The 'Joyful Process' of Peer Tutoring

Some of MCLA's Trailblazer Tutors.MCLA students (left to right) Daniel Kelson, Julia Parker, and Crystal Wojcik are among the College's team of Trailblazer Tutors, students who help their peers with academic coursework through the Center for Student Success and Engagement. 

This year, MCLA’s 23 student tutors helped more than 100 of their peers gain a deeper understanding of all kinds of class materials, from software development to accounting and radiographic positioning.

MCLA’s Center for Student Success and Engagement has helped match tutors with students requesting help for years, but saw an increased demand this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “I’m so impressed with the resiliency of these tutors, especially this past semester,” said Cassie Rochelo ’12, MCLA’s academic support coordinator. “They are themselves navigating through this pandemic, and still extending help to their peers. They figured out how to learn online, and once they did, said to their fellow students, ‘let me share my knowledge with you.’” 

“I love being able to help those who take the initiative to better their learning experience,” said Julia Parker ’21, an English/communications major who tutors students in Mathematics for the Liberal Arts. “If you’re struggling with a course, or just need an extra boost in study tips, don’t be afraid to request a tutor because they can be a huge help.”

“I like tutoring because I like helping folks learn,” said Dan Kelson ’22, a computer science major who tutors students in software development and network administration courses. “I have a passion for these subjects and I like to share in that passion.”

Rochelo trains the tutors each semester on critical thinking and how to ask their fellow students questions that will help independently prompt their own thinking. She also makes sure they have training on working with people from all backgrounds and making sure tutorials, whether in a group or one-on-one, are a safe and welcoming place.

Tutorials aren’t just for students who need serious help with classwork. “It’s also an opportunity for you to set aside some structured study time to hold yourself accountable with peers,” Rochelo said. In Fall 2019, 78% of students enrolled in tutorials earned a C or better in the classes for which they attended tutoring sessions; many students also enroll in a tutorial to bring a B grade up to an A, or get a refresher on materials before a final. 

“Tutoring is a great way to get a different perspective on things within a class, and I just love helping people in subjects that I enjoy,” said Bryanna McKearney ’22, a double major in psychology and biology who tutors for biology, psychology, and statistics classes. “You don’t need to be struggling to get a tutor; you can get a tutor to boost your grade to where you want it or even if you’re having a bit of trouble with a topic. That’s what makes it so awesome!” 

Tutoring is a paid on-campus job, and Rochelo is currently hiring for the spring 2021 semester. Applicants need to have two faculty recommendations and at least a 2.5 GPA and a minimum grade of B in the class they’d like to tutor. Students interested in applying can access the job listing through MCLA’s student employment page.

“It fills my cup when a tutor says to me ‘my tutee got a 90 on their exam! They really get it!” said Rochelo. “It’s a joyful process. I can’t remember a time where I haven’t felt good about helping somebody, and seeing them have that reward and want to do it again is a great feeling.”