By Alexa K. Haverlah

Kendall Dingee, adjunct professor in the Composition and Literary Studies department, began working with an embedded tutor in Spring 2021 as part of the Distance Education in Focus: Improving Course Design and Strengthening Student Support (InFocus) grant. Dingee says her embedded tutor is now an integral part of her ENGL 1301 and Integrated Reading and Writing courses.

“The embedded tutor I work with offers weekly/biweekly workshops for the students in my course,” Dingee said. “This allows the students to have a designated time with a tutor that is already informed on our curriculum and an expert in the concepts being taught.” 

The InFocus grant provides $2.68 million to support faculty, Hispanic and other low-income students through the online course redesign process, academic coaching, and embedded tutoring. With the grant funds, the Office of Distance & Alternative Education has hired three full-time tutoring specialists. Over the course of the five year grant period, their salaries will transition to be fully paid by ACC. Additionally, ACC employs 33 hourly embedded tutors. 

Embedded tutors are enrolled in courses volunteered by faculty. Because they are enrolled, they can see the syllabus when a student makes a reference to an assignment and they have access to all course materials, says Dr. Deeadra Albert-Green, Director of Online Support & Embedded Services. 

Students may feel apprehensive about going to the faculty member that’s giving them a grade, Albert-Green explains. Tutors are more approachable because they have no bearing on a student’s final grade or performance in the class, she says. 

“They are just there for support,” Albert-Green said. Embedded tutors are not teaching assistants, they do not grade papers or participate in lectures, she added. 

Embedded tutors meet with faculty at the beginning of the semester to go over expectations. Tutors are assigned to faculty unless they have already established a relationship with a faculty member. 

Embedded tutors introduce themselves to the class to let students know about their credentials but also their hobbies outside of the classroom. Dr. Albert-Green encourages tutors to be “as informal as possible” to encourage students to feel comfortable reaching out. 

Throughout the semester, embedded tutors send out emails reminding students when they’re available and organizing workshops like in Dingee’s case. Students can sign up for individual tutoring sessions or pop in during a tutor’s “recurring times” without an appointment. 

“We wanted to create a study hall environment,” Albert-Green said. Tutoring is available 24/7, allowing for easy access, robust support, and flexibility. 

“Working with the Title V grant has allowed me to better support my students through the use of an Embedded Tutor, Academic Coaches, and QM guidance,” Dingee said. “Offering students a full-service experience that pushes them to success is vital at ACC and the Title V grant is helping all students to receive the support needed for their success.”
Faculty teaching online can request an embedded tutor via the Faculty Request Form.

Learn more about the InFocus Grant.