Free online tutoring available through MyPortal2 min read

Vast majority of students not taking advantage of tool

Cati Meyer, Staff Reporter

Since the beginning of spring quarter, De Anza College has offered its students free online tutoring through their “MyPortal” account.

The tutoring services are provided through “Smarthinking,” which is coordinated and funded through De Anza’s Distance Learning Center and Student Success Center.

“Smarthinking” allows students to interact with live tutors, submit questions or papers and receive feedback within 24 hours.

Students who take online classes or late evening classes at De Anza and are not able to reach the campus for in-person tutoring sessions should benefit from the program.

“We want to give those students the same opportunities and services that our on-campus students get,” said Melissa Aguilar, co-director of the Student Success Center.

Aguilar said 80 percent of students have been using “Smarthinking” at the end of the day between 9 p.m. and 3 a.m.

More than 40 subjects are offered on “Smarthinking,” with live tutors available several hours per day or upon pre-scheduled request.

The most popular subjects are math, chemistry, physics and accounting, as well as the essay center and the grammar and documentation review.

Due to the difficulty of tutoring math online, a majority of the math tutors are available 24/7 to help students in live chats in areas such as algebra, calculus and statistics.

“Students have to understand that ‘Smarthinking’ is not a homework machine,” Aguilar said. “Simply submitting homework questions and getting them solved is not going to work.”

All tutors are certified and provided by “Smarthinking.” Over 90 percent have an advanced degree and are instructors at two or four year institutions.

Profiles of the tutors can be found on the “Smarthinking” website.

Luke Truong, 20, electrical engineering and physics major is skeptical of “Smarthinking.”  He attempted a session in calculus but was disconnected.

“I think it’s helpful for writing classes,” Truong said. “But when subjects start requiring diagrams of problems to answer questions, it doesn’t seem to be very effective.”

“The program is great for people who can’t make it to campus,” Truong said. “But not up to par with face to face teaching and the awesome tutors we have on campus.”

“Smartinking” counted 71 users in the first two weeks, a number that could potentially increase soon as more students begin to learn about the program.

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