Student Success Center adjusts to online tutoring, aims to teach students despite pandemic


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Roselle Lagmay, Reporter

The Student Success Center, as a result of the campus closure, is offering virtual tutoring sessions through Zoom video chats, in an effort to continue assistance for students during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Diana Alves De Lima and Melissa Aguilar, co-directors of the Student Success Center, have been teaching tutors and wanted to make sure that tutors and students would be in a supported and supervised environment.

“We started scrambling about a million miles a minute to try to get it set up right away for the end of winter quarter because we knew that students depended on tutoring to prepare for their final exams and their final essays,” Alves de Lima said.“There were a lot of stressed-out students so we just really kicked into gear and I think that first week right after shutdown we trained dozens and dozens, over 100 tutors.”

Jim Zhen, 19, political science major and tutor said as a new tutor, one of the biggest challenges has been adapting to teaching students online.

“It’s better if you can sit next to the student and they can tell you if they understand the concept or not, but through online, it’s not easy,” he said.

Alves de Lima said there are about 225 tutors per quarter and 1,471 students and instructors are enrolled in SSC resources on Canvas.

“All of our tutorings are under the Student Success Center,” she said. “General subjects, language, math and science are available for weekly individual, drop-in or group tutoring.”

Alves de Lima said that balancing workload as a tutor can be difficult.

“Not all tutors are working maximum hours, some of them have stepped back because they found their own classwork being more demanding with everything being online,” she said.

Yuetong Zhang, 18, liberal arts major and tutor, also said that adjusting to teaching online has been difficult.

“It is harder to convey grammar concepts over a screen, and especially personally, I speak a lot with my hands, and I try to illustrate things,” she said. “There is a lot of emotion and energy that I have to try really hard to convey to the camera.”

In addition to tutoring online, tutors have said that different time zones for students in their home country have become an issue in the success of the tutoring.

Tutoring and mentoring are still available to De Anza international students who have returned to their home country, but the differing timezones can make synchronous classes and tutoring difficult

“I tutored some students where it is 3 a.m. in Japan and they have to wake up just to get tutored,” Jasmine Ngo, 20, psychology major and tutor, said.

The SSC also acts as a platform to connect with other students through virtual workshops and gain extra resources.

“The skills workshop is led by us tutors at the SSC and we share experiences, how we organize our time, managing our time, organizing schedules so that we’re on task and everything,” said Ngo. “We’re not there to lecture them, we’re there to share and help them share as well because we believe that it is best to learn from each other and it is like a platform for them to talk about what they struggle with and what they do well.”

Zhang said that tutoring for the SSC has made an impact on both the tutors and students.
As tutors are getting adjusted into Zoom tutoring, more students are becoming regulars.

“You also see some students who come for the first time in the WRC at the beginning of the quarter then you see they keep coming,” said Zhang. “They see that we’re helping them and you see a familiar name and they always show up, I think we’re doing something right, as long as we have people who trust us in the long run.”

Zhang also said that students should reach out to the SSC if they are struggling.

“A big thing that I keep wanting to say to friends and people that I talk to is that it’s OK to not always be on top of your game, especially since we’re all kind of dealing with the same situation,” Zhang said. “It’s OK to be kind yourself. You can’t expect yourself to be a robot and be constantly turning out ‘A’ papers and assignments.”