In this article:
- Children as young as seven start to associate asking for help with appearing incapable
- Methods of helping students access tutoring despite internalized feelings of shame include: lowering barriers to asking for help, finding processes that allow students to avoid the the vulnerable “I need help” conversation; stressing privacy; and having students and faculty share their stories about getting help.
Research suggests that as early as the age of seven, children link asking for help with appearing inept. This fear follows us through to adulthood and can be a significant barrier to young adults trying to prove they are ready for total independence.
To overcome the stigma, some tried-and-true tricks to getting student to ask for help include:
- Lowering barriers to asking for help
- Avoiding the the vulnerable “I need help” conversation
- Stressing privacy
- Having students and faculty share their stories about getting help
These tricks can help your institute create an atmosphere where students feel safe and comfortable seeking out course help when they need it.
Lower the barrier to asking for help
One of the key ways to get students to ask for help when they need it is to lower the barriers to entry, according to Scientific American. This means not only overcoming the time barrier – i.e. how much time & effort it takes to find a tutor – but also the social risk. T.A.s privately asking students if they understand the material, Professors hosting regular office hours, etc.
When it comes to finding a tutor, having a system that is easy and quiet to navigate goes a long way to get the help they need before they lose their nerve.
Avoid the vulnerable “I need help” conversation
A digital interface may assist students who are anxious about admitting to a respected faculty member that they’re having trouble with the course material. Instead of a vulnerable conversation, a digital interface allows students to simply book what they need and come to the tutoring session with all parties coming to a safe, private location already understanding the assignment.
If a digital booking interface isn’t what you’re after, publicizing an email or a Dropbox where students can submit what they’re looking for may also help make it easier for some students to reach out when they need to.
Including the policy in advertising materials — i.e. “Tutoring sessions are private. We will never share your name or session info without your permission” — may seem small but could go a long way to helping a student feel comfortable asking for help.
Have students share their stories
So far all of these tips have been about helping mitigate feelings of embarrassment when asking for help, but what about smashing any stigma to pieces?
Try a marketing campaign where previous tutees share why they sought out tutoring and the benefits it had to their course load or stress levels. Videos, posters or even class visits can help students understand they’re not alone. Programs could also try having people of interest share their stories of seeing out help, like favourite professors or student athletes.
Creating a culture change no doubt takes time and will have to be repeated with every new cohort of students coming in, but the results could be extremely positive.
Nimbus learning can help with all of this. Our easy-to-use platform helps students easily search for and book a tutor, while also cutting down on administration tasks. Our partnership success team can help recruit and train tutors, assist with marketing campaigns and whatever else the program needs.
Get in touch with us to learn more about how we can help.