Peer tutoring program ensures students reach fullest potential

Sessions help increase knowledge base, student confidence
BSN tutorsBy Catie Etka

The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) School of Nursing Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing (BSN) curriculum is a rigorous combination of science, mathematics and practice courses that demand a lot of undergraduate students. To ensure students meet their fullest potential, the School has implemented a peer-tutoring program in which they can schedule one-on-one or group tutoring sessions with upperclassmen peers.

The initiative was launched by Assistant Professor Rhonda McLain, PhD, RN, in the spring of 2015. McLain says she and her colleagues have always been more than happy to help students with coursework, but she saw a need for peer academic support. She said students statistically are more likely to listen to their peers so this is a great way to improve student success and retention, as well as facilitate bonds between students. Associate Professor Lynn Stover Nichols, PhD, RN-BC, SANE, currently manages the program.

Peer tutors are fourth- and fifth-semester pre-licensure students who have a proven record of success throughout the undergraduate nursing program, and first-year Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) students. Tutor sessions are available for BSN and Accelerated Master’s in Nursing Pathway (AMNP) students and are posted weekly on the Canvas learning system for easy access.

Students set a weekly schedule based on prior arrangements with each course manager and can even schedule sessions on the weekends, if needed.

“The program helped me become acclimated in my first semester as well as helped my overall GPA,” said second-semester BSN student Taylor Brazier, who utilized the tutoring program last semester. “Our student instructor was fully engaged and helped us reach our own conclusions to ensure we were prepared for exams.”

The program isn’t just beneficial for those being tutored. BSN graduate and former peer tutor Amanda Segars shared how the experience has helped enhance her undergraduate career.

“I knew that as a peer tutor I would have the opportunity to positively impact other students. What I didn't expect was how tutoring others improved my own understanding and application of specific content areas,” said Segars. “Witnessing other students experience that ‘ah-ha’ moment when content made sense increased my own level of motivation and enthusiasm for the field of nursing.”

Since its establishment the peer tutor program has been proven to increase student success. Both the tutor and students being tutored leave with improved confidence and an expanded knowledge base.

“The tutor program is set in place to ensure all students feel comfortable with the nursing curriculum and continue on to be competent and confident nurses,” said Nichols. “The success stories are countless.”
Last modified on May 20, 2016

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