Students build a bridge out of art supplies
Data-driven tutoring, like the BGSU STEM TIME camp shown above, is a key part of the teacher education program at BGSU, which has drawn the attention of both lawmakers and national publications. (BGSU photo/Craig Bell)

'This is not your grandmother's tutoring' | BGSU teacher education program recognized for dedication to providing high-impact tutoring

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Data-driven tutoring programs at BGSU, which match pre-service teachers with local K-12 students, provide key service for northwestern Ohio school districts

Bowling Green State University took an innovative approach to personalized learning that is paying dividends for local K-12 partner school districts: BGSU built high-impact, data-driven tutoring directly into its teacher education curriculum.

More than 180 pre-service teachers from BGSU have served as tutors during the past three years, a method that is addressing a key area of need for northwestern Ohio school districts by helping students make tangible gains in tested subjects like math and reading.

Dr. Dawn Shinew, dean of the College of Education and Human Development, said advances in technology have completely revamped tutoring, and now BGSU can perform an additional public service for partner districts by providing targeted help from qualified tutors directly to local students.

Data consistently shows the practice works for everyone, as pre-service teachers tend to be effective tutors who gain additional experience, while K-12 students enrolled in the tutoring programs often make measurable gains in crucial content areas.

“It’s not tutoring and teaching – tutoring is teaching, and increasingly, teaching is tutoring,” Shinew said. “Tutoring has come a long way because we now have a lot of data about students, we know how to use data differently and we have technology available that gives us access to high-quality instructional materials.

“This is not the kind of tutoring where a volunteer sits with a young learner and listens to them read. A phrase I have found myself using often is, ‘This is not your grandmother’s tutoring.’”

The approach has garnered the attention of national publications and lawmakers from both parties, with whom Shinew and BGSU School of Inclusive Education Director Dr. Tracy Huziak-Clark met in Washington through Deans for Impact, a coalition of education deans throughout the United States.

Teacher candidates are trained on tutoring practices during their undergraduate studies at BGSU, which has proven to be a sensible answer to one of the issues facing post-pandemic education.

Partly due to coronavirus-related disruptions in 2020 and 2021, educational gaps persist for some students, and most districts do not have tutors on staff.

BGSU is helping to address those gaps by pairing students from partner districts with pre-service teachers – a highly trained tutor who has access to curriculum-aligned course materials and consults with individual districts to meet state standards for grade level.

The meetings, which take place three times per week for at least 30 minutes and can be conducted virtually, allow students to receive individualized attention with proven results.

“The single most popular request from partner districts is tutoring,” Huziak-Clark said. “Districts recognize that one-to-one tutoring is one of the most effective ways to help students make gains. Teacher candidates are ideal tutors, as they understand the content and have learned skills such as personalizing the learning experience to meet the needs of the individual child.

“This also helps the teacher candidate, as they are able to practice skills like record keeping, data analysis and engaging learners when they tutor.”

State and federal funding has brought additional financial support for paid tutoring, which not only helps teacher candidates graduate with less debt, but to do so while gaining relevant experience that improves their abilities as a teacher.

Shinew said one additional idea floated to lawmakers was to relax restrictions on federal work-study eligibility, which she said could greatly expand the pool of qualified tutors and create an additional pipeline to teaching.

“There’s a public service component to tutoring, so part of the conversation we were having with lawmakers is about loosening those restrictions, so in addition to the student who is already eligible, could we open it up to a university student serving a high-need district and having a public impact?” she said.

Due to the data-driven nature of both assessing which students need tutoring and the measurable gains that result from high-impact tutoring, Shinew said she hopes legislators will see tutoring as a worthy investment into education.

“I’d like them to see tutoring as a good investment, not just for teachers being trained, but perhaps more importantly, for young learners who had quite a disruption during COVID and are still recovering from it,” she said. “Down the line, I hope this will help us reshape the way we think about teaching and learning.”

On graduation day, Shinew said she always asks BGSU education graduates about what the program did well during their college career.

In recent years, she said, many teacher candidates mentioned how much seeing students grow during tutoring inspired them as they prepared to be full-time educators.

“We talk about BGSU being a public university for the public good, and this is an ultimate public good,” Shinew said. “We rely on our district partners for placements, for methods, for different forms of student teaching, and this has given us an opportunity to give back to them.”

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Media Contact | Michael Bratton | | 419-372-6349

Updated: 06/18/2024 04:05PM