Pensacola State College has taken home a prestigious national award for its student tutoring program. The Community College Futures Assembly awarded Pensacola State its 2017 National Bellwether Award for Instructional Programs and Services. At an announcement meeting at the college on Thursday, PSC President Dr. Ed Meadows talked about the awards. "Since 1995, the Futures Assembly for Community Collages, that has been under the auspices of the University of Florida, began a Heisman Trophy type competition among community college in three different categories, and those were called the Bellwether Awards."
Pensacola State is the first Florida college to win one of these awards since 2006. PSC’s virtual tutoring program won the Bellwether Award for its success in helping students complete math and science courses with higher grades and lower withdrawal rates. Meadows said "The Virtual Tutoring Program came about as a result of Dr. [Erin] Spicer and her staff recognizing that there needed to be a number of initiatives to address the legislature's codifying performance funding in 2016."
Dr. Erin Spicer said "It's been an honor to be recognized for our program. [It's] a trend setting program that other colleges can replicate." Pensacola State looked into using outside companies that offering tutoring, but they were not satisfied either with the services offered or the cost. "At that point it was Mr. Mike Johnston who came to us and said he thought he knew how we could do this ourselves." The started a pilot program in one of the intermediate algebra classes that summer, and in the Fall of 2015 they expended the tutoring program into all the math classes. they then expanded the program further, into chemistry and biology. "It has just taken off with incredible success and the students have really utilized it quite a bit."
"The greatest aspects of our program is that it's simple to use for students, that it's free for students and it gives them convenient access to tutoring from any location" said Dr. Kirk Bradley, the Dean of Baccalaureate Studies and Academic Support at Pensacola State. He says the tutoring program continues to grow. "Right now [the tutoring program is available to] any student in Mathematics, certain biological science courses, physical science courses and writing emphasis courses." Dr. Bradley says they are adding more disciplines to the program every semester.
While the program benefits individual students, it also benefits the college itself. Pensacola sate President Ed Meadows says the tutoring program is part of the school’s efforts to retain students. "This spring we have a 4 percent increase in enrollment. And I attribute that increase in enrollment in large part to the initiative under performance funding to retain our students. So these are not just new students coming to the institution but returning students that stayed in college."
Pensacola State beat out over 2,500 other community colleges from around the country to win the Bellwether Award.