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Tutoring Service Room Offers Academic Support

By Angela Liao
Staff Reporter

"It's exciting and fun working with students and all the great people," said new Office of Minority Education Director Leo Osgood of the OME's Tutoring Service Room.

The TSR has been offering free tutoring services to all MIT students who need academic support, particularly to minority students, for the past eight years.

"The TSR is the product of MIT students' labor," said OME Assistant Director Ruben Morfin-Ramirez, director of the TSR.

And to judge by the numbers, its contribution has been notable: Last term, 427 students used the student-staffed TSR and the tutors offered more than 2,000 hours of service.

"It is the students who do all the tutorial and most of the administration. The quality [of the service] depends on the students' interest and dedication," Morfin-Ramirez said.

Currently, 30 undergraduates work part-time under the direction of Morfin-Ramirez to keep the TSR open 50 hours a week. In choosing tutors, the TSR looks for undergraduates or graduate students with a minimum of a B average in subjects they are tutoring, he said.

Training for tutors includes an instructional video. Tutors are also introduced to ways of making students of different race and gender feel comfortable working together, Morfin-Ramirez said.

In addition to being led by students, the TSR tries to guide itself by the needs of those students who need tutoring. "Students dictate what we do. Our task is to find someone [to help students] at the convenient time," Morfin-Ramirez said.

To help keep those students provided for, the TSR maintains a computer database of all the tutors and times available.

"We ask for a 48-hour turnaround time for us to find an appropriate tutor," Morfin-Ramirez added. The current practice is that one of the TSR workers calls tutors until one is found to accommodate the request.

Student input valued

The current system is sophisticated and serves the purpose well, but there is always room for improvement, Morfin-Ramirez said.

Last term, students electronically mailed evaluations of the program. In general, students were positive but were not specific in their responses.

This term, the TSR is asking students specific questions regarding the hours, the efficiency of tutor requests, and areas of service.

"The question is how good of a job we are doing and it should be answered by the MIT community at large," Morfin-Ramirez said.