Reflecting on my Capstone Experience

What similarities and differences do you see between your project and other projects you have participated in or contextually read about? Why did this project interest you?

I am aware of other programs that sought to partner elementary students with older tutors during the CoV-19 pandemic. However, I am unaware of any website that provides an asynchronous curriculum to students in conjunction with individualized, synchronous tutoring at no cost. I think this project provides a meaningful resolution to a problem that exists: affordable, supplemental academic instruction in the Pittsburgh area. By creating this website, I hope to continue to empower the families of students with free resources to supplement the educational process.

Briefly describe the context of your project, the specific question you are striving to answer, a summary of the existing literature, and your chosen methodology.

The overarching question that my project seeks to answer is what can I do to mitigate the implications of resource disparity in education. In April 2020, I began an initiative through a local, non-profit organization, For Good Pgh., to provide remote tutoring at no cost to students in the Pittsburgh area. I began this initiative, because I felt that some students had their learning process disproportionately affected in the transition to remote learning and I wanted to help. After two years of providing individualized remote tutoring at no cost, my co-founder and I decided to create a website to offer additional, asynchronous instruction for students. This process entailed uploading curriculum previously tutored, so that those that are interested in utilizing the free tutoring service for their student but are unable to commit to weekly tutoring sessions may still do so at their own pace.

Has your process or project’s deliverable changed since you started? How have your expectations regarding this project or the field changed (or stayed the same)?

Initially, instruction for remote tutoring was conducted via Zoom with a visual presentation via Google Docs. However, the website that I have created allows for tutoring to be conducted asynchronously with uploaded curriculum for multiple grade levels.

My Skills – Due 3/4 of the way through your project (if your project has a length of one semester, this post would be due 3 months after your start date). For this blog post, please reflect on the technical and transferable skills you have been using during your project. When writing your reflection, think about the following questions:

i.How has this project changed your perspective about interdisciplinary work, if at all?

This project has given me insight into how the skills that I have gained through studies in my science coursework, including: critical thinking and problem solving, have translated indirectly into my approach to facilitating tutoring. For example, a parent of a student that was hard of hearing approached us with an interest in pursuing tutoring for her

student. Unfortunately, none of the tutors that were available to work with this student were fluent in American Sign Language; therefore, I created a series of interactive slideshows and worksheets for the parent of the student to assist her in facilitating the learning process. The feedback we received from the parent was immensely positive, so it seems that this creative adaptation for this student was conducive to the learning process (and subsequently a success!).

ii.What strategies work best to help you communicate with colleagues both inside and outside your discipline?

When scheduling tutoring appointments, it was essential to create a Google Calendar that all tutors and students could access. This ensured that all participants of the Buddy Team Tutoring were able to establish a routine conducive to the learning process.

iii.What transferable (aka “soft” skills) are you developing or continuing to develop most throughout the experience?

I am still working on developing my confidence when facilitating instruction. All of the students that I work with through The Buddy Team are incredibly kind and respectful kids; however, it can feel a bit daunting (at times) to instruct on a topic that I am less familiar with, such as: a different approach to factoring than I learned in school. Over the past two year, I believe that my confidence has improved and will continue to improve as I continue to tutor.

iv.What technical (aka “hard” skills) have you gained or honed throughout this process?

Prior to creating the website for The Buddy Team Tutoring, I had minimal experience with website design. Through the process of creating a website, I am now comfortable with navigating the GoogleSite platform to create an engaging, easy-to-navigate platform.

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