Embedded tutoring is a form of Supplemental Instruction (SI), based on the model developed in 1973 at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. The program has been in place at West Valley College since 2015; we place trained tutors in challenging classes where they can most effectively help students succeed.
Embedded Tutors work in the classroom to help students understand course concepts and enhance student engagement AND outside of the classroom during tutoring hours specifically designed for the students in the supported class.
Embedded Tutor qualifications:
- Must have successfully completed the class in which they're embedded--or a higher-level class--with a 'B' or better (e.g. a student who took Math 3A can support Math 106; a student who took English 1A can support English 905).
- Must take Tutor training courses. ISTU40 for general tutoring ISTU 40+ ISTU 40E for tutoring English.
- Have ideally taken classes from the instructor they're supporting.
- Have ideally participated in the cohort if it's a cohort-focused class (e.g. FYE, Puente, UMOJA).
- Can commit to attending the supported class. In cases where the class meets four times a week, the tutor can attend half the classes if there's a time conflict with a class they need to take.
- Can commit to holding three hours outside of class each week for tutoring, both group and individual. Note: if a tutor is in a class with a co-requisite support class (e.g. English 1A/99X, Math 10/10C, etc.), the "outside" hours may be spent during the support class' meeting time.
- Are leaders--they help guide students through the class by modeling effective student behavior, co-developing study plans for upcoming tests, breaking assignments into manageable chunks, and providing the "I wish I had known this when I took it..." insights students need to help stay on top of their work and succeed in the class.
- Are learners--by participating in the class, ETs get to review course material, strengthen their information base, and continue their learning process. This is incredibly helpful, especially for ETs who plan to go into major fields of study that relate to or align with the supported subject.
- Are engaging! The best ETs are approachable, friendly, compassionate, and engaged; they regularly check-in with students, remind them of their support hours, and continuously encourage the students to visit them. They help minimize any stigma related to "tutoring" by normalizing everyone's need for additional support and acknowledging the reluctance inherent in asking for help.
The best ETs often know what it means to struggle, whether in the supported subject or in some other area. If they struggled in the supported class, but found a way to persevere and succeed, they can provide a GREAT model for growth mindset and the power of persistence. Thus, we're not always looking for the "best" "straight-A" students when we look for a good ET; more importantly, we need empathetic peers to encourage their fellow students in a relatable way.
At West Valley, the classes supported by the Embedded Tutoring program fall into the following categories:
- Cohorts: groups of students who take classes together, often with a connected Counseling support class. These students are identified as needing additional support for a variety of reasons. At West Valley, we currently have these three cohorts:
- Puente (Links to an external site.): primarily for, but not limited to, students of Latinx descent.
- UMOJA (Links to an external site.): primarily for African American students.
- First Year Experience (Links to an external site.): primarily for, but not limited to, first generation college students.
Please follow the links above to familiarize yourself with each cohort.
- Math and English Classes with Co-requisite Support Classes: studies show that students often do better when placed in a class that is more challenging, though they need extra support to succeed. Thus, WVC attached co-requisite support classes to required transfer-level courses in Math and English to provide the support for those who need it.
- Transfer-Level English and Math Classes: Since AB705 was passed in 2017, WVC has worked to "maximize the probability that a student will enter and complete transfer-level coursework in English and Math within a one year timeframe." By adding ETs to entry-level Math and English courses, students get additional support in areas that would have previously required remediation.
- LRSV Classes: these Math- and English-equivalent classes are taught by DESP faculty for students in the program.
- Challenging Courses Taken for G.E. Credit: many classes required for transfer are highly challenging for students; an ET can make a huge difference in helping students get through the class the first time around.
ALL of the areas above have "basic skills" requirements, like the need to be able to write and/or do math, with which students often struggle. Some of the above focus specifically on equity, on helping underrepresented groups get the support they need to address the opportunity gap. Every class listed above recognizes the value of having an empathetic peer leader who can guide students through the class, support them in their studies, and refer them to other resources as needed.
In order for a course to qualify for the ET program, the instructor MUST use active, engaged strategies (e.g. group work, practice time, etc.) during class to give the tutor ample time to engage with and support students. If a course is strictly lecture-based, the tutors don't have opportunities to engage with students and impact their in-class learning; thus, instructors of lecture-only courses should refer students to the Success Center's drop-in tutors instead of requesting an ET.
The instructor of the course is responsible for the following:
- Course design
- Lesson planning
- Taking attendance
- Instructing the class
- Designing and administering exams
- Creating/providing supplementary course materials (worksheets, handouts, practice problems, etc.)
- Effectively managing the "classroom climate" by dealing with any disruptive students &/or other issues that hinder other students' ability to learn or violate the Student Code of Conduct at WVC
- Taking appropriate disciplinary action if needed.
IN the Classroom, Embedded Tutors...
- Assist the instructor as needed;
- Engage with and help students during group work and other class activities;
- Demonstrate the skills needed to be a successful student;
- Ask thoughtful questions (if the instructor permits it);
- De-stigmatize "help-getting" by regularly providing assistance to students during class;
- Regularly and enthusiastically encourage students to attend tutoring sessions.
OUT of the Classroom, Embedded Tutors...
- Encourage note-taking and rewriting by asking students to refer to their notes during tutoring sessions and by explaining the benefits of note-taking if it's a skill they haven't yet begun practicing;
- Help students space out assignments, organize their time, and develop study plans to stay on top of the required work (and use calendars, planners, etc. when doing so);
- Use differentiated, active, engaged tutoring strategies during group and individual tutoring sessions;
- Discuss and demonstrate effective, "brain-friendly" study techniques and strategies;
- Document sessions with tutees via Student Intake Forms;
- Recognize when outside experts are needed and refer students to the resource(s) that are best-suited for their current situation;
- Notify the instructor of areas of struggle by identifying where several/many students seem to be having a hard time and reporting it in a timely fashion without identifying any student(s) by name (for confidentiality reasons).
Embedded Tutors CANNOT…
- Run class (if the instructor is absent);
- Take attendance during class;
- Create or proctor exams;
- Design course materials;
- Grade assignments or predict a student's grade on one;
- Plan/prepare lessons to be taught during class;
- Discipline other students;
- Be asked to manage disruptive students/the "classroom climate."
Embedded Tutors CAN…
- Hold extra student support hours if/when an instructor cancels class during the time in which the class would meet;
- Provide insightful feedback on course materials, exams, and assignments to help the instructor improve;
- Use supplementary course materials during student support hours;
- Hold (pre-approved) extra student support hours when a major assignment is due or before an exam;
- Remind and encourage students to go to the instructor if/when additional help is needed or students have questions about their grades or course progress.
For more information, please contact Jen Wagner, WVC's Embedded Tutoring Coordinator, at Jennifer.wagnerFREEWEST_VALLEY