Academic Help Moves Online

  • April 16th, 2020
Two UA Writing Center tutors posed photo on couch
UA Writing Center tutors Natalie Lett and Blake McKinney in a pre-social distancing photo

The University of Alabama’s Writing Center and Capstone Center for Student Success have made the jump to online services.

The Writing Center, which offers writing support services to the campus community, is using asynchronous tutoring and other resources virtually.

Amy Dayton, director of the UA Writing Center, said asynchronous tutoring allows students to upload a draft of their paper, and a Writing Center tutor will help at an appointed time.

“You sign up for a time slot, they’ll come and read your work and return it with comments before the end of the day,” Dayton said. “We’ve had this available for distance learning students for several years, but now we’ve just made it available for the entire campus community.”

Demand for writing assistance has been steady, she said.

“In some ways, it’s been seamless to an extent since many of our tutors were tutoring distance learners online,” she said. “But some students may miss the in-person back-in-forth that they’re used to. Our tutors try to maintain that in-person feel online though, by being personable and conversational.”

Dayton said the tutors at the Writing Center are available and check emails regularly.

At the Capstone Center for Student Success, online support includes free tutoringacademic coaching and skills sessions through Zoom. The entire First Year Experience is online. The center also offers tips for success for being an online student.

“My staff has done a great job of moving everything online and now we’re thinking about new things,” said Dr. Jennifer Roth-Burnette, director of academic support at the center. “We offer a wide range of tutoring for math, biology, accounting, chemistry, psychology – lots going on there typically for us.”

The center also offers peer coaching for one-on-one work on time management and goal setting to help students be successful, she said.

“It’s goals-based coaching rather than mentoring,” Roth-Burnette said. “What are your obstacles against your success and what can we do to change those?”

Skill-building sessions typically begin with a presentation on topics such as time management, avoiding procrastination, managing test anxiety or successful test taking before a one-on-one with a coach on success strategies.

The Center for Student Success provides Zoom rooms, or open video conferences. Students can “walk” into those rooms during operating hours just if they were coming to the center in person.

“Some people are in the habit of coming in once a week, and now they’re coming online,” Roth-Burnette said. “They’re getting that sense of connection from knowing each other in their classes or tutoring sessions. They’ve said they’re happy to just see familiar faces and have something that feels sort of normal when they come into the Zoom rooms.”


Dr. Jennifer L. Roth-Burnette,, and Amy Dayton,


Jamon Smith, Strategic Communications,, 205/348-4956

The University of Alabama, part of The University of Alabama System, is the state’s flagship university. UA shapes a better world through its teaching, research and service. With a global reputation for excellence, UA provides an inclusive, forward-thinking environment and nearly 200 degree programs on a beautiful, student-centered campus. A leader in cutting-edge research, UA advances discovery, creative inquiry and knowledge through more than 30 research centers. As the state’s largest higher education institution, UA drives economic growth in Alabama and beyond.