FNU Tutoring Program
The Rewards of Tutoring
by Becky Lopez, Instructor, MSN, CNM
Frontier’s tutoring team currently consists of Dr. Jan Engstrom (PC702), Dr. Charlotte Morris (PC703), Dr. Megan Garland (NM702), and me, Becky Lopez (PC705 & PC707). The tutoring program is housed under the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, and Dr. Geraldine Young has oversight. Erica Schroeder from the Advising Office is also part of the tutoring team to ensure wrap-around needs are being provided for students. Chris Turley, the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Coordinator, and Dionishia Anderson, DEI Administrative Assistant, are also integral parts of the tutoring team. There may be the ability to expand tutoring to other courses as funding becomes available.
I joined the tutoring team in November of 2020 as a part-time tutor for PC705: Advanced Pathophysiology. I was so excited to join the team at FNU and learned that tutoring, as all things here at FNU do, moves quickly! During my first term as a tutor for PC705, nearly 100 students were referred for tutoring services for that course alone. Criteria for referral to tutoring include failure of one or more exams or assignments, previous withdrawal from the course, or previous failure of the course. English as a second language is a qualification as well. Students are also referred for tutoring if the course faculty and/or tutor feel that the student could benefit from tutoring. These referrals are considered on a case-by-case basis and could be for reasons such as outside distractions (e.g., sick family member and/or required to work more hours) or barriers such as test anxiety. Tutoring is a voluntary service provided for the students; they can choose to participate or not.
As we all know, online learning can be a challenging platform to both teach and learn. When asked what was helpful about tutoring, my students have given a plethora of different responses. Overwhelmingly, the ability to connect to a faculty member either one on one or in a small group is by far the most consistent response. Secondly, remediation of the material is also very valued by the students. Having the material synthesized and reviewed in a different matter gives the students repeat exposure to the material and enhances their learning. Since I am not course faculty for either of the courses I tutor in, I strongly recommend that students continue to reach out and work with their course faculty and forge those connections. I can then synergistically add to their learning with different perspectives and ways to learn the material. These redundancies allow for the student to make deep and meaningful connections with the material and to form study habits that will carry with them throughout their academic time at FNU and beyond.
I love my role as a tutor here at FNU. I offer three times weekly small group meetings for both courses that I tutor in. I also offer one on one meetings as needed. These frequent meeting times have afforded me the opportunity to really connect and get to know students. I have seen students enter tutoring feeling as though there is no way they can make it through a course, let alone their whole program of study. I see these same students not only earn a passing grade for the course but leave the course with confidence and a “can-do” attitude. Students move out of tutoring with the knowledge, even if they struggle, we are here to support their journey and are more than capable of tackling their course of study. Tutoring fosters the fighting spirit that is the hallmark of FNU students -- blazing a path to excellent patient care and advancement of the nurse practitioner and nurse-midwifery professions.
Walking Side By Side with Students
by Meghan Garland, Instructor, MSN, CNM
With grant funds received five years ago, FNU started a tutoring pilot program in 2018. At the time, my faculty appointment was split between clinical faculty and academic faculty. Each week, I spoke with clinical students who were smart, independent, adult learners that benefitted from 1:1 faculty support. Sometimes they expressed frustration with their progress. Often, students needed a space to express their needs and maybe a little reframing about maximizing their resources or a different way to think about challenging concepts. I jumped at the chance to become a faculty tutor and provide the same support to students during their academic coursework.
Sometimes it’s hard to ask for help. Maybe it feels like something that should be solved alone or it feels like one more thing to add to a list that’s already too long. As I began my tutor role, students consistently identified the same content as confusing or overwhelming. Students told me what they needed to be successful. Some wanted help with studying or test-taking skills. Others wanted help with the critical thinking leap from memorizing information to clinical management. I began to develop tools targeted to their learning goals. I met with students 1:1 and in small groups reviewing content and answering questions. I created games to reinforce core concepts and help with knowledge retrieval.
Over time, the lessons students taught me informed changes in the course, making the content more accessible, less overwhelming, and better tailored to help students link new knowledge to the critical thinking necessary to be a safe practitioner. Students told me that tutoring helped them to think like a clinician and feel more confident taking exams. They were able to apply the same skills in their other courses and it boosted their confidence and their grades. I’m awed by the passion and dedication of FNU’s students. Walking side-by-side with students as a course tutor has meant the world to me as a nurse-midwife and an educator.