The Polytechnic Tutoring Center (PTC) is a unique learning environment that gives students opportunities for organized peer learning. Learning with and from peers is an important complement to learning that takes place in class. Students are able to process information differently than they can in class; they often feel freer to ask questions, have opportunities to verbalize their understanding, make mistakes, and work through them, and learn by doing. Students are actively engaged in learning: asking questions, working problems, applying concepts, and practicing skills.
When students come to the PTC, they see peers who are committed to doing well and who put the time in to understand their course material. They see tutors who are excited about learning and who actively want to share what they know with their Poly classmates. These positive messages about learning can motivate students not just to do better, but also to think differently about why they are here and how they go about the work of being a student. Students who use the PTC report that tutoring helped them gain confidence, improve their study habits, and become more aware of their learning style.
Faculty are sometimes concerned that students get too much or the wrong kind of help from the tutors. However, tutors work with students to help them understand concepts and strengthen their problem-solving skills; they do not do homework problems for students or give them answers. Our goal is not only to help students with their immediate questions; we want to help them become better able to manage difficulty they may encounter with future assignments, homework, or test preparation.
- The PTC employs approximately 40 tutors and writing consultants each year.
- In the Fall 2012 semester, 733 students used our services and accounted for 3295 visits.
- During the Fall 2012 semester 682 students participated in a Mock Exam Review Session in Chemistry, Computer Science,and Physics.
- The John Dropkin Memorial Fund awards one graduating tutor each year who exemplifies knowledge and skill in helping fellow students learn. The PTC Tutor of the Year Award is given to the tutor who is recognized for excellence in leadership in guiding and mentoring new tutors.
- The PTC offers workshops on study skills such as time management, textbook note-taking, lecture note-taking, and test preparation and stress reduction.
- The PTC offers workshops on various aspects of good writing and the writing process.
- Students report that as a result of using the PTC they were better able to learn course material and that the center helped them improve their grades.
Talking to Your Students about Tutoring
Students respond differently to the idea of tutoring. Some readily seek it out while others feel embarrassed, thinking that asking for help is a sign of weakness. Given the assumptions that students have about tutoring, telling students about the PTC or suggesting they seek out tutoring might not be enough. You can help students overcome any resistance they might have by:
- Helping them understand that students of all abilities use the PTC.
- Letting them know that the students who have high GPAs are often the students who ask for and seek help when they need it.
- Inviting them to see tutoring as a way of taking control.
- Helping them realize that tutoring can increase their overall academic self-confidence.
- Including a statement about tutoring and specific information about the PTC on your course syllabus.
- Making periodic reminders throughout the semester that the PTC is here.
Syllabus Statement for quantitative courses:
Feel free to use the following statement on your course syllabi to inform your students about the PTC:
Walk-in tutoring is available free of charge for this course in the Polytechnic Tutoring Center located in JAB 373. Other services include the Writing Center and the English Conversation Program.
How to get the most out of a tutoring session:
- Start right away. Students who begin tutoring from the beginning of the semester typically do better than those who wait.
- Come prepared. Please bring your class notes and textbook. Look over the readings and try the problems. If you can, bring a list of specific questions. The more you prepare, the more you will get out of the session.
- If you miss a class, please get notes from a classmate before your session. Tutoring is not a substitute for attending class.
Syllabus Statement for English/Humanities and other courses having written assignments:
Feel free to use the following statement on your course syllabi to inform your students about the Writing Center:
Appointments and walk-in sessions are available free of charge for this course in the Writing Center of the Polytechnic Tutoring Center (PTC), located in the JAB building, room 373. The Writing Center is a place to work on your papers and writing exercises, from writing an outline to proofreading, and even doing close readings with one of our Writing Consultants.
Other services include Writing Workshops throughout the semester, the Conversation Program for English language learners, and consultations to work on resumes, cover letter, and personal statements.
How to get the most out of a Writing Center session:
1. Start early. Students who visit us early in the writing process typically do better than those who wait.
2. Come prepared. Whenever possible, bring a description of your assignment from your professor as well as the readings for your class. If you can, bring a list of your specific questions. The more you prepare, the more you will get out of the session.
3. Be prepared to learn! You can certainly proofread with one of our Consultants, but the aim is for you to become a better writer. Try to come away from your sessions with ideas you can use when writing at home.
Take-Home Exam Alert
Although the vast majority of students who seek assistance through the PTC do so for legitimate reasons, some, on occasion, request help with problems or questions that have been assigned as part of a take-home examination. Tutors are instructed to refuse help to students who request assistance with take home exams. However, because tutors cannot always tell when a student's questions belong to an exam, they may inadvertently help a student do work that he or she is meant to do alone.
Despite our best efforts, we cannot prevent this abuse of the center without your help. If you give a take-home exam or assign other work for which you do not want students to receive tutorial support, please let us know. Contact John Paul Cleveland, Director of the PTC, at (718) 260-3902 or email@example.com.
Request a Classroom Presentation
Faculty members wishing to have a PTC representative visit their class to introduce students to the center may schedule an appointment by calling us at (718) 260-3902 or by e-mailing John Paul Cleveland at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you would like to receive PTC information cards or brochures to distribute to your students, you may e-mail your request to the above address or call (718) 260-3425.