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Tips for Tutorial Instructors


How to help students that are struggling academically:

  • Send them to the Writing Center or ask them to do a Jan Term writing course.
  • Refer them to CASA
  • Advertise new student services skills workshops

How to help students who have nonacademic challenges:

  • Refer them to Joel Dansky in disability services
  • Refer them to health services
  • Refer them to CASA

How to help your students increase their willingness to explore a variety of academic areas during Div I:

  • Encourage them to take distribution requirements seriously and take courses in all five areas
  • Help with second semester course selection
  • Encourage them to meet faculty that match their interests early on and to take courses offered by those faculty
  • Get to know their interests!
  • Introduce specific faculty members whose fields and studies could inspire students
  • Post Five College events (lectures, concerts, etc.) on the Moodle course website
  • Encourage them to take risks and explore areas that may not be of interest
  • Encourage them to take Five College courses
  • "Frame it in terms of 'stretching' their current interests in new directions to gain new perspectives that might shed light on their interests. What does not work is saying things such as 'Well, you need a science/art/etc. class; how about X.' You really need to connect it to their interests."

How do you help your students reflect on their progress in the cumulative skills?

  • Ask them to look at their course work, self-evals, and course evals before writing their progress on cumulative skills
  • At the end of the fall semester ask them to write a reflective essay. This is helpful when they write their Div I retrospective essay
  • Use the portfolio review as a time to look back over their development since they've arrived
  • Talk about the portfolio individually and reconvene as a class (for dinner) late in the spring semester
  • Produce a postcard-sized check list and re-send to them just as classes are ending
  • During Div I meetings start by asking what they're most proud of during their first year. This often brings up skills that they had worked really hard on and felt good about and opened the conversation up to other things that didn't go so well. Also ask how good they're feeling about moving into Div II with their current skills and what they think they'll need/want to focus on in Div II
  • Ask them to address it in their retrospective

How do you help your students figure out what they want to do for Div II?

  • Tell them to think about faculty they've particularly liked and start by thinking about Div II that way rather than by subject matter
  • Tell them to fantasize about five years after they graduate and then think about what makes sense to concentrate on to get there
  • Ask them which classes they've really liked and try to figure out what really made those classes work for them. Usually this helps to figure out not just topic areas of interest but the perspectives that work best for them. Analogies could be made to all sorts of disciplines: Are they a "doer" in terms of research, activism, etc. or a "thinker" in terms of analysis, philosophy, etc.

How do you help students identify and talk with faculty members that might advise their Div II?

  • Invite colleagues to class
  • Have students contact (email, sign up for office hours) faculty members before pre-registration
  • Encourage them to be in the faculty members' courses, if possible, during the next semester
  • Tell them to listen to their friends and use faculty biographies
  • Try to figure out their general topic areas and direct them to faculty. Use Faculty Finder to find folks that might not have immediately come to mind

What is a strategy, exercise, or approach you used in your tutorial that worked really well?

  • Research assignment in which students had to use the library, which started with a three hour intro to the library. Great support from the librarians
  • Asked advisees to write a self-eval covering academic and personal growth, and progress in cumulative skills at the end of the fall semester. Also asked them to refine their time management skills and academic priorities. For those who were struggling, asked them to take a writing course during JanTerm or seek help during the semester.
  • Have students keep a reflective journal (not analytical) connecting their own experiences to what we were learning. Have them pass it in a few times so you can read and write back to them--a really personal conversation that helps you get to know them and also helps them make the learning connect to their lives. Ask them about what they're learning, what it means to them, and how they might use it.
  • For the purpose of community building, have students upload all their writing assignments into a shared google doc. Students were encouraged (required) to read each others' papers and to revise their papers accordingly. This worked well, except in one case: The student was too insecure about her writing and asked to submit her work independently, which I let her do.
  • During the very first meeting (and related to the summer reading), have them handwrite a letter to you about their first day at Hampshire. Don't read them until the end of the semester and then talk to your advisees about the letters in general terms at that time. Most forget all about writing them. Slip the letters into their Div I portfolios when you return them.
  • Have some group meetings when there are large bits of info that everyone needs and then meet one on one at various points to make sure individuals are on track. Typically it works well to have the large group meetings at the beginning of the semester and the one on ones at the second advising day. I also in the one on one looked at their betahub history with them and also their CEL-1 so they knew where they were.
  • Our tutorial was organized around a campus improvement project. We continued working on a project in the spring--we built a tiny shed for the Forest Garden. Later we had a picnic there; my students brought some other Div I students along, and I invited some older students too. I find that physically doing something together is a great way of connecting.

What are some good tools/resources to introduce first year students to?

  • Writing Center
  • Div I road map
  • Disability Services
  • Health services
  • New student services skills workshops

Contact Us

Center for Academic Support and Advising (CASA)
Lemelson Building
Mail Code AC
Hampshire College
893 West Street
Amherst, MA 01002
Fax 413.559.6098

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