Saturday, April 9, 2011

H is for...


There are many libraries with homework help programs or tutoring programs for students. Oftentimes these programs are offered by volunteers on a weekly or biweekly basis and are very popular.

At the Logan Heights Library we offer a hybrid e-tutoring/mentoring program through a partnership with UC San Diego. Students from UCSD connect with Logan Heights Library students online and in person. The program is available Tuesday through Saturday at the library and can also be accessed on Mondays and additional hours from home. Our e-tutoring program connects students from the community with UCSD students for homework assistance as well as mentoring. Computers, web cameras, headsets and writing tablets are available at the library to make the online tutoring experience more personal and easy to use. In addition to access to tutors online, there is also one UCSD students on-site everyday during the hours of the program to help students connect online and provide homework assistance in person. The goal of this program and our partnership is to expand from a traditional homework help program by using technology to connect young students to college students that can serve as mentors, answer any questions they may have about college, and provide guidance of what they need to do now in the lower grades to be accepted to a four year university. Through this partnership we have also been able to offer open house events at the library with information about our tutoring program as well as informational booths from UCSD departments.

This program has only been in place for approximately 4 months but in that short period of time I have seen how it has helped students better their grades and make a personal connection with college students. We are now working with the schools to spread the word about the program by conducting tutorials for middle school classes in our computer lab where we provide a demonstration on how the program works and make sure that every student leaves with a login and password code to access the program at their convenience. We are also adding to the homework help experience by partnering with Volunteer San Diego to provide a group of volunteers in person for homework assistance once per week so that we can offer different tutoring options to community students.

In my recent and past experiences with homework help programs at different libraries, these are some helpful tips that have helped me establish and maintain a successful program:

  • Survey the needs of the community to figure out days and times that would work best for students needing tutoring assistance.

  • Have a clear structure of the program in mind before approaching individuals and organizations for their volunteer services.

  • Set clear guidelines and schedules for volunteers and make sure that all of the appropriate paperwork is on file before beginning the program.

  • Promote, promote promote! (in house, newsletters, schools, online, local businesses and organizations, after school programs and local media)

  • Establish partnerships with schools, volunteer groups, colleges and universities to implement a free homework assistance program.

  • Evaluate the program at different times to assess if changes or improvements need to be made to better serve the students.