Peers engaged in reinforcing your knowledge and skills

The Carl D. Perkins grant, designed to support college students in vocational majors, is currently providing funds to provide tutoring for students in Criminal Justice, Digital-Media Technology, Electrical Technology, Health Studies, Nursing, and Radiological Technology at Fulton-Montgomery Community College.  Students in these majors often enter directly in to the local workforce upon completion of their programs, fulfilling employer needs in our counties.

Excellent second year students are hired as tutors to guide first year attendees through the demands of these curricula.  PERKS tutors undergo training to help prepare them to guide the students they work with toward success.  Tutors communicate with students weekly using BlackBoard, our campus learning management platform, to remind them to come to tutoring and to share class resources. 

Group tutoring sessions meet twice weekly, with additional one-to-one sessions available for those students needing extra help.  Attendance at tutoring sessions is voluntary, but highly promoted by instructors, academic support and the tutors themselves.  Throughout the semester, Academic support staff shares average grade comparisons between students who choose to attend tutoring and those who do not with class members and instructors; typically, students who attend have higher grades, serving as an incentive to join the tutoring session.

Providing services right from the beginning of the semester helps students build improved study and time management skills for these challenging programs.  PERKS tutors help students form learning communities to help support each other throughout their program.  As a result, several programs experienced better student learning outcomes and retention based on final grades and re-enrollment.  For example, first year nursing students are required to get a 90 on their math exam to meet program requirements.  Those who attended PERKS scored an average of 90 of their math test with only two students in this group needing to retake the test, whereas those who did not attend scored an average of 84.5 with 14 students in this group needing to retake the test.  Electrical Technology students who attended PERKS sessions had a 95 percent retention rate last semester.  These are only a few examples of the success rates for students who attend PERKS.

This past semester, Perkins sponsored the presence of a social media platform within class groups.  The goal: to provide a virtual meeting place for busy students to ask questions, experience support, and find resources within just a few clicks online.  A tutor monitored these interactions within the course setting to stimulate discussion and reinforce good study habits.  Current educators considered these students to be digital natives, because they have grown up in a technology-enhanced world (Prensky, 2012).  On-line social media delivery of academic support aligns with these students’ communication preferences and their busy life schedules.

These are just two examples of how students at FM receive academic support.  The Learning Center at FM provides a wide array of FREE tutoring and resources options to helps students succeed, graduate, and take their place in jobs throughout our community.  Stop by and visit us in the Evans Library at Fulton-Montgomery Community College.

Ellie Fosmire is Academic success coordinator at FM.