Submitted by Chip Nataro / Lafayette College on Wed, 02/01/2012 - 15:32

Once again I am going to partially stereotype inorganic chemists as having some general chemistry teaching responsibilities. The reason for that is a question that came up at lunch today, "Is Lafayette unique in how we handle tutors?" For 'formal' tutoring, students go to an academic resource center and can get a tutor that is recomended by the faculty member. The resource center pays the tutor, so there is no charge to the student. However, the number of paid meetings per week is limited to one (unless there are special circumstances). Some of our tutors have been known to freelance a bit on their own, but the majority of tutoring happens this way. So, how unique is the system?

Barbara Reisner / James Madison University

We have a very different system. Of course we do... we're big state U. JMU has a Science and Math Learning Center (SMLC, The SMLC helps students in Math, Physics, and Chemistry. The SMLC is open most afternoons and evenings for walk-in help. There are 10 chemistry tutors who provide help in chemistry at the General Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, Concepts of Chemistry, and General Science Level. There are usually 1-2 chemistry tutors available in the SMLC. Since 2008, the SMLC has had a coordinator in chemistry who not only works with struggling students but also hires (and trains) chemistry tutors. All of our tutors are paid hourly. Tutors at the SMLC are selected by a competitive application process.

Students who need help can spend as much time as they want at the Learning Center. The Learning Center has tables where students can work on problems, and when they need help, they can call over a tutor.

There are plenty of students who tutor privately on campus. Our Student Affiliates Chapter has works as a clearning house for tutors. I think the requirement to tutor is that you have a B or better in the course. Students who are having trouble email SAACS and the SAACS tutoring coordinator (i.e. club officer) makes a match and sends an email back with contact info. I know that other majors will tutor in chemistry, but that's strictly by word of mouth.

Wed, 02/01/2012 - 16:55 Permalink
Adam Johnson / Harvey Mudd College

We have a program called "academic excellence" which is a formal tutoring system for our core curriculum (first 2 years). Student tutors are nominated by departments and trained by a staff member who organizes the whole thing. In addition, for upper level courses, we occassionally hire TAs (it didn't happen at all 5 or 6 years ago but now is pretty common).  I am sure there is some unofficial tutoring but I think most of it is taken care of in our program.


Wed, 02/01/2012 - 21:35 Permalink
Sheila Smith / University of Michigan- Dearborn

We have, it seems, a combination of several of these.  We have a student resource center which will assign and pay for an individual tutor.  We also have Supplemental Instruction(  in many of our gateway courses like gen chem.  Finally, the chem club offers open hours of tutoring as a service. We simply provide a room.

Mon, 02/20/2012 - 20:54 Permalink