Learning isn’t easy for everyone. Especially when students transition from K-12 school to higher education, they may encounter material and expectations that seem overwhelming or new, making it difficult to feel successful.
Tutoring is often the answer for these struggling students, and the majority of colleges have on campus tutoring centers that provide assistance to undergraduates.
But with online education, or e-learning, becoming such a prevalent component of higher education, it’s important to also consider the students who take classes online and never set foot on campus.
In a research article for U.S. News & World Report, experts explain that the coronavirus pandemic has likely permanently increased opportunities for e-learning. These trends suggest that colleges will begin offering more virtual degree programs, as well as other virtual spaces and programming for students. And while some students will return to campus post-COVID-19, many will continue to choose online learning (Friedman & Moody, 2021).
Though tutoring is often viewed as a way to supplement course content and help students with their academic success, a tutor can provide much more comprehensive services to e-learning students.
The right virtual platform connects e-learners to tutors, ultimately enriching their lives and college experience, no matter how physically distant they are from campus.
Here are the ways tutoring benefits online students:
Communicates Important Information
In a study conducted at the University of South Africa, researchers asked e-tutors to rank the roles they spent the most time on with students, and the role they felt was most important. In both categories, e-tutors identified their main role as “informative” (de Metz & Bezuidenhout, 2018).
Professors can use synchronous class time and asynchronous communication to relay important course information to e-learners. But when a student’s learning environment is physically distant from their college, they miss out on the sort of information that most in-person students receive through posters or word of mouth.
According to a literature review by Muljana & Luo (2019), effective communication is one of the suggested strategies for helping to increase retention rates in online learning. Their findings suggest the importance of communication for the lives of e-learners.
After all, tutoring provides e-learners with a connection to their campus and a person who can answer their questions, suggest appropriate contacts, and explain aspects of higher education culture and experiences.
Forms Connections Between the Students and Staff
Imagine a student who starts freshman year on campus. He meets the other freshmen who live in his dorm, sits next to new friends in classes, and finds clubs and activities to keep him busy and engaged.
But a freshman starting her higher education experience online is sitting alone in her work area, connected to other freshmen only through the screen of her computer.
Colleges have their own communities and cultures that often attract and retain undergraduates, but a computer screen can’t provide the same environment as face to face interactions. So for online education students, tutoring is an ideal opportunity to engage in these learning communities (Bean, et al., 2019).
Engagement helps all students feel involved and invested in their academics, so even those who are physically distant can benefit from the connections gained through a tutor who is a consistent and reliable connection to the campus.
Contributes to Student Success
Online tutors can perform many of the same functions as face-to-face tutors, including helping students develop the skills they need to successfully complete course assignments. E-learning students can use tutors for help with organizing course information, conducting research and writing papers, and preparing for assessments (Bean, et al., 2019).
But even beyond course content and academic knowledge, a tutor provides assistance with other skills an e-learner needs, such as successfully navigating the college’s learning management system, accessing digital library resources, and checking credit and course requirements.
All of these skills contribute to a student’s ability to successfully complete assignments, earn credits, and graduate with a degree. And early interventions through support services like a tutor can be a strategy to retain online students in their degree programs (Muljana & Luo, 2019)
Overcoming Barriers to Accessing Campus Resources
Some e-learners may make occasional trips to their institution of higher learning to access needed resources like the library or meet face to face with academic advisers.
Unfortunately, many students participating in e-learning programs have physical challenges or disabilities that impair their ability to access on-campus resources. Online tutoring services provide a needed extension of these resources to e-learning students (Bean, et al., 2019).
All students deserve access to the support they need to be successful, and tutoring helps create this equitable and inclusive learning environment.
Tutoring is an overwhelmingly critical component to an e-learner’s college experience.
Tutors bridge physical distance and provide needed information, connections, and skills that help students find success in higher education and feel like part of a higher education community.