Tutoring Program Goals
- Address weaknesses in study habits and problem-solving skills.
- Reinforce chemistry concepts and skills learned in lecture and recitation.
- Reinforce basic chemistry concepts (this is especially important in the first few weeks of class).
- Provide secondary support for students (Tutoring is not a substitute for
attending recitation. Tutors should be wary of students coming to tutoring,
but not to recitation).
Conduction Tutoring Sessions
Tutors are informed at the beginning of the semester how many hours a week they should meet with each student they tutor. Tutors should establish a set time and place each week to meet with students, and keep to this schedule. Tutors need to commit to this weekly time, and should not cancel due to upcoming exams, problem sets, or projects. We expect the same commitment from students who are receiving tutoring (in fact students who miss a tutoring session are no longer provided with the service). Students can only benefit from tutoring if they meet with a tutor on a regular basis, and not only before an exam. Students should not apply to be a tutor if they can not make this time commitment.
Tutors work as part of the subject teaching staff. As such the department
expects that tutors will be professional at all times in matters relating
to their students. Guidelines for all Department of Chemistry teaching staff
can be found here.
Listening to Students
Students will seek help for a variety of reasons. A tutor's first goal should be to try and understand what a student's specific problem or interest in tutoring may be.
In the first two weeks of class there may be a lot of students who need to brush up on the chemistry basics that are not covered in 5.111/2. In this group of students there may be those who never learned the material well and don't know it, or those who know the material, but need some reassurance that they are on the right track. Listening to the students and reacting to their specific needs is the first step to helping them.
After the first exam those who did poorly will be the primary group using the tutoring program. At this point tutors should figure out why their students did so poorly. Part of the problem can be a misunderstanding of the course content, but much of it could also be based in their study/learning skills.
Improving Study/Learning Skills
If a student is having problems with content it is important to determine why this is so. The class material could be difficult, but the problem could also lie in how the student is approaching the material.
Some of the areas that the student might be having trouble are:
- Time scheduling
- Lack of effort
- Lack of confidence in ability
- Listening & note-taking
- Taking exams
Print resources are available in the Chemistry Education Office to help tutors address these issues during tutoring sessions.
There is a training session at the beginning of the semester for tutors, which discusses how to work with students. It is important to remember that a tutor's primary role is to help students ultimately help themselves. It is important to point out to tutees that the course faculty, TAs, and classmates are also sources of help. Content questions that may be beyond a tutors ability should be addressed to the faculty or TA.
Tutors should always feel free to stop by the Chemistry Education Office to discuss questions or problems that come up in the course of tutoring.