Peer Tutoring: From Confusion to Confidence


Kaylin Baker

A tutoring session at Century College

You might know how academic stress looks but let us paint a picture. You are trying your hardest in a class, but you are not seeing any of your efforts bring results. You study as much as your brain can handle before becoming jelly, but on test day, you freeze. To you, the notes and tests might as well be written in a foreign language. All the stress and anxiety of college academics can lead someone to think, “Is this degree even worth it?” “Should I cut my losses and drop the class for now?” or even, “Am I too dumb for college?” None of these thoughts are true, but these questions are great examples of having difficulties handling class work.

Academic stress leads to a myriad of symptoms; for example, Yang Chunjiang et al. says that “College students experience adverse physical and psychological outcomes when they perceive excessive or negative stress. Excessive stress may induce physical impairments, including lack of energy, loss of appetite, headaches, or gastrointestinal problems.” I know I have felt a few of these symptoms when thinking about classes I had anxiety about going to, but what do we do about it? The root of the problem comes from not understanding the materials in class. You can go from not understanding the first few assignments to being completely lost in a forest of complex problems. But there is a hidden helpful path out; you might not know it’s available to you. For example, having a person, like a tutor, walk you through that forest of complex problems to understanding.

Tutoring session
A student receiving tutoring assistance

Tutors and sessions are structured for the student’s needs. For instance, you can have in-person or fully online tutoring sessions. I know what it feels like to have the same explanation given when you don’t understand it, but a tutor can provide multiple different viewpoints. As the tutor has been through a class like yours, or even the same one, they can provide tips and tricks to becoming successful in that class. Your specific class might have a tutor linked to classes (TLC), which is a designated tutor for one specific class. This tutor knows what assignments you have been doing and may have more detail on your class than a regular peer tutor. There is also access to online tutors not from Century College. Regardless of the tutoring you choose, you will start seeing a difference.

Joatan Tutor
One of Century College’s tutors, Joatan Silva Sampaio Neto

Once a student starts attending sessions, one great, often not known, outcome of tutoring is how students change their learning habits. A study by Jose L. Arco-Tirado and his colleagues tried to find out the impact of peer-tutoring programs in higher education. Their tests found that students who were tutored in all their subjects had an increase in their grade point average (GPA) by 58%. However, this was not the only thing affected by peer-tutoring. They also found that there were differences in how students planned to study, how they used study materials, and their overall performance in future classes without tutoring. This growth in studying and improvement in performance all starts with the first tutoring appointment.

We asked the Director of Tutors Linked to Classes and Peer Tutoring at Century College questions relating to the programs available, and the results are surprising. Century College has 8.5 thousand students, but tutors linked to classes have 372 unique students, and peer tutoring has 255 scheduled appointments. If we assume each appointment from peer tutoring is a unique student, then only around seven percent of students take advantage of tutoring at Century College. Also to remind you that seven percent is an exceedingly rounded number because we assumed the peer tutoring appointments were unique students, so the real percentage is even lower. These numbers were higher pre-COVID, but it’s shocking to see how many people are not taking advantage of these free resources. However, those who do take advantage of tutoring see benefits. For courses with an assigned TLC, there was an improvement in GPA by four percent and a four percent higher credit completion rate when compared to courses without a TLC tutor. If a four percent average difference can be made for the whole class, think about how large a difference one-on-one tutoring made for the students in those courses who were the few choosing to get tutoring. In general, tutoring helps Century students, but they need to take advantage of it to see a difference.

Century College tutor Joatan Silva Sampaio Neto

All of Century College’s tutoring program is free, paid for by your tuition, available for many subjects that deal with math, science, English, or even learning how to study efficiently. You might ask, “How do I get started?” Well, you start with the easiest part, have questions or struggle in a class. Once that has been achieved, you can go to the Century College website, under support services, in Academic support you can find different subjects and the Academic Support Center; alternatively, you can click right here.

The Academic Support Center has online and in-person support for most subjects and classes. There is also a list of subjects which shows different resources for that subject. For example, where the writing or science centers are on campus. These resources are always available, and their hours or scheduling services can also be found on the Academic Support Center’s page or right here.

Tutoring is the pathway from confusion to confidence. The only thing between you and confidence is signing up for the first session.