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  • Help you use the materials you have (book, notes, handouts) to answer your questions.
  • Read your work to see if it makes sense.
  • Think about the explanations why something might be true (or not).
  • Help you learn how to ask yourself the questions that they might ask you so that you are able to get more of your next assignments completed independently.
  • Help you use technology effectively.
  • Help you come up with a study approach that works for you.

Note: Tutors cannot provide (or guarantee) correct answers to your homework problems.

To Make 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.

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 her homework herself.

The Ethics of Tutoring and the Honor Code:

Perhaps the simplest way to begin talking about the ethics of tutoring is to discuss the implications of Smith College’s honor code…

“In preparation of class and written work, intellectual honesty demands that a student properly acknowledge the source of all information she has gathered, including the work of other students.  Failure to do so in any degree is plagiarism and a violation of the honor code.  Some examples of infractions are the following:

  • Use of corrected notebooks or exercises without the specific prior approval of the student or instructor.
  • Unauthorized or unacknowledged use of outside sources including…
    • Another student’s material
    • Any research…not done by the student submitting the work
    • Any material found on the internet
  • Use of published notes in the preparation of course work without the specific prior permission of the instructor.” [From the Smith College Handbook, section on the Academic Honor Code].

Where tutoring is concerned, further examples that violate the honor code are as follows:

  • Correcting work that will be handed in and/or graded.
  • Doing assigned work for students, whether in part or fully.
  • Answering questions directly from assigned work.



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Copyright © 2007 Smith College, Spinelli Center for Quantitative Learning
Seelye Hall, Room 207, Smith College, Northampton, MA 01063
Tel 413.585.3091  |  Questions? Contact us  |  Last updated August 24, 2021

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