by Jessica Jacobs, Special to Ka ‘Ohana
Most students will experience difficult classes at some point during college. However, the Ho‘onui ‘Ike (HI) program at Windward Community College ensures that students don’t have to face these courses alone.
The program employs students who have already succeeded in difficult below-college-level, online or evening courses as alaka‘i. According to Scott Sutherland, WCC’s Ka Piko and HI program coordinator, these students are assigned a specific course, participate in the course alongside students, support the instructor, as well as provide tutoring and other academic support to students.
“Alakaʻi are most often recommended by the instructors themselves and have usually taken the specific course with that particular instructor,” Sutherland said. “We feel that this is important because the instructor and recommended student have already developed a rapport and the instructor has observed the recommended student’s behavior and work for a semester.”
Sutherland said that alaka’i are required to attend a 14-hour, two-day pre-semester training that covers the foundations of peer coaching, tutoring and academic support, as well as the logistics of the position. Another focus of alaka‘i is to promote the growth of a “college mindset” by encouraging students to find motivation within themselves rather than from outside influences and to confidently approach difficult subject materials.
HI does not charge for its services, thereby allowing students who otherwise could not afford private tutoring to feel confident in passing the difficult courses they need to graduate.
Students book one-on-one sessions with alaka‘i, who help them solidify content covered in lectures, offer study tips and provide opportunities to practice relevant material. Additionally, alaka‘i can help students set goals throughout the semester to help them stay on track.
Since its inception in September 2015, the HI program has served an average of 276 students per semester. Students who attend sessions statistically outperform their classmates.
According to data on the HI website, students who attend sessions succeed (with an A, B, or C grade) at a rate of 73.5 percent, while those who do not attend succeed at a rate of 55.12 percent. The average mean final course grade for HI attendees was 2.63, while the average mean final course grade for non-attendees was 2.15. The data indicates that students who participate in the HI program receive average course grades of a half letter higher than their peers.
For more information about the program, go to its website at https://windward.hawaii.edu/services-for-students/tutoring/ho‘onui-ike. Interested instructors and students may contact Scott Sutherland at firstname.lastname@example.org.