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News: PCC to Continue Smarthinking's 24/7 Tutoring Services

The success of Smarthinking’s 24/7 online tutoring services has prompted Pasadena City College (PCC) to renegotiate a new, one-year contract with the company. The online tutoring program allows students to receive real-time and after-hours tutoring on dozens of subjects, ranging from basic math skills and essay drafting to highly specialized courses such as nursing pharmacology.

Smarthinking, whose 24/7 services are the first of their kind at PCC, has proven to be a helpful choice for many students since its inception last summer. Based on surveys from May 2012 to April 2013, a large majority of users have favored the program; when students were asked to rate their tutor, technology, and whether they would recommend Smarthinking to a friend, respondents provided favorable ratings of 87.1%, 87.1%, and 91.4%, respectively. “The tutor was nice, quick, and knowledgeable. Their explanations were very clear,” remarked a student who received tutoring for their Introduction to Accounting course. Smarthinking’s Writing Center, where students submit their course essays, also received a positive response with an overall rating of 93.6%.

“Students [utilizing Smarthinking] had a 14 percent higher retention rate and a 20 percent higher success rate than those who did not login for tutoring… It’s nice to know that we offer services that our successful students find valuable,” said John C. Wood, director of the PCC Learning Assistance Center.

Wood noted that the renegotiation was ideal since the campus was able to receive a discounted rate and would now be able to carry over unused tutoring hours from last year. By remaining with Smarthinking, PCC has saved time and resources by maintaining a program with a positive track record at PCC and whose unique features—namely, the after-hours services—have been embraced by students.

“About 75 percent of Smarthinking activity happened during evenings (after 8 p.m.) and on weekends. That’s when students still need help and we’re not there—when the college isn’t open for in-person tutoring. The real value is that Smarthinking is available during students’ time, the time that they actually use to study,” Wood said.

Smarthinking features a wide range of tools used to mirror the experience of in-person tutoring. Such technology focuses on the use of a whiteboard, where students can upload and share files, create free-hand drawings, and engage in instant messages with their tutor. The list of customizations even extends to the tutors themselves, as students are able to schedule live, 30-minute sessions and select their favorite tutor for consistency.

“The tutors, stationed throughout the country and world, are seasoned educators—90 percent have an advanced degree in their fields and they average over nine years of teaching or tutoring experience,” Wood said. Students can then revisit and review any past tutoring sessions by accessing their transcripts in Smarthinking’s archives. For those unable to meet the schedule of a live tutor, Smarthinking’s 24/7 services allow for offline tutoring where students can input a question and receive a response within 24 hours.

Although Smarthinking poses an invaluable resource for some students (such as those whose working hours do not permit time for on-campus tutoring), Wood noted that Smarthinking should be a supplement—not a replacement—to live tutoring.

“I think it’s very wise for students to use both in-person tutoring when they can, and online when they need or prefer to,” said Wood, who noted that one of the benefits of on-campus tutoring is that the tutors are familiar with the specific PCC course. By closing the tutoring gap created when the campus is closed, PCC’s Smarthinking services ensure that academic support is always present for students whenever they need it.

Release Date: 07/22/2013
Contact: Juan F. Gutierrez , Director of Public Relations
Phone: (626) 585-7264
Email: jfgutierrez@pasadena.edu