Sigma Tau Delta’s Eta Rho Chapter launched an initiative to begin online tutoring at Stockton University on February 18, 2019. Eta Rho President, Shilo Previti, founded the project with Stockton University Tutoring Center Specialist and Coordinator of Academic Support, Lauren Fonseca, an alumna of the Eta Rho Chapter. The plans for this initiative began in September 2018, but with the support of the Sigma Tau Delta Chapter Project Grant, we were able to purchase a laptop for the project.
Our chapter has focused our service projects in recent years on community outreach and literacy, doing community readings at local inpatient healthcare facilities and working on creative writing projects for children at the women’s shelter in our county. However, when we realized that there were many students at Stockton, with its high percentage of at-risk commuters and non-traditional students, who were unable to be served by the Tutoring Center on campus, we came up with the idea to use our university’s Zoom license to try and bring the Tutoring Center to students unable to make it to the on-campus locations.
“The launch of online tutoring was important to me. I have been wanting to offer online tutoring for commuter and nontraditional students since my hiring in 2015. When the University acquired a Zoom license, I was hopeful that the Tutoring Center could use the platform for online tutoring. Our head writing tutor and Eta Rho member, Shilo, shared my hopes and applied for the Sigma Tau Delta [Chapter Project] Grant to help us purchase a dedicated laptop. The faculty were excited about the pilot and posted links in their online course shells. Even the president, Dr. Harvey Kesselman, showed enthusiasm for the launch. With such support and interest, I think we will be able to continue and expand online tutoring in future semesters.”—Lauren Fonseca, Stockton Tutoring Support Staff & Project Advisor
For some Eta Rho members, it was surprising how comfortable and fulfilling tutoring through a computer screen was. Marissa Luca, a chapter member who also works in the regular tutoring center on campus, said “Despite the physical distance between myself and those I was tutoring, I found that I was still able to connect with them and help them to understand what they could improve in their writing. ESL students in particular were quite successful with the program, despite the physical and linguistic barriers between us.”
Our work with students has been a success, and we hope to reach even more students in the future. It has also been helpful to our chapter for us to partner with an on-campus office, the Writing Center, because paid Stockton tutors are interested in the work we’re doing and wondering how they can be involved in the service our chapter does. We’re hoping to fill our ranks with more people who are passionate about literacy outreach at our next induction event.
One of the challenges we faced during our project, which began in February and has no end date yet, was that many of the students we were hoping to serve have been difficult to get the word out to. Many a student is wary of their first tutoring session, and while our office and various satellite locations across our campuses work to project a friendly front, we are concerned that an online tutoring session may be a source of anxiety to students who have never worked with a tutor before. In future semesters, we will be working to increase the hours online tutoring will be available to students in order to serve the complicated schedules of students in our community and to make it even easier and less intimidating to potential tutees.
Sigma Tau Delta Project Grant Resources
More Chapter Project Grant Reports
When Words Come to Life
Leo’s Little Free Library
Restocking the Military Resource Center’s Lending Library
Writing Contest for Secondary Schools
AuthorShip! Writing Contest
Little Free Library
Common Reader Community Discussion
English Careers Event