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Tutors can't always be trusted, Anyone ever seen the tutor do this stuff

  1. May 8, 2010 #1
    Some of the tutors either
    a.) Don't know how to do the problem that a student asks for help with, and as a result either, they will either make up some unreal and totally wrong way to do it, thinking that they should do that to help keep their tutoring job, and that no one would ever know, or tell the student that they don't know how and then refer that student to another tutor.
    b.) They, do know how to do the problem, only they don't explain it properly because they don't like, or are offended by the person for whatever reason, and don't want that student to know how to do it.

    Anyone think that either of these, or other things happen frequently, or have seen either happen?
  2. jcsd
  3. May 8, 2010 #2
    I have been a peer tutor for 2 years now, and if I dont know the answer I tell them that and then we all try to work through the problem together and if we get stuck so be it. Of course I try to make sure the group works through the problems regardless of whether or not I know them because it isn't very helpful if the tutor just gives the answer.

    I have never made up an answer or lied to a tutee because I didn't like them. If you think a tutor is doing that maybe you should talk to that individuals boss and try to get a new tutor.
  4. May 8, 2010 #3
    Uh, if you don't like either option (make something up or refer out), what's a tutor to do? If I know someone else knows the answer to something I'm unsure about, I always ask 'cause I think it's in the student's best interest to get a solid answer.

    Are you sure it's not something far more innocent? Sometimes tutors just explain stuff badly or are bad with certain topics, or their explanations just don't gel with the students thinking. People think differently, so the same teaching method may not work for everyone. I can explain some topics really well to fellow tutors but have it hit or miss with students, and I can use the same explanation for two students and have one of 'em get it and the other one give me a blank look.
  5. May 9, 2010 #4
    In my experience as an undergraduate TA, I haven't always known the right answers. When you first start trying to answer questions (a year after finishing the course you're trying to help teach) the first response is panic, and its very tempting to try to figure things out as you go. Sometimes that works, and sometimes you end up confused and the students end up thinking you're an idiot.

    More experienced TAs are both better at stalling (i.e., keeping the students thinking while figuring out the problem) and more willing to admit they aren't sure how to answer a question. I've also had professors tell me they aren't sure how to answer a question, and frankly I appreciate it when professors are honest enough to say, "this is a really difficult problem, and after so many years of teaching this subject I'm still learning it"
  6. May 11, 2010 #5
    A wise person once said, "I don't know".

    One of the beauties of the natural sciences is that a problem which looks remarkably simple at first glance can be an interesting monster (three body problem, anyone?). A good TA (and Professor) will admit that they don't know everything. They should have, however, experience of approaches that often work, so sometimes by bringing the student back to those key problem solving steps, they can help the student see how to go about solving the problem.

    And yes, sometimes we rattle off those steps so WE can see what's going on clearer as well.
  7. May 11, 2010 #6


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    Staff: Mentor

    It is much easier to make an idiot out of yourself stating that you know when you don't, than admitting you don't know, but you will try to find out.
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