Tutoring Objectives

McGraw Center’s undergraduate peer tutoring is intended to supplement lecture, precept, lab and office hours and not replicate or replace them. Our emphasis on mastering the processes of learning and problem-solving, especially creative application of knowledge to unfamiliar problems presupposes that students are actively engaged in the course and come to tutoring prepared to make the most of it . This requires, typically, that students actively synthesize and integrate for themselves information presented in lectures, precepts, labs and texts so that they possess the conceptual knowledge necessary to effectively engage the problem sets and related problems, and/or have done sufficient work to identify the conceptual questions they may have.

Our primary tutoring objective is for our students to achieve the following outcomes: 

  • Enhance their approaches to learning from instruction in quantitative/science courses, particularly for solving novel problems by becoming more skilled readers, note-takers, and strategic learners.
  • Expand their toolbox of methods to solve problems by becoming more skilled at explicitly thinking about their reasoning processes, and developing strategies that work for them.
    Our ultimate goal is that students generalize these methods and processes to other disciplines and transfer them to other quantitative problem-solving courses and independent work.
  • Develop systematic methods for learning from problem sets, including: how to apply and transfer conceptual knowledge; identify common obstacles and errors; and contextualize individual problems within the themes and concepts of the course.

To facilitate achievement of these outcomes, our tutors support students’ active grappling with content and problems, and facilitate reflection upon their approaches to learning. Students are prompted to explain their understandings, explicate their reasoning processes and procedures, assess their competency, identify gaps in their expertise, and practice transferring their knowledge and skills to complex, multi-faceted problems like those found on Princeton exams.

Assigned problem sets are used as a point of departure or springboard for developing the knowledge and skills necessary to solve complex, multi-faceted, Princeton “exam-level” problems and to deepen conceptual understanding, but completion of them is  not our primary objective (though we recognize it may be for some students).

Group Study Hall seeks to create a study group-like environment in order to help students become independent, flexible problem-solvers.  To that end, tutors facilitate group interaction and learning so that students are actively thinking, explaining, solving problems and integrating their knowledge and thus making explicit their thinking and learning processes for themselves and others.

Along with our primary tutoring objectives above, our unique objectives for Study Hall include the following outcomes:

  • We want students to learn how to effectively run their own study groups, potentially forming these groups in Study Hall.   
  • We want students to develop their use of resources, including fellow classmates, to the point where the tutor is rarely, if ever, needed for their success in the course.

Individual Tutoring allows for focused and individualized assistance for students who want a more personalized tutoring experience. Individual Tutoring is especially useful for students who want help with specific parts of the course, whose previous experience did not include preparation in an essential topic that they need for the course, or who want to enhance their foundational knowledge through application of the course material. 

As with Study Hall, students who come to Individual Tutoring are expected to have gone to lecture, read their text, and attempted problems before coming to tutoring.  However, Individual Tutoring may be the place for students who, after preparing, are still struggling with defining their specific issues or have a broad range of questions/concepts to discuss.

Along with our primary tutoring objectives above, our unique objectives for Individual Tutoring include the following outcomes:

  • We want students to solidify their foundational knowledge of the course material/course concepts so that they can overcome obstacles to continued success in the course.
  • We want to prepare students to work effectively independently and in group learning environments, including Study Hall and student-led study groups.