Rio Hondo Effective Practice

Contact Name: Robert Holcomb, Ph.D.
College: Rio Hondo College
Phone Number: (562) 463-3123
What issue or concern is the intervention designed to address?
It was designed to address the achievement gap in terms of “passing rates” between basic skills level courses and transfer level courses, particularly in math.

What were the desired outcomes you expected from this intervention?
The desired outcome was to increase the passaging rate of basic skills level courses, especially in math, to achieve parity with transfer level courses.

What data was collected to identify the issue or concern on your campus?
We looked at course completion rates in math, reading, English and ESL, at various basic skills levels, and at the transfer level.

Summarize the research used to determine that this intervention should have been piloted:

 Describe the Intervention:

Supplemental Instruction based on the Santa Barbara City College model, (Gateway Tutoring).

In the Gateway tutoring model, a tutor is assigned to a specific instructor for a particular class. The tutor meets regularly with the instructor and attends all class sessions in order to remain up-to-date with the pace and content of the class.  In addition, tutors provide two (hour-long) group tutoring sessions per week to corresponding students.  Student attendance at Gateway tutoring sessions is voluntary, but usually tied to some form of incentive, such as minimal class extra credit.  The role of Gateway tutors is to cultivate and inspire student success among Rio Hondo students.

(photo links and course list link.)

What if any data have you collected to measure the effectiveness of the intervention?
At this point we have only raw data. We’ve logged all students that have attended Gateway tutoring sessions.  We’ve also recorded the section numbers of all Gateway courses, since the spring 2010 pilot.  At the end of this semester, we will submit all the raw data to the IR Department. 

We will observe the passing rates of all students who attended Gateway tutoring sessions in comparison to those who did not as well as the general student population.  At the course level, we will measure passing rates for Gateway and non-Gateway courses.  We will disaggregate according to discipline, course level, and other features.

Summary of findings based on data: 

They will be available by early spring 2011.
Next steps:
How will you scale your program up to include a larger population?
We have already begun to scale up by expanding beyond pure basic skills levels and into transfer-level courses.  We will continue to recruit tutors, regularly offer the ED 90 tutor training course, and recruit faculty participants to support this growth. The spring 2010 pilot involved 15 sections, this academic year we’ve held steady at 30 sections, and we plan to grow to 50 sections per semester by fall 2011.  Within 5 years, we envision growing to 200 sections per semester, according to the data.

How can this program be sustained if outside funding is no longer available?
There is an opportunity to sustain the Gateway Tutoring program through a recent Title V grant the college has received, which will provide 3.2 million dollars over 5 years.  All three student success programs that were implemented (piloted) through the Basic Skills Initiative have been written into the grant.  Beyond that, the tutoring model should eventually be structured in a way that can render at least partial apportionment so that it can be self-sustaining to at least some degree.

What have you learned about the effectiveness of this program?   

  • Students are more likely to attend tutoring sessions initially if there is an extrinsic reward, like extra credit.  This will not sustain student attendance. Ultimately, the tutoring must be worthwhile.
  • Attendance is cyclical, usually correlating to a class exam or assignment.
  • Gateway tutors need to be motivators and make personal connections with students. 
  • When instructors mentor their tutors and cultivate their talents, the educational dynamic/resources available to students are much richer. 
  • Instructors and tutors usually develop a strong rapport and mutual respect, which encourages each one to reflect upon his or her respective role in the class.
  • A strong program infrastructure/staff is critical.
  • All program participants enjoy getting together in casual settings to discuss their assignments, and pizza is welcome.
  • A handbook is useful, but must be woven into the assignment in a way that makes tutors refer to it.

What improvements can you think of to strengthen the program?

  • increase visibility
  • robust program assessment/evaluation
  • continue to expand accordingly 
  • develop a faculty handbook
  • provide better supervision of tutoring sessions
  • provide better tutoring wages in order to keep good tutors

Rio Hondo Effective-Practices-report