Purposes and Organization of the Chemistry Peer Tutoring Program

The Chemistry Peer Tutoring Program (CPTP) has been in existence for approximately 40 years. It provides tutoring services free of charge to all students enrolled in General Chemistry (Chemistry 1A-B-C) and Organic Chemistry (Chemistry 51A-B-C). In the spring of each academic year approximately 20 undergraduates are selected to participate during the following year as unpaid volunteer tutors. The program is run, under the supervision of a Chemistry faculty advisor, by two undergraduate Tutoring Coordinators who are themselves former tutors. One runs the tutoring program for General Chemistry; the other runs the Organic Chemistry tutoring program. They are each paid $500/academic quarter for their service to the Chemistry Department. Approximately 10 two-hour walk-in tutoring sessions are offered every week of the academic quarter for each course on a well publicized schedule. Thus, in addition to the scheduled discussion sections and faculty and TA office hours, students in General and Organic Chemistry have access to approximately 20 hours per week of cost-free tutorial assistance. The tutors also offer review sessions prior to every examination.

Benefits of being a Chemistry Peer Tutor

Chemistry tutors work hard to become masters of the material taught in the course for which they are tutoring. In the process they learn a great deal about chemistry. Most important, they learn how to convey the concepts of chemistry to others. Thus, tutoring offers students an opportunity to refine their grasp of chemistry and to gain an ability to explain the topic to others. They quickly come to realize that ones ability to explain something to others is the best measure of ones understanding. Tutors also gain the satisfaction of seeing the fruits of their efforts in the understanding they convey to others. Finally, there is the satisfaction of being involved in a successful and worthwhile joint effort, run by students for the benefit of students.

Time commitment

Chemistry Tutors are required to attend the lectures in one section of Chemistry 1A-B-C or 51A-B-C. They are also expected to attend a weekly one-hour tutors meeting. They are expected to conduct one two-hour tutoring session each week. Finally, they are expected to offer one midterm or final exam review each quarter. Thus, a Chemistry Tutor is committed to a minimum of six hours per week plus the time required to prepare for their tutoring responsibilities. To recognize this effort the Chemistry Department asks all Chemistry Tutors to enroll each quarter in the two unit course Tutoring in Chemistry (Chemistry 192).

Selection of Tutors and Tutoring Coordinators

A solicitation of applications for positions with the CPTP is made each Spring quarter in the General and Organic Chemistry lectures. Applications are submitted online at GChem tutoring page or OChem tutoring page. Applications must include a copy of the applicant's latest UCI transcript. All applicants are invited to participate in a series of interviews conducted by the Tutoring Coordinators (for the current and following years) and the faculty advisor. Tutors are selected by the faculty advisor in consultation with the Tutoring Coordinators on the basis of the written application and the interview. Tutoring Coordinators for the following year are selected by the faculty advisor from among the current tutors. Tutors and Tutoring Coordinators are expected to be enrolled UCI students for the duration of the year-long term.

Requirements for Participation

Tutors are expected to:

1. Offer one two-hour tutoring session each week at a time scheduled in advance by the Tutoring Coordinator. A room suitable for these tutoring sessions is provided by the Chemistry Department. For these sessions the tutors are expected to prepare several written sample exercises or questions that serve to probe the student's understanding of current topics in the course (topic review sheets). These written exercises often serve as a starting point for the discussions that ensue.

2. Attend a weekly meeting of the tutors at which selected tutors present relevant course material for critique by their peers (practice tutoring). Each tutor is required to make two such presentations per quarter. These presentations allow tutors to improve their expository skills in a setting that fosters transfer of effective techniques among the tutors.

3. Submit the topic review sheets that each tutor prepares in advance of his/her weekly tutoring session to the Tutoring Coordinator at the weekly tutors meeting. This procedure enforces advance preparation for tutoring sessions and provides a written record of each tutor's diligence and creativity.

4. Attend regularly one General or Organic Chemistry lecture section. Although this requirement is not easily monitored, experience has shown that tutors need and want to attend a lecture section in order to sharpen their own understanding and keep abreast to the course material. Tutors often use their presence in the lectures to announce the topics of their weekly tutoring sessions and the dates and times of exam review sessions sponsored by the CPTP. Tutors are encouraged to offer their services as exam proctors and graders to the teaching staff of the lecture section they have chosen to attend. Many tutors participate in the instructional program in this way. All of these activities promote contact between the tutors and the members of the teaching staff. They serve to enhance the tutors' ability to develop tutoring sessions that correlate well with the course.

5. Offer at least one exam review session per quarter. These sessions are generally based on discussion of a set of exam review questions prepared by the tutor. Tutors are encouraged to discuss their review questions with the faculty member in charge of the course prior to the review session. They are required to submit a copy of their exam review questions to the Tutoring Coordinator.

6. Write a brief report on their tutoring experiences at the end of each quarter.

Evaluation of Tutors

Tutors are enrolled in Chemistry 192 and are graded on the basis of their contribution to the program. On the Monday following examination week the Tutoring Coordinators provide the faculty advisor with a brief written critique of each tutor's performance during the quarter. This critique is based upon the tutor's diligence in submitting topic review sheets and exam review questions, the quality of the written submissions made by each tutor, the tutor's effectiveness in presenting and critiquing the practice tutoring sessions, and on any anecdotal information that the Tutoring Coordinator may have gathered in the course of the quarter. The faculty advisor assigns a grade in Chemistry 192 on the basis of this information.