ECU professors Dr. John Kerbs observes as tutor Michael Mattocks, right, works with a criminal justice student. (Contributed photos)
By Nicole Wood
College of Human Ecology
You will find Dr. John Kerbs in his office early in the morning, late at night, and on the weekend. If he isn’t there or in front of the classroom, check over at the Old Cafeteria Building where he’s probably in the Pirate Tutoring Center working with the CJ Stat Lab tutors.
The CJ Stat Lab grew out of a need for more one-on-one assistance for students in JUST 3900, Introductory Statistics for Criminal Justice. “There just wasn’t enough time in class or during office hours to give the students the kind of attention they were seeking,” said Kerbs. “I knew we needed a different approach and so I partnered with the tutoring center and the textbook publisher (CENGAGE Learning) to create a hybrid tutoring model that features face-to-face and online assistance.”
The model involves several components including free access to qualified tutors, online course materials, textbooks and calculators.
Students from JUST 3900 compete each semester for the “Top Gun Statistician Award” which aids in the search for high-quality tutors. “I want the best students in the class working as tutors and I’ve been very fortunate this semester that Ethan Cooper, ‘Top Gun Statistician’ from the fall semester, agreed to be the lead tutor for this spring,” said Kerbs.
Cooper, in coordination with Kerbs and other tutors, developed a system of online notes, sample problems and tips for Aplia’s online homework modules. “I hope to help students in JUST 3900 so that they might score above the national average on Aplia,” said Cooper. Aplia is an online statisics homework system designed to help make statistics relevant and engaging. Kerbs incorporates Aplia assignments into the JUST 3900 curriculum.
Students in Kerbs’ criminal justice statistics class have found good success with the additional tutoring offered to help them succeed.
The final piece of the puzzle was tapping CENGAGE Learning to help defray the cost of providing materials for the students. “We now have 10 books and 10 calculators at both Joyner Library and the Pirate Tutoring Center. This was a very large donation of books and calculators from CENGAGE Learning, which has been invaluable given that many students are now availing themselves of the free materials in both locations,” Kerbs said. CENGAGE also sponsors the “Top Gun Statistician Award.”
Pirate Tutoring Center Director Elizabeth Coghill said, “The partnership with Dr. Kerbs in criminal justice is a model for future tutoring in high need courses. When faculty, tutors, Starfish early alerts and PTC staff collaborate, success happens. This semester saw high attendance from the JUST 3900 students. We look forward to working with faculty like Dr. Kerbs in other academic departments. When we join together, students succeed.”
With fierce competition for this semester’s “Top Gun Statistician Award,” Kerbs said that he should have no problem meeting the need of his students next semester with an even larger cohort of qualified tutors.
For additional information, visit the criminal justice stat lab site at http://blog.ecu.edu/sites/johnkerbs/