain will work with professors to learn how they can best aid their classes.

Junior Martin Pham is an embedded tutor for Associate Professor of Chemistry Ryan Huschka’s physics class. Similar to a teaching assistant, Pham attends the classes in-person and then he holds a study session for the students. Students do not need to register for the session beforehand.

Pham said he is excited for the opportunity to help students understand a subject many dread.

“I want to help people that just need a little push,” he said. “They can do it. I enjoy it when people realize they can actually do it, and I hope I can help in some way.”

PHOTO: Courtesy Photo,