How to Develop a Peer Tutoring Growth Strategy

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Chelsea Waite, Senior Researcher at the Center on Reinventing Public Education, joins the podcast to discuss the research and student outcomes benefits of peer tutoring initiatives.

Peers and near peers. So studentswho are perhaps not exactly on your level but you know a step or twoahead, are overlooked but an immensally undervalued resource in terms of academic, socialguidance and mental health support. You're listening to enrollment growth university from Helix Education, the best professional development podcast for higher education leaders looking to grow enrollment attheir college or university. Whether you're looking for fresh enrollment growth techniques and strategiesor tools and resources, you've come to the right place. Let's get intothe show. Welcome back to enrollment growth university, a proud member of theconnect ETU podcast network. I'm Eric Olson with Helix Education and we're here todaywith Chelsea Waite, senior researcher at the Center for Reinventing Public Education. Chelsea, welcome to the show. Thanks so much. Ark. Really excited totalk to you today about developing a peer...

...tutoring growth strategy. But before wedig in, can you give the listeners a little background on both the Centerfor Reinventing Public Education and your role there? Yeah, the summer on reinventing publiceducation is house at the University of Washington Bostel and has almost a thirtyyear history of investigating really critical questions having to do with improving kate twelve education. I am only very recently senior researcher there and recently prior to that Iwas a researcher at the Christians and institute on Their Education Team, looking intomostly k twelve and then increasingly towards the end, some post secondary questions,which led me to this research on peer networks. Well, huge congrats onthe new role. I know we're going to be tapping into that Christians andresearch backgrounds later in the conversation. To kick us off to HLC, canyou get us an overview on the sheer logistical limitations of college faculty alone fullytrying to support both the academic and personal...

...struggles of their students? Yeah,well, I mean full credit to so many college faculty who are so committedto being support for their students and if it were only an issue of thelimitations of faculty support, I think the problem would be even worse than itis. Unfortunately, what I saw when I was researching this paper on peernetworks is that campuses are actually running up against shortages in support staff and studentservices as well so we think about, you know, these student service departmentshaving come into being in order to really directly support the needs of students inways that faculty just don't have the capacity to do with the scale of studentsand Book Secondary Right now. But even those support services are running into issuesof not being able to scale without either becoming really expensive or sort of toobig for the number of students who are neating support. And with that supportchallenge reality remind us of your recent research...

...findings at the Christians and institute onthe potential of peer to peer support. Yeah, well, so I'll goback for one second and give I had a great conversation with someone great digitalhealth who, which is the sort of parent company of you at College.His name is Nathan Demers, and he talked about how, when he wasa clinician in, you know, student support services, a therapist, hetalked about how, you know, his case load of sixty students just didn'tmatch up with the twenty twinic hours he had per week. He's just said, the math doesn't work out. And we know that the number of studentsseeking counseling in particular has doubled on some campuses in the last five years,and so that in the mental health arena, but I think we see that acrosscareer services and other areas of student support, including tutoring, and somy recent research at the Christians in institute was really focused on the potential ofpeer to peer model or models that leverage peer network in order to support studentsand address that real scale challenge. So...

...what we are hypothesis going in andfrankly one that was confirmed through the research that I did, was that peersand near peers, so you know, students who are perhaps not exactly onyour level but a little, you know, a step or two ahead, areoverlooked but and immensely undervalued resource in terms of academic, social guidance andmental health support. We know already from the research that positive peer dynamics supportlearning and for social behavior. We know that negative peer dynamics and hahibit thosesame things. We know that friendships and positive peer networks impact students social emotionalwellbeing, their academic progress their career success. And we also know that peers alreadythey're a really significant influence on students academic and career decisions, sometimes evenmore than formal career services and yet these sort of resources contained in those peernetworks, or in other words social capital,...

...are often sort of left to chanceby colleges. Can you talk about the scalability challenges of this one toone peer to peer tutoring model? Is it difficult to recruit these peers andnear peers at scale? You know from the folks who I was interviewing abouttoturing specifically, and and also some other services, frankly, that the answerseem to be no, that they found it fairly easy to recruit students andthe model appeared to be pretty scalable. So I'll give you an ample froma company called Knack, which is sort of La. They're focused on peerto peer tutoring for colleges. NAP partners with the University of Florida and ina case study that they did with the university, they were able to helpthe university increases peer tutoring hours from a thousand five hundred to nine thousand hoursin a single semester, reaching fifteen percent...

...of the student body. And oneof the things that's really interesting about that is that forty two percent of thoseonline tutoring sessions with peers happened outside of traditional work hours. So I thinksome of the barriers that we see with traditional student services that are staffed byprofessional is that not only is it a one to one model, but it'salso sort of have to happen during like hours where professionals are working, andyet we know that college students are sort of coming running up into needs potentiallyat all hours. Right. So that ability for this on demand peer topeer tutoring to Hap an outside of traditional work hours seemed to be a reallypositive elements of nax model. Knack also found with us that sixty three percentof the students who ended up using MAC had never before asked access campus tutoring, and we saw some of those same kinds of staff with another, youknow, a couple other models that we left at. One in particular onpeer to peer mental health support. There are students are seeking peer to peermental health support at at all hours whenever...

...they happen to feel vulnerable, andmany of the students who ended up using that peer to peer mental health supportplatform had never sought out counseling and many of them even said that they hadnot. They weren't talking to anybody in their social circles, family or friendsabout the struggles they were having. So they're really managing to reach students whootherwise are not being reached by these services. There's a lot of interesting things aboutthis model, the hourly realities of these students being more timely, timefriendly with current students, potentially less intimidation in terms of going to a peerversus going to an adult. Yeah, and I think it's important to saythat like this should not be thought of in most cases as a substitute forprofessional services to support students, especially when for students who are having particularly difficultchallenges that are that are harder to solve.

But I think there's a quote fromthe founder of Nack, the peer to peer tutoring program, that Ithink is illustrative here, where he told us that Nack is trying to allowinstitutions to set up more distributed systems so that students can connect directly with eachother for support. And so the idea of one more distributed student support modelthat leverages peer to peer networks that, frankly, are already being used bystudents, just not in a particularly deliberate or strategic way by the university,is really promising. From what we found yeah, let's clarify that. Sothere's some levels of support that a peer might not be qualified for dealing withmental health struggles efficient and effective and strategic career coaching. What are and whatis that peer to peer support that you're hoping that peer and your peer focuseson? Yeah, I'll give an example here and I think there are.There are certainly. Let's talk about mental health for a second as a goodexample, because I think there's a lot of justified concern about like we can'tjust throw students into these really challenging mental...

...health situations with their peers, andI think one interesting model for facing that is a company called together all,which has an online and moderated peer to peer support network. The moderated pieceis really critical because they have twenty four hour moderation by clinicians who are ableto, you know, intervene or to recommend, sort of flag students whoseem to be really needing more support, and they can either be a supportfor those students directly or they've partnered with the campuses that where they work tomake sure that they have the right information to be able to steer those studentstowards the professional services that exist on campus. So there's this sort of broad,scalable, really distributed peer to peer network for students who are who justwant to be able to come online and say like, honestly, I'm strugglingand I feel lonely or I'm I ca can't really manage my stress right now, and other students, frankly, seem...

...to really love to onto that.There are documented therapy to benefits both to giving and receiving support. And I'llsort of reference a different conversation now. This is not with together all,but with another founder of a peer to peer mental health support platform that wetalked to. He was saying that in their user interviews they found that there'sactually sort of a supply demand problem in terms of more supply of students wantingto offer their peers support but not knowing where to do that and how tohow to find those channels. So I actually think that there's great you know, we worry about sort of overburdening students potentially, but offering support to theirpeers might actually be something that students want to do. I love the model. I love the promise. Chel see any final next steps. Advice forinstitutions listening to this considering scaling their peer to peer support strategies. Where shouldthey start? Yeah, so one place...

...that I'd encourage institution to not dismissedand perhaps even a place to start, is looking at models that leverage onlineconnections in some way, and one of the court or take ways of thepaper on peer to peer networks is that online connections should be thought of asa real innovation opportunity and not a downgrade from facetoface connection. I think weassume that when students are in person on campus there will just see these sortof serendipitous hallway encounters in which every student will find their people and find theirpeer networks. But with online connections in particular there's an opportunity to be muchmore deliberate and, frankly, more data driven in terms of ensuring that everysingle student is not just connected to peers but also has opportunities to connect withpeers for these specific kinds of support that they need. So that's I thinkone place where I'd recommend starting. Another...

...recommendation that came through in the paperis that he's really I meant him this earlier, but the what's happening inpeer networks is that students are tapping into a kind of social capital where thereare resources that are contained in peer relationships and peer networks. And so whencollege as are thinking about the potential for peer to peer support, I wouldsay don't just broker contact between peers really deliberately designed to foster relationships, andI think we all know the maxim that you know, what gets measured getsdone, and so I think if you're if you're not putting in place,at least over time, I'm some strategy for trying to gage the nature andthe quality of relationships that students are developing with each other, there's a missedopportunity, especially because then you know you may not optimize for those relationships overtime if you're if you're not able to kind of see the progress that you'remaking. And then last last thing here. This is sort of maybe something that'sobvious to folks, but I think...

...really worth saying that sometimes, whenwe think about the relationships that are most valuable to sort of put into studentshands, the first ones that come to mind are like older mentors or industryconnections or you know other kinds of like farther afield relationships than peer one,because those can often deliver, like job opportunities, for example. But ofcourse, a moment in time peer, someone who's really at your level,can become extremely valuable in those other ways down the road. In fact,that Christians and to do recently published a paper on alumni networks where they're makingrecommendations on how to leverage alumni for their their networks, for the social capitalthat's inherent within them, not just for their net worth, where you know, college is often think about alumni in terms of financial opportunities. Chelsea,thank you so much for your time and thoughts today. What's the best placefor listeners to reach out if they have any follow up questions? Yeah,for sure. My Mail is the Waie...

...at you w dot Eedu, andI'd also encourage books to go to who you know dot org, which isthe Christians and institute hub for their social capital research, and there's a tonmore. They're including a link to this peer networks paper that I led.That will get folks a good background in this area. Awesome, Chelsea.Thanks so much for joining us today. Thank you, Eric. Attracting today'snew post traditional learners means adopting new enrollment strategies. Kelix educations data driven,enterprise wide approach to enrollment growth is uniquely helping colleges and universities thrive in thisnew education landscape, and Helix has just published the second edition of their enrollmentgrowth playbook with fifty percent brand new content on how institutions can solve today's mostpressing enrollment growth challenges. Downloaded today for free at Helix Educationcom. Playbook.You've been listening to enrollment growth university from...

Helix Education. To ensure that younever miss an episode, subscribe to the shown itunes or your favorite podcast player. Thank you so much for listening. Until next time.

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