Note: Casey, Krista, and Janetta all spent spring term 2013 volunteering with students at Parkrose High School in classrooms and with the SUN after school program. This volunteer work was part of their senior Capstone (Enhancing Youth Literacy) at Portland State University.
We decided to write a student survey based on our presence as tutors at Parkrose High School. As a group, we realized that there weren’t very many students attending the tutoring sessions after school. Our survey was to find out whether students had used the tutoring center; if not, why and if so, was it helpful? We also decided to use this opportunity to find out what the students’ favorite and least favorite classes were and what would help make their least favorite class work better for them. In this way, this survey may provide insight for Parkrose High School in making certain programs more engaging for students while aiding our own understanding of what works and what does not work, on average, for students.
We distributed our surveys out to the two classes where we were designated; one science class for two periods and one “emerging English” class for two periods (English as a second language). After looking at both survey collections, we noticed varying results.
The surveys revealed that a large number of students did not have any clue that there was a tutoring center. Many other students revealed that they did not have time after school because they had other engagements to attend to or couldn’t get a ride later than when school gets out. We found that English and math were often the most difficult subjects; however, science and English were also the most favored by students. It also is apparent that the students who take advantage of the tutoring center the most were those who were surveyed in the ESL classes, who go to tutoring more regularly to get help with English assignments.
Casey: “This group project for me made me realize how difficult the emerging English class was for the students in the course. Many of them didn’t feel like they had enough time to get all of their work done. I also realized that the tutoring center was very limited to helpers and was only available after school which makes it very difficult for students to get the help that they want or need. If I had to offer a serious suggestion to the school, I would suggest that the school start a peer tutoring class during the day for students to go to when they need extra help. When I was in high school, I had an open period. It would have been fun to help students that could have used the help that I could have provided so that tutors from outside school aren’t as relied on to help students. This project was very insightful as to how students understand tutoring and what might need to be worked on within the school.”
Krista: “The survey results were not that surprising, having noticed over the course of the term that most of the students who regularly attended tutoring were those that I had in the sheltered English class. I have learned that these students are so smart and hardworking, willing to go the extra mile to get help and become more successful with their English skills, which is really admirable. In general, I feel that the school does not do a very good job of advertising tutoring to their students, seeing how in the survey results many did not even know it existed or that they did not need to sign up for it. I think future capstone students who volunteer at Parkrose should take advantage of this information early on and help assist in getting the word out: letting teachers know, help making more noticeable signage, even getting a couple intercom notices out at the end of the school day. Tutoring is beneficial to every student and should be fully utilized.”
Janetta: “I found the results of the surveys informative. They helped to explain why there tended to be a small number of students in attendance during after-school tutoring. Many students from the science class wrote that they received aid from their teachers and peers which was good, but showed that tutoring was not an option that really crossed their minds. One student responded that they felt that the tutors did not have the knowledge of the subjects in which they needed assistance. This comment made me wonder if that may be part of the reason why some students only go their teachers and friends with scholastic questions. If there were a way to ensure that tutors had more varied in majors, expertise, spent more time with teachers, and were somewhat familiar with topics being taught in the school, the tutoring program could become more appealing to students. Educating teachers about after-school tutoring would also be a good idea. The teacher I worked with was confused about the tutoring schedule, and had to ask me for clarification. How can teachers promote, and build students’ confidence in tutors’ abilities if they are not well informed about the program? These two suggestions, if considered, could enhance Parkrose High School’s tutoring program and, in turn, their students’ learning.”