Peer tutoring will be available both in-person and online at locations such as the Speakers Lab. Photo by Francie Wilson.
ANNIE FAULKNER | ASSISTANT NEWS EDITOR | firstname.lastname@example.org
As Butler students and faculty alike adjust to the fall 2020 semester, classes are taking shape in a variety of different ways. Some classes are entirely virtual, others are entirely in-person and many are somewhere in between. Despite this inconsistency, academic resources such as peer tutoring are still available for students.
The Speakers Lab
The Speakers Lab specializes in helping students prepare for presentations and speeches. This year, the lab will be offering both in-person and online sessions for students, which can last either a half-hour or a full hour. Students can sign up for an appointment on the Speakers Lab page.
In-person appointments will be socially distanced, with tutors and students sitting at least six feet apart at all times. Tutors will wipe down surfaces after each appointment, and students who are looking for help with group presentations will be restricted to online appointments over Zoom.
Sally Perkins, the director of the Speakers Lab and an adjunct professor at Butler, said even though many students are navigating online classes semester, the tutors at the Speakers Lab have recently undergone training to help students navigate presentations over Zoom.
“Our tutors are trained to be able to give those tips and recommendations to students who are either doing pre-recorded presentations, or who are presenting via Zoom,” Perkins said.
The Speakers Lab tutors have also published an online video full of tips and tricks for presenting in an online format.
Mariesa LaRosa, a senior communication sciences and disorders major, is a co-student manager of the Speakers Lab this year. She said that while the tutors are still getting accustomed to online learning, the tutoring process has not been drastically different from previous years.
“As long as we have some form to communicate with each other, the actual lab operations are fairly similar to what they were pre-COVID-era,” LaRosa said.
The Modern Language Center
For students who are currently enrolled in foreign language classes, the Modern Language Center is also currently open for tutoring. The center is open for in-person instruction from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. on Mondays-Thursdays and until 2 p.m. on Fridays, and tutors have various virtual tutoring hours after the Jordan Hall location closes each evening. These hours for the in-person center are shorter than they were previously, but the virtual tutoring hours in the evenings compensate for the in-person time that is lost.
To accommodate for social distancing, only one person is allowed to sit at each table in the MLC. Additionally, the snacks and drinks that used to be available to students will no longer be provided. Information about each week’s tutoring sessions is sent out in an email to all students enrolled in foreign language classes.
Manny Alarcon Nava, a sophomore majoring in multilingual studies, political science and history, is a tutor at the MLC. He said many students have been taking advantage of the virtual tutoring hours, and that the virtual format seems to make students feel more comfortable amid the current circumstances. However, he said he has not seen as many students as normal in the physical location.
“I’ve noticed that in person, the way that we have it set up, it’s kind of weird,” Alarcon Nava said. “If a student wants us to look over their homework, or their piece of paper together or their computer screen, it’s a little bit odd because there’s only one seat per table.”
Alarcon Nava said that while it is often more difficult to learn from classes over Zoom, having a resource like the MLC could help students truly learn and retain information during this time.
The Writers’ Studio
The Writers’ Studio, a resource for students looking for help with writing and editing papers, is also open in both a socially-distanced, in-person format, as well as online.
Sunny Hawkins, the faculty director of the Writers’ Studio, said that the studio is offering three types of appointments: in-person appointments, synchronous appointments over Zoom and asynchronous online appointments during which tutors will send papers back to students with comments.
“We know that not all students are comfortable coming into the studio in-person, and not all tutors, who are also students, are comfortable coming into the studio in person,” Hawkins said.
Hawkins said that with many classes now in an online format, it is more important now than ever to visit the Writers’ Studio. She said many classes now feature online discussion boards, but not many students think to ask for help with these assignments.
“It’s quite likely that their instructor has expectations for how that discussion board post is going to read,” Hawkins said.
She also said that while appointments are still happening, the studio is not getting the foot traffic it normally receives. She credits this to the fact that with social distancing, the studio is not as lively as it was before the pandemic.
“The Writers’ Studio is a place where you often come in and you just find people hanging out, playing a game of Bananagrams or drinking coffee while they work on their papers,” Hawkins said. “People aren’t walking by and seeing the studio busy, and hearing the laughter and the great conversations and thinking ‘I really ought to go there,’” Hawkins said.
Hawkins said she thinks that students are overwhelmed with the logistics of their classes and the general uncertainty of everyday life amid the current circumstances. She said while this situation can make it easy to not want to do anything extra outside of class, making a tutoring appointment is more important now than ever.
“Don’t think of a tutoring appointment as something extra that you have to pack into your day, but think of it as something that’s really important for your academic development, and something that might also make the world feel a little more normal,” Hawkins said.