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 students who are perhaps not exactly on your level but you know a step or two ahead, are overlooked but an immensally undervalued resource in terms of academic, social guidance 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 at their college or university. Whether you're looking for fresh enrollment growth techniques and strategies or tools and resources, you've come to the right place. Let's get into the show. Welcome back to enrollment growth university, a proud member of the connect ETU podcast network. I'm Eric Olson with Helix Education and we're here today with Chelsea Waite, senior researcher at the Center for Reinventing Public Education. Chelsea, welcome to the show. Thanks so much. Ark. Really excited to talk to you today about developing a peer...

...tutoring growth strategy. But before we dig in, can you give the listeners a little background on both the Center for Reinventing Public Education and your role there? Yeah, the summer on reinventing public education is house at the University of Washington Bostel and has almost a thirty year 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 I was a researcher at the Christians and institute on Their Education Team, looking into mostly k twelve and then increasingly towards the end, some post secondary questions, which led me to this research on peer networks. Well, huge congrats on the new role. I know we're going to be tapping into that Christians and research backgrounds later in the conversation. To kick us off to HLC, can you get us an overview on the sheer logistical limitations of college faculty alone fully trying 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 committed to being support for their students and if it were only an issue of the limitations of faculty support, I think the problem would be even worse than it is. Unfortunately, what I saw when I was researching this paper on peer networks is that campuses are actually running up against shortages in support staff and student services as well so we think about, you know, these student service departments having come into being in order to really directly support the needs of students in ways that faculty just don't have the capacity to do with the scale of students and Book Secondary Right now. But even those support services are running into issues of not being able to scale without either becoming really expensive or sort of too big for the number of students who are neating support. And with that support challenge reality remind us of your recent research...

...findings at the Christians and institute on the potential of peer to peer support. Yeah, well, so I'll go back for one second and give I had a great conversation with someone great digital health who, which is the sort of parent company of you at College. His name is Nathan Demers, and he talked about how, when he was a clinician in, you know, student support services, a therapist, he talked about how, you know, his case load of sixty students just didn't match 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 students seeking 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 across career services and other areas of student support, including tutoring, and so my recent research at the Christians in institute was really focused on the potential of peer to peer model or models that leverage peer network in order to support students and address that real scale challenge. So...

...what we are hypothesis going in and frankly one that was confirmed through the research that I did, was that peers and near peers, so you know, students who are perhaps not exactly on your level but a little, you know, a step or two ahead, are overlooked but and immensely undervalued resource in terms of academic, social guidance and mental health support. We know already from the research that positive peer dynamics support learning and for social behavior. We know that negative peer dynamics and hahibit those same things. We know that friendships and positive peer networks impact students social emotional wellbeing, their academic progress their career success. And we also know that peers already they're a really significant influence on students academic and career decisions, sometimes even more than formal career services and yet these sort of resources contained in those peer networks, or in other words social capital,...

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

...of the student body. And one of the things that's really interesting about that is that forty two percent of those online tutoring sessions with peers happened outside of traditional work hours. So I think some of the barriers that we see with traditional student services that are staffed by professional is that not only is it a one to one model, but it's also sort of have to happen during like hours where professionals are working, and yet we know that college students are sort of coming running up into needs potentially at all hours. Right. So that ability for this on demand peer to peer tutoring to Hap an outside of traditional work hours seemed to be a really positive elements of nax model. Knack also found with us that sixty three percent of 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, you know, a couple other models that we left at. One in particular on peer to peer mental health support. There are students are seeking peer to peer mental health support at at all hours whenever...

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

But I think there's a quote from the founder of Nack, the peer to peer tutoring program, that I think is illustrative here, where he told us that Nack is trying to allow institutions to set up more distributed systems so that students can connect directly with each other for support. And so the idea of one more distributed student support model that leverages peer to peer networks that, frankly, are already being used by students, just not in a particularly deliberate or strategic way by the university, is really promising. From what we found yeah, let's clarify that. So there's some levels of support that a peer might not be qualified for dealing with mental health struggles efficient and effective and strategic career coaching. What are and what is that peer to peer support that you're hoping that peer and your peer focuses on? 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 good example, because I think there's a lot of justified concern about like we can't just throw students into these really challenging mental...

...health situations with their peers, and I 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 piece is really critical because they have twenty four hour moderation by clinicians who are able to, you know, intervene or to recommend, sort of flag students who seem to be really needing more support, and they can either be a support for those students directly or they've partnered with the campuses that where they work to make sure that they have the right information to be able to steer those students towards 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 just want to be able to come online and say like, honestly, I'm struggling and 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'll sort 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 we talked to. He was saying that in their user interviews they found that there's actually sort of a supply demand problem in terms of more supply of students wanting to offer their peers support but not knowing where to do that and how to how 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 their peers might actually be something that students want to do. I love the model. I love the promise. Chel see any final next steps. Advice for institutions listening to this considering scaling their peer to peer support strategies. Where should they start? Yeah, so one place...

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

...recommendation that came through in the paper is that he's really I meant him this earlier, but the what's happening in peer networks is that students are tapping into a kind of social capital where there are resources that are contained in peer relationships and peer networks. And so when college as are thinking about the potential for peer to peer support, I would say don't just broker contact between peers really deliberately designed to foster relationships, and I think we all know the maxim that you know, what gets measured gets done, 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 and the quality of relationships that students are developing with each other, there's a missed opportunity, especially because then you know you may not optimize for those relationships over time if you're if you're not able to kind of see the progress that you're making. And then last last thing here. This is sort of maybe something that's obvious to folks, but I think...

...really worth saying that sometimes, when we think about the relationships that are most valuable to sort of put into students hands, the first ones that come to mind are like older mentors or industry connections or you know other kinds of like farther afield relationships than peer one, because those can often deliver, like job opportunities, for example. But of course, 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 making recommendations on how to leverage alumni for their their networks, for the social capital that'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 place for listeners to reach out if they have any follow up questions? Yeah, for sure. My Mail is the Waie...

...at you w dot Eedu, and I'd also encourage books to go to who you know dot org, which is the Christians and institute hub for their social capital research, and there's a ton more. 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's new 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 this new education landscape, and Helix has just published the second edition of their enrollment growth playbook with fifty percent brand new content on how institutions can solve today's most pressing 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 you never 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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