Geneseo partakes in online tutoring initiative

Geneseo has become involved in the consortium of colleges of STAR-NY, an online tutoring program started by SUNY Cortland in 2014. In joining the program, Geneseo aims to increase tutoring opportunities for students. 

Through STAR-NY 22 colleges in the SUNY system collaborate, share resources and work together to ensure academic support to students who require it, according to Dean of Academic Planning and Advising and professor of English Celia Easton. 

The online portion of the program allows for tutors and tutored students to work together from 7 p.m. to midnight, when most campus learning centers might be closed, according to Easton. 

“One of the things they can offer is later hours,” Easton said. “If you are in your room doing homework until 11:30 p.m., every other writing and learning center on campus is closed, but you could still go on to STAR-NY … There are a lot of athletes who have schedules in which they can’t make it to regular learning centers, so this can help with those students.”

The offer to include other colleges in STAR-NY was extended when SUNY Cortland received the opportunity to apply for a grant through SUNY, according to Easton. Geneseo became part of the consortium during the fall 2017 semester, and plans to add on the service as a complement to current on-campus tutoring opportunities, according to Easton. 

The service works through an interactive interface, referred to as a Whiteboard. Students interested in receiving help in any of the covered subject areas can join a queue and once invited in by a tutor, students can enter their problem up on the digital Whiteboard to receive step-by-step guidance, according to Easton. 

This service is another option for students who struggle with either the timing of on-campus tutoring opportunities or want to use another resource.  

Geneseo sends a tutor to be part of the consortium, as do the other partner colleges. The tutor’s teaching styles are similar to the training received by tutors on campus for the learning centers, which helped push the decision for the college to become involved in the program, according to Easton.

STAR-NY covers subject areas primarily in the mathematics, science or writing departments, and is most useful for students who are starting out in introductory courses, rather than third or fourth year students studying specific subject areas, according to Easton. 

The college will have access to data at the end of the semester in order to analyze the ways in which students are using the services and its benefits. With that data, Geneseo can determine how useful the program is to students, according to Easton. 

STAR-NY is another supplement to academic instruction utilized by students, according to Transitional Opportunity Program Counselor Beverly Henke-Lofquist. 

“I am familiar with students using apps and all kinds of resources,” she said. “It’s amazing how resourceful students are using Khan Academy and things change so swiftly.” 

The college pays a minimal amount every year for the use of the Whiteboard and has no plans on altering most of the current tutoring systems on campus. 

“The Writing Learning Center again is a good kind of parallel of the work that can be done there, but some students are much more comfortable doing a face to face encounter so we’re never going to limit the face to face encounters,” Easton said. “All of the [studies] tell us that students respond really well to peer-to-peer education, whether that’s online or face-to-face.”