Student Success and ESL Writing Tutoring Panel Presentation

by Ingrid Greenberg, ESL Instructor

Each time I participate in a Plenary for the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges, I take away fresh ideas and new perspectives on education. Recently, at the 2016 Spring Plenary in Sacramento, I had a chance to compare notes with my friend Daphne Figueroa, professor of chemistry, who has served as a tutoring coordinator at Miramar College. We kicked around the idea of bringing together tutoring coordinators for a District-wide or regional presentation. As the Continuing Education Student Equity ESL Writing Tutoring program was nearing the completion of its third semester of implementation, the time was ripe to stretch our wings beyond our institution and to invite others to share and collaborate on best practices.

On May 26, 2016 at the Mid City Campus, tutoring coordinators from our three sister colleges joined me in presenting on the Student Success and ESL Writing Tutoring Panel:

·         Ingrid Greenberg, Continuing Education

·         Chris Baron & Lance Soukhaseum, City College

·         Mark Manasse, Mesa College

·         Daphne Figueroa, Miramar College

The topics included types of tutoring, professional development, and research. In the Continuing Education ESL Program, a team of a dozen tutors has provided embedded instruction on each of the six campuses during 2015-2016. After ESL tutors are matched with instructors, they visit the classroom and provide one-to-one writing tutoring for academic essays and scholarships, workplace tasks such as resumes and cover letters, and consumer/civic  topics such as requesting a refund. For each session, tutors collect information about the writing task, including linguistic instruction and stage of the writing process. This data will be analyzed to determine student success as they transition from ESL to vocational training and/or credit courses.

We learned from our panelists that the three colleges approach tutoring differently than CE. The colleges devote most of their resources to provide tutoring centers, rather than embedded instruction. The centers provide tutoring for many topics, with English and math as the most popular. The centers provide a variety of methods of tutoring: face-to-face, online synchronous, and online asynchronous. In fact, one of the most in-demand tutoring services allows students to post a draft essay online on the WorldWideWhiteboard® and students will receive feedback asynchronously. Please read more.

The panelists reported that professional development for both the tutors and the faculty has been essential to student success.  Tutors must participate in trainings, conferences and workshops to learn the skills to optimize their tutoring. One of the online trainings, TutorLingo, is highly recommended because it provides a system for learning as well as certificates. Please read more.

The panelists also strongly recommend that faculty who host embedded instruction or match students to tutoring should also participate in training. Professor Manasse stated, “We need to support a cultural shift to discuss and define tutoring among faculty, coordinators, and tutors.” The coordinators suggested posing these questions to be discussed in faculty trainings:

·         What are the bottleneck topics and issues that prevent students from passing their courses?

·         How can we match tutoring services to courses to enhance success rates?

·         How can we add value to your teaching?

The panelists explained that longitudinal research conducted by the campus researcher has played an essential role in comparing the success rates of courses with and courses without accompanying tutoring. Studies have shown that student success and retention rates have improved with tutoring, especially for students who take courses online.

For more information about tutoring centers at City, Mesa and Miramar colleges, please visit:

San Diego City College Tutorial Learning Center

San Diego City College English Center

Mesa College Academic Skills Center

Miramar College Personal Learning Assistance Center (PLACe)


Mission: San Diego College of Continuing Education commits to student success and community enrichment by providing accessible, equitable, and innovative quality education and support services to diverse adult learners in pursuit of lifelong learning, training, career advancement, and pathways to college. read more »