Ideally, rather than bringing just the unsolved homework problems to a tutoring session, the student should bring questions about ideas or terms occurring in the homework. (Preparation of these questions should be a central part of the student’s general preparation for a tutoring session). The tutor’s goal should be to work with the student so that the student can then finish their homework independently.
Making the Most of Tutoring
Plan ahead. If you attend drop-in hours, try to come towards the beginning of the session, and try to come on a day that allows for another visit if needed. For example, if you go to tutoring the day the assignment is given to read through the assignment, you can then talk to the tutor about your initial ideas for solving the problems.
Be prepared. Bring all of the necessary materials including your notes, the assignment, your book (if you have one), a calculator (if needed) etc. Read and attempt homework assignment problems before you ask the tutor a question. Tutors cannot do your homework with (or for) you, but they can guide you through difficult problems and help you talk through your approach and ideas.
Be flexible. Be willing to come back another time/day or make an individual appointment.
Be specific. When scheduling an individual appointment via email, the more information you can provide tutors with ahead of time (specifically, the course, topic and a list of specific questions), the more productive the meeting will be. Most individual sessions are 30 minutes.
Be understanding. Tutors cannot provide (or guarantee) correct answers to your homework problems. They can only help you with the process of completing your work, not the outcomes.
The Ethics of Tutoring
Perhaps the simplest way to begin talking about the ethics of tutoring is to discuss the implications of Smith College’s honor code.
Honor Code Statement
Students and faculty at Smith are part of an academic community defined by its commitment to scholarship, which depends on scrupulous and attentive acknowledgement of all sources of information and honest and respectful use of college resources.
Smith College expects all students to be honest and committed to the principles of academic and intellectual integrity in their preparation and submission of course work and examinations. All submitted work of any kind must be the original work of the student who must cite all the sources used in its preparation.
Where tutoring is concerned, specific examples that violate the honor code include:
- Correcting work that will be handed in and graded.
- A tutor doing a student’s work, whether in part or fully.
- A tutor answering questions directly from assigned work.