Utilizing Douglas College’s free peer tutoring service

Improving your grades with a little help from a friend

By Elliot Chan, Staff Reporter

The Douglas College Learning Centre starts off every semester by recruiting new peer tutors. The number fluctuates between 20 and 35 peer tutors, which means there is often a waiting list for students who need assistance. The Learning Centre hires accordingly, depending on the courses offered at the college. Biology 1000, Chemistry 1000, and English 1130 tend to require extra-curricular help, and the centre often seeks students with expertise in those areas.

“My opinion of a quality peer tutor is one who is very high achieving,” said Holly Salmon, Learning Centre coordinator. “They are independent learners or someone who loves to learn. But when I ask peer tutors who they want as a part of their team, they say they want someone fun, has a lot of team spirit, and someone who is serious about school.”

The service is free for any students enrolled in a credit course at Douglas. Peer tutors offer two types of sessions: the weekly one-hour session allows students and peer tutors to sit down once a week to go over homework, assignments, and lecture notes. These one-hour meetings are limited, and sometimes require a waiting list. The other option is a “Quick Question” 25-minute drop-in session that offers students the opportunity to ask one key question about their studies.

“Our expectation is that you come in when you hit a wall,” said Salmon, “and you want help.”

Students who have high academic standards and want to share it with the community can also apply to be a peer tutor before or after receiving recommendations from an instructor.

“We have students that come in to apply and we ask them to provide names of two faculty references,” said Salmon. “I get emails from instructors a lot actually, ‘so and so came in and talked to me and I support them.’”

The Learning Centre has certain requirements for students who want to be peer tutors, such as being a registered student in at least one credit course at Douglas, and a B-average or better in 12 credits in Douglas College or equivalent courses.

“We have two weeks of training before you can tutor,” said Salmon. “You have readings, activities, and you sit in on other sessions to observe more experienced tutors. After that I speak with you and ask how you are feeling and see if you need more training—nobody ever says they need more training. By the time they are done they are ready to sit with a student. Throughout the term they get 2 and a half more hours of training every week.”

Peer tutors receive benefits for their assistance, including $11.20/hour, health and welfare, and a College Reading and Learning Association certificate, which is a professional certificate in three levels that allows peer tutors to tutor independently or at other institutions without extra training.

Application forms and more information about becoming a peer tutor can be found online at www.douglas.bc.ca/services/learning-centre/about/tutor.html. Job postings can be found on the Douglas College job board.

If you are seeking a peer tutor to help with you academic needs, please visit www.douglas.bc.ca/services/learning-centre/tutoring.html for more information.