New Peer Tutoring Center Takes Off

By Penina Wein
On November 17, 2011

This semester, SCW instituted a brand new peer tutoring system. This system, a replacement for the old Teachers Assistants (affectionately known as TAs), provides one on one tutoring in a given subject by another student who took and excelled in that course. Sessions normally take place on the sixth floor of 215 Lexington, and appointments for peer-tutoring can be scheduled online at http://yu2.mywconline.comfor the following classes: General Chemistry, Biology Principles, Cell Biology, Economics, Experimental Psychology, Genetics, Math/Calculus, Microbiology, Organic Chemistry, Physics, Physiology and Statistics.

Mrs. Miriam Schechter, Director of SCW Academic Advisement Center, explained that this new system was created to help benefit the many students who had suggested that perhaps one-on-one tutoring would be more productive than the previous model. This new system allows students to pick a time that works best for them from a list of appointments that tutors make themselves available for. Unlike the old drop-in system for TA's (where there could be 0-20 students at one meeting), this new system benefits students who know they are receiving individual attention when they arrive at a meeting, as well as the TA's who do not have to sit around waiting for students to drop by, but rather know what to expect before the time arrives. Noah Jerusalem, a sophomore on campus taking Chemistry, remarked that she found her one-on-one experience better than group sessions because it allowed her to ask her own questions more than she would have been able to in a group setting. She also advised coming prepared with questions as something that would help to enhance a session.

Tutors for the new peer-tutoring system are selected the same ways as TA's were: professors ask students who excel in a given subject if they would like to become a tutor for the next year. (Although Miriam Schechter explained that if a student expressed particular interest in tutoring a specific without a recommendation, then Academic Advisement would consult with the Department faculty and consider them as well.) Each peer tutor is required to be available for at least two 1-hour sessions a week, Monday through Thursday. Certain subjects may only have one peer tutor, whereas some subject may have up to four. Davida Kollmar, a junior Chemistry Peer tutor, explained, "I find the peer center important. It is good that students are available to help answer questions and to help with homework. Also, the service is completely free for the students; the tutors are paid by the college. While students can still hire their own regular tutors if they feel it necessary, it is nice that [they] don't need to, that they can come to the tutors for help right before a test or for an explanation of the one topic they don't understand."

When asked if there would be something she would improve within the peer-tutoring center, Kollmar thought, "It might be nice to have hours during the weekends, or people who know that they will procrastinate in studying for their Monday test (like many students probably do) and anticipate wanting help the night before."

Orly Benaderet, a junior taking Experimental Psychology, observed that although she knew about the tutor available for her subject, she wished that there were more available, and that the system had been more publicized throughout the course.  Another student remarked that she wished that there were tutors for more subjects than the ones currently being offered, as she felt that it would help her improve in some of her courses.

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