by Krystal Nimigian, for the battalion online, originally published on 2/16/11
In one corner sit the seasoned, professionally hired instructors who are exclusive to Texas A&M University. In the opposite corner sit College Station’s well-versed tutors. The winner’s prize? The attention and time of students.
The tension between the two groups is obvious, but why does it exist?
“A lot of [the professors] are decent, nice people. But there are a few that go out of the way to make things difficult. I’ve heard stories from students of teachers who say, you go to tutoring, and I will fail you,” said John Forsyth, or “Tutor John”. Forsyth said that when he finds this to be the case, he advises his students to keep their extra help low key. “I’ve been doing this [tutoring] for 15 to 20 years. After that time period, you get a good feel for what is in the class, what the teachers are going to do, that sort of thing,” he said. Forsyth explained that some methods students are taught in his sessions, are not to be written on the test because professors might count it wrong.
“In math, there are always multiple solutions, multiple ways to get the right answer. Some professors think, ‘It’s my way or it’s wrong.’ These are the people that let the power of teaching go to their heads. Some of the instructors don’t know the material very well,” he said. Forsyth noted that because some professors are in the dark due to unfamiliarity with the material, they deem an answer incorrect when student methods vary.
Junior biomedical sciences major Edward Vazquez said that his experiences with off-campus tutors have been enjoyable. It was very helpful, fast-paced and practically a lifesaver,” Vazquez said. Statistics professor Julie Carroll earned her bachelor’s in mathematics and master’s in industrial engineering and statistics from Texas A&M. Carroll explained that an open lab is available for the statistics sections. There, students can meet with graduate students to ask questions. With the number of accessible graduate students and times, more than 60 hours of assistance are available per week.
“Some people don’t like it,” Carroll said about the tutor-professor relationship. “I’m sure Tutor John has made lots of money off of me, but I can’t stop it. This is the second half of my 19th year teaching at A&M, so I have been at this awhile. Longer than Tutor John.”
With so much free professorial assistance so readily accessible, some professors display a level of frustration as students go to tutors for help.
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