Editorial: Improve coordination between McGraw tutors and course staff| December 6, 2015
The University’s McGraw Center for Teaching and Learning provides undergraduate students with multiple opportunities to find academic assistance outside the classroom. Among these opportunities is the Center’s free study hall and individual peer tutoring program, staffed by fellow students who are well-versed in a given subject. While the Editorial Board commends the McGraw Center for providing tutoring services, we encourage the McGraw Center to improve coordination between course staff and McGraw tutors.
The content of a given course is very much affected by the professor teaching it, and the professors teaching specific courses often rotate. Therefore, McGraw tutors are at times less equipped to provide assistance for a specific course because they did not take the course with the professor currently teaching it. Many students are thus left without the assistance they need to succeed in the course. Better coordination between course staff and tutors would alleviate much of this problem. At the beginning of a semester, preceptors and tutors could meet to discuss the planned content of the course for that semester. Tutors who have previously taken the course with a different professor could then ask for clarification or instruction on specific topics that were not covered when they took the course. This would equip tutors with the knowledge that they need to effectively help students understand key topics. Finally, to avoid imposing an unfair burden on McGraw tutors, we suggest that the tutors be paid at their normal hourly rate for attending these meetings.
The Board acknowledges McGraw’s stance that “McGraw undergraduate peer tutoring is intended to supplement lecture, precept, lab and office hours and not replicate or replace them.” We further acknowledge that homework help is not the primary aim of McGraw. However, the Board believes that improved coordination and increased familiarity with the course material does not undermine this attitude. Meetings at the beginning of the semester between course staff and peer tutors should not give rise to tutors giving out specific answers to problem sets. Instead, when tutors are more familiar with the course material, they are better equipped to guide their tutees and help reinforce general concepts learned in lecture. We encourage tutors to use their increased familiarity with the course content to focus on “solidifying foundational concepts” and encourage students to develop independent problem-solving skills.
Study hall and Individual peer tutoring is a vital and much-appreciated service provided by the McGraw Center with the aim of helping “students develop the skills and strategies they need to independently and successfully engage in the course.” Thus, in order to better achieve this aim, the Board urges the McGraw Center to increase coordination between the course staff and peer tutors.
Connor Pfeiffer ’18 recused himself from the writing of this editorial.
TheEditorial Boardis an independent body and decides its opinions separately from the regular staff and editors of The Daily Princetonian. The Board answers only to its Chair, the Opinion Editor and the Editor-in-Chief.