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Academic Assistance Handbook


Section 1: Welcome to Peer Tutoring

"The art of teaching is the art of assisting discovery." Mark Van Doren .

Peer tutors are people who have decided to share their knowledge with other people. Tutors wear many different faces, but they all share one thing – a desire to help other students do well in their classes at New River Community College . Tutors, more than any other group, understand that we all, periodically, need a little help from our friends.

Students value peer tutoring because in the comfortable setting of a working relationship, the student may ask questions that would seem “dumb” to the professor, or may voice frustrations that would not be appropriately voiced in the classroom. In every case, the peer tutor's role is to help the student understand the course material and guide him or her to improved learning skills that will last for a lifetime.

Characteristics of a Peer Tutor include the ability to listen, to focus on student needs, to understand course material, and to communicate that understanding to the student without condescension or flattery. Peer tutors are teachers who have the opportunity to work with students without the pressure of evaluating them. Peer tutors do not need a background in teaching, but only a willingness to share what they have learned with others. It's one way to give something back to the college community, and provides a tremendous amount of personal satisfaction to tutors and clients alike.

Part of this satisfaction comes from knowing that tutoring has made another student's college experience more rewarding and more enjoyable. Peer tutors help students become “self-learners” who value the learning process. Tutors also find themselves being role models, helping their fellow students develop learning skills and study habits that will make them successful in college.

Peer tutors don't have to be perfect students, or perfect teachers. They only have to be willing to share what they know and ask questions when they don't have answers.


A Tutor's Job Description

Regardless of whether you are work-study, volunteer, or assigned to Academic Assistance for extra credit in a class, you will be expected to have certain qualifications for the job of teaching other students. At a minimum, you must meet the following requirements

"" Faculty recommendation
"" Cumulative GPA of 2.5 or better
"" GPA of 3.0 or better in subjects you tutor
"" Concern for NRCC students


When you become a tutor, your job includes:

"" conducting scheduled and walk-in help sessions with
"" keeping records of each tutoring session
"" assisting with clerical chores, data entry, and other
"" maintaining accurate time sheets
"" completing on-the-job training assignments
"" attending staff meetings and training sessions
"" maintaining your GPA in the subjects you tutor



Some Words About Professionalism

Peer tutors represent both Academic Assistance and NRCC. In your role as a tutor, you need to keep in mind that the opinions your clients form of you will also influence their opinions of the tutoring service and the school. Because of this, you need to keep some important aspects of professionalism in mind.

Be reliable. Always show up for your scheduled appointments, so that your students know that you take them seriously.

Be a serious professional. Take the opportunities you will be given to hone your teaching skills, read up on other tutors' experiences, and learn about tutoring practices that can help you work with students.

Never discuss a client's work, or difficulties, with another student. Confidentiality must be preserved in the tutor-student relationship. Never give information about a student's tutoring session to a third party, even a faculty member, without the student's permission.

Maintain a professional distance from your students and their problems. If they need help that goes beyond what you can provide, refer them to the appropriate services. Do not put yourself in the position of being an academic advisor, personal consultant, financial advisor or career counselor.

Be sensitive to differences in language, culture, and background. We have a very diverse student body, and every student deserves respect and attention. If, after making an effort, you find yourself uncomfortable with a particular student because of cultural or language differences, you may ask that the student be reassigned.

Keep your remarks about faculty members positive. Do not allow yourself to be put in the position of mediating between a faculty member and a student. Likewise, do not comment on a particular teacher's grading practices, assignments, teaching style or other peculiarities. Maintain neutrality.

If a student asks “What grade would you give this?” politely dodge the question. You do not evaluate students' work.

If a client becomes abusive or threatening, end the tutoring session and alert others in the office to the problem. You should not tolerate harassment; call Campus Security if necessary.



Academic Assistance Policies

We know that creative people function best with as few rules as possible. Nonetheless, Academic Assistance has some policies that tutors must follow in order to make everyone's job easier and assure that we continue to provide excellent tutoring services to the students at New River Community College .

"" The first week of each semester, tutors will give the director a schedule of the hours they will be available to work.

"" Tutors must notify Academic Assistance as soon as possible when they are unable to work at their assigned times. (See the phone list in the Appendix for toll-free numbers.)

"" Tutors must keep accurate records of the hours they work, even if they are volunteers. You can find a copy of the form in the Appendix.

"" Tutors must enter a brief summary of the contents of each tutoring session in the client's file. If a client fails to show up for a session, that should be noted also.

"" Tutors must adhere to the college's policies on drugs and alcohol.




Academic Assistance has several resources for tutors that you may find helpful as you work with students. If you need materials or help not listed here, please don't hesitate to ask the director or lead tutor for assistance. Further resource information can be found in Section 6.

Computer Based Resources

Students at NRCC use a variety of learning software, all of which has been loaded onto the computers in the Academic Assistance suite in Martin Hall. Students may use Daedalus, Plato, Learning Plus, and Keyboarding Pro on any of the machines in the suite. Word processing and internet access software is also available for student use. Students may print to the Academic Assistance printer located at the front desk, but we ask that print jobs be kept to fewer than fifteen pages.

Several good resources are available via Internet. The director keeps an updated list of tutoring, math-related, English-related, and ESL related sites. If you think your clients would like to use these sites, either in the tutoring session or alone, check the appendix at the back of this manual or the updated list.

Print Resources

Academic Assistance keeps a copy of all currently used textbooks, as well as an archive of books that have been used in the past. All of these contain information that you can use in tutoring sessions. The books are organized by subject and category within subjects. Feel free to browse for ideas. Older books may be checked out, however current textbooks and guides to APA and MLA documentation formats must stay in the suite. Accounting solutions manuals will be kept with the accounting tutor, and may not be used unsupervised.

Fair Use Copyright Laws

You may need to copy sections of books for student use from time to time. New River Community College abides by the “fair use” guidelines developed by Terry Carroll and published on the Internet. Fair use of a copyrighted work includes the following:

"" quotation of excerpts in a review or criticism for purposes of illustration or comment;

"" quotation of short passages in a scholarly or technical work for illustration or clarification of the author's observations;

"" use in a parody of some of the content of the work parodied;

"" summary of an address or article with brief quotations, in a news report;

"" reproduction by a library of a portion of a work to replace part of a damaged copy;

"" reproduction by a teacher or student of a small part of a work to illustrate a lesson;

"" reproduction of a work in legislative or judicial proceedings or reports;

In practical terms, you may copy several pages (less than 20% of the total number of pages) of a book for student use. You may not copy whole texts, or so much of a text as to make the rest of it unnecessary. Make sure to credit the author on the copied material. Also, the college prohibits copying the same item for use in the same way for more than a single semester


Section 2: Tutoring Basics

"Tell me and I forget. Show me and I remember. Involve me and I understand." Chinese proverb

All of the training you receive as a tutor focuses you on the moment you first sit down with a student and begin the work that is teaching. Here are some ideas, inspirations, and protocols to get you started. Remember that every student, and every tutoring session, will be different. Allow yourself the freedom to experiment, innovate, and learn from the clients you teach.

Before you begin your tutoring career, think for a moment about teachers you have had in the past. Which ones did you like, and why? What about their teaching styles, attitudes, personalities compelled you? What did they do that you can emulate as you work with students?

On the other side of the coin, think about teachers whose classes you disliked. What made their classes difficult, or unenjoyable? What characteristics did they exhibit that made them less effective?


Tutoring Sessions

What follows is a suggested protocol that may help you as you begin in your tutoring career. Soon, however, your own teaching style will emerge, and you will grow more comfortable in your role. Feel free to adapt the formula to suit your students' needs.

"" Prepare for the session by getting the books, equipment (calculators, etc.), and supplies that you will need. If you have prepared assignments for the student, have those ready as well.

"" Start the session by introducing yourself and getting to know the student. If you have previously tutored this student, ask about his or her progress since you last met.

"" Ask the student about his or her weaknesses and/or frustrations with the topic. Let the student guide you into areas where (s)he needs help.

"" Review the student's work and talk through any problems or questions that may arise. Give the student many opportunities to ask questions and practice skills. Don't be too quick to provide the answers.

"" At the end of the session, emphasize the student's good work and the progress you've made together. Summarize the session for the student and indicate areas where (s)he will want to focus before the next session.

"" Update the notes in the student's folder or the database after (s)he leaves.

Some Helpful Do's and Don'ts



"" Relax and be yourself.
"" Be quick to judge or stereotype.
"" Expect your client to keep appointments.
"" Assume the role of an instructor.
"" Establish a rapport.
"" Do your client's assignments.
"" Respect your client.
"" Be afraid to admit that you don't know an answer
"" Maintain confidentiality.
"" Be sensitive and patient.
"" Be informative, not intimidating.
"" Be positive.
"" Encourage independence.
"" Be flexible.
"" Be a good listener and explainer.
"" Encourage your client to focus.
"" Have confidence in yourself.
"" Share experience and knowledge.
"" Be on time.
"" Set the same standards of effort for all your clients.
"" Begin tutoring at the client's level.
"" Indicate right or wrong answers without disapproval.
"" Make sure your client understands how you arrive at answers.
"" Be creative and imaginative.
"" Be sensitive to emotional or psychological problems.
"" Always end your session on a positive note.


Communication Skills

Communication involves much more than talking to someone. It includes listening, speaking, responding to non-verbal cues, and sending non-verbal cues. It involves not only the spoken language, but body language as well. Being aware of the many ways people communicate their ideas and feelings will make you a better tutor, and will make your students more comfortable with you.

Listening is the most important skill you can exhibit for your clients. When you listen actively, you can pick up on the underlying, and often unspoken questions students have about their work and about themselves as students. A student who is profoundly uncomfortable with a subject will show it in his/her posture, facial expressions, and other body cues. Likewise, you can put students at ease by smiling and making eye contact.

A Good Listener

A Poor Listener

"" makes eye contact with the speaker

"" interrupts
"" asks questions to clarify what (s)he hears
"" jumps to conclusions
"" questions the speaker about his or her feelings
"" finishes sentences for the speaker
"" repeats some of the speaker's thought
"" does not pay attention, but slumps and looks around
"" does not rush the speaker
"" changes the subject
"" shows poise and emotional control
"" writes everything down
"" reacts positively and appropriately, with a nod, smile, or frown
"" doesn't respond to the speaker
"" pays close attention
"" is impatient or angry
"" does not interrupt the speaker
"" fidgets nervously
"" stays on the subject as long as the speaker continues



Session Records

Usually you will tutor the same clients each week, but occasionally you may have to fill in for other tutors. When that happens, it's vitally important that you know what went on in the last tutoring sessions. Session records keep tutors up to date on their clients' work, and allow other tutors to fill in without having to waste tutoring time figuring out where the last session left off.

Session records need to be brief, including the major topics covered in the session, plus any additional information about the student's work, attitudes, or learning style that may be helpful to another tutor. Session notes will even help you remember what the student was working on, since it's easy to forget when you have several clients. Each session record will be kept in a folder with the client's name and kept at the main desk in the Academic Assistance office. Try to fill in the session records as soon as possible after your session, so you don't forget important details.

Here is a sample record for you to use as a model, but feel free to include whatever information you need in your own records.



Session Contents



45 min

Worked on vocabulary; Eric needs to look up words he doesn't understand.



Academic Assistance's preferred method of record keeping is a student database, located on the computer at the reception desk. This database can be found at P:\Share\AcAs\AA2002. Use the “Progress Notes” table to enter session data.


Section 3: Working With Special Needs

"The secret of education is respecting the pupil." Ralph Waldo Emerson

New River Community College has a large population of non-traditional and special needs students, many of whom seek help from Academic Assistance on a regular basis. Periodically you will work with students who have been in the workforce for many years and are just returning to school, students who are deaf or hard of hearing, students with learning disabilities, and students whose first language is not English. Tutors must be sensitive to every client's needs and abilities, and respect the varying experiences that clients bring with them to their college course work.

As a tutor, you can be instrumental in the success of special needs students. All it takes is some sympathetic understanding and a willingness to let the student show you the ways that he or she learns best.


Non-Traditional Students

Often we expect college students to be fresh from high school, bringing with them a fund of knowledge that matches our own. But non-traditional students have been out of school for many years, and have decided to re-enter the academic world either for career re-training or personal satisfaction. They frequently have very specific goals, and very high anxiety levels about being able to reach them.

As a tutor to non-traditional students, you want to keep in mind any generational or economic differences between you and the student that might make tutoring difficult. By respecting the students' past experiences and their bravery in returning to school, you can increase their confidence in the choice they have made. Non-traditional students worry about the adequacy of their work, their ability to remember what they have already learned, and their ability to perform satisfactorily at a college level. You can help them by reminding them that they have learned many things in their years of experience on the job that also apply to college work. By being encouraging and honest, you can give these students the confidence to do well.

The non-traditional student warrants mention under the special needs section because they have several needs you want to keep in mind as you tutor them.

"" Try not to make assumptions about the students' experience with computers. Many non-traditional students have none, and need a lot of help as they learn to use the word-processing and tutorial software. Others, however, have been working with computers for years. Listen to the students and adjust your use of technology in the tutoring session according to the students' needs and preferences.

"" Ask lots of questions when discussing assignments and readings. Learn where the student is coming from and what associations (s)he has with the subject.

"" Avoid using slang, jargon, and technical language that may alienate the student and make your teaching difficult to follow. Respect the students' experience and background.



Deaf and Hard of Hearing Students

New River has won national recognition for its development of programs for the deaf and hard of hearing. The Center for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (CDHH) provides interpreting, note-taking, tutoring, counseling, developmental studies and job placement services for its students. The Center attracts deaf students from all over the region, consequently, the proportion of deaf students in our student body is quite high.

Two factors in deaf experience are of almost equal importance for tutors. First, tutors must realize that for many deaf students, English is not their first language. Most speak American Sign Language (ASL), which differs widely from spoken English in grammar and syntax. It has only three tenses and no articles. In addition, some concepts that English conveys in many words are combined into a single ASL gesture. Because ASL is a visual language, it tends to be concrete. Abstractions can be difficult to express and difficult for the student to understand. Likewise, idiomatic speech can be difficult, because deaf students tend to be literal in their interpretations. Keep your language as free as possible of slang, jargon, English idiom, and abstractions. Carefully explain technical words so the student can follow your tutorials.

The second factor that will affect your teaching is that you will be speaking through an interpreter, and this has its own protocol. Remember to speak directly to the student, even though (s)he will be looking at the interpreter. The interpreter just translates between your language and the student's. (S)He will not mediate the discussion, so don't refer to the student as “she” or “he.” Speak directly to the student, saying “you,” and using the student's name. Likewise, don't say things to the interpreter such as “Ask her what she wants help with today,” because the interpreter will sign exactly that to the student. It can be very depersonalizing and off-putting to be constantly referred to in the third person.

Remember that the deaf student will be looking at his or her interpreter, rather than at you, the tutor. This does not indicate a lack of interest or an avoidance on the part of the student. It merely reflects the reality of the student's learning style. As a tutor, you should adapt your tutoring style to the student's learning style.

The Center for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing has created the following guidelines, “How to Work with an Interpreter for Tutoring.”

"" Introduce yourself to the interpreter and the student

"" The interpreter should sit slightly behind and to the side of the speaker, allowing the student to see both interpreter and speaker.

"" Do not speak privately to the interpreter, as everything you say will be conveyed.

"" Speak directly to the student, avoiding phrases like “tell her.. . .”

"" Realize that when the interpreter says “I” or “me,” those are the direct words of the student. The same is true for word choices, slang, and possible bad language.

"" Because sign language is a visual language, the student's eye contact will be with the interpreter, not you.

"" If you are speaking too fast, the interpreter will not be able to provide a clear interpretation to the student. Slow down.

"" Make sure you understand clearly the student's comments as voiced by the interpreter. Always ask for clarification if something seems unclear or garbled.

"" There will be a time lag between what you say, the questions you ask, and the response from the student. Please allow for this in your tutoring schedule and your speech patterns.


Other tips for communicating with Deaf students:

"" Ask the person who is deaf or hard of hearing which method of communication to use – oral, manual, written, or a combination of these.

"" Remember that the presence of a hearing aid does not necessarily mean the wearer can understand verbal communication.

"" Make sure that the person who is deaf or hard of hearing is looking at you. Keep a clear, well-lit line of sight between your face and his or hers.

"" Speak naturally. Don't speak slowly, shout, or exaggerate your mouth movement.

"" Try to use pantomime, body language, and facial expressions.

"" If you know some sign language or finger spelling, and the person to whom you are speaking uses these things, then you may certainly use what you know.

"" Maintain eye contact.

"" If you have difficulty making yourself understood, use different words or phrases; don't keep repeating the same ones over and over.

"" Be patient, and be yourself.



Students with Learning Disabilities

The Learning Enrichment Achievement Program (LEAP) at NRCC offers students with learning disabilities and/or attention deficit disorder the opportunity to do college level work in a setting that meets their needs. LEAP offers tutors, notetakers, tape recorders, audio books, readers, and alternative testing for qualified students.

Students with learning disabilities have neurological barriers to learning that prevent them from benefiting from traditional teaching methods. LD and ADHD students are as capable of learning as their fellow students, but must use different methods to acquire the same information.

Remember that students with learning disabilities have deficient skills – they do not process information or retain it very well. Students with attention deficit hyperactive disorder have performance deficiencies – they can get the information in, but they can't bring it back out in a form that is acceptable to most professors.

The LEAP Center offers the following guidelines for working with LD and ADHD students:

"" Break down tasks in to small increments of learning and present them to the student sequentially.

"" Present a variety of short assignments.

"" Make sure the student has acquired one skill before presenting the next skill in a sequence of learning tasks.

"" Create specific assignments for the student and give him/her frequent feedback about the quality of work being done.

"" Make sure your activities allow the student small successes that bolster self-esteem.

"" Use as many modalities – sight, hearing, speaking, touch – as you can when presenting information to the student. When you understand how a particular student learns best, tailor your assignments to that modality.

"" Teach abstractions in as concrete a manner as possible.

"" Make directions as simple as you can. Break directions down into steps and present them one step at a time.

"" Review and preview in each tutoring session.

"" Limit your use of new and unfamiliar vocabulary.

"" Help the student visualize material. Draw charts, graphs, illustrations, diagrams.

"" Make eye contact frequently.

"" Speak clearly and evenly.

"" Respect the student's effort and progress. Always offer affirmation and encouragement, reminding the student of what (s)he has already learned.


Remember, speak directly to the student, even if (s)he has brought a notetaker or tape recorder to the tutoring session. Also, remember to cultivate patience; you may have to repeat material many times. Don't be discouraged. You are getting through.


ESL Students

Many students who speak English as a second language come to Academic Assistance for help. Working with ESL students requires effort and patience on your part, as you learn to communicate with someone who may not understand what happens in the tutoring session itself, and who may be unwilling to ask questions.

Two of the most common issues for tutors are the language barrier itself, and cultural barriers that may be difficult to discern. You can help with language by explaining yourself carefully, in several different phrases. Remember that these students have barriers in language only; they are intelligent and capable and will learn readily when you present material in ways they can understand.

Cultural barriers present difficulties, because you may not be aware of the student's background and needs. Many cultures consider it rude to ask questions of a teacher. A student from such a culture may indicate that (s)he understands the material because (s)he does not want to embarrass you by asking a question. Probe carefully to check the student's understanding. Your tutoring also benefits if you can study your ELS students' native cultures, at least enough to understand some of the issues they bring with them to the classroom.

Tips for communicating with ESL Students:

"" Have the student explain his or her needs in his or her own words.

"" Listen carefully.

"" Have the student repeat anything you do not understand. You may have to do this many times, so don't be embarrassed about it. Your goal is to understand the student's needs.

"" As you listen to the student, notice the words (s)he uses. Let that be your tutoring vocabulary with this student.

"" Don't be afraid to ask the student to restate his or her questions or answers in other words, so you can understand him or her.

"" Respect the student's native language and culture.

"" If the student needs help with written English, help him or her learn to write in English, rather than in the native language. Translations rarely work as English compositions.

"" Explain unfamiliar words, jargon, English idiom, or figures of speech. Have the student keep a vocabulary notebook to remember new words. This is particularly helpful for math, English, and the social sciences.

"" Be patient. You could not learn Chinese overnight, so don't expect your students to work language-learning miracles either. Praise them for their successes.

"" Be very specific when giving assignments, setting appointments, and explaining what you expect from the student. Have him or her repeat the information back to you, to make sure it's clear.



Section 4: Work Study Information

" Let curiosity be your best teacher ." Anne M., Age 14

Academic Assistance is committed to making your work study experience meaningful to you as you perform your job, and helpful to you as you apply for other work experiences outside the college. In addition to the information for tutors contained in this handbook, you will have a few special responsibilities as a work study/service learning student. If your responsibilities are clerical, rather than teaching, your job description follows in this section.


If you qualify for work study funds and would like to work in Academic Assistance, indicate that to the Financial Aid Office, which forwards the information to us. You may have a short interview with Academic Assistance personnel, to determine what you would like to do and what jobs you may be qualified for.

The financial aid office will give you a Notification of Employment form that will be filed with your supervisor. You can then set up the hours you can work and receive your client schedule. If you need to change your working hours, you must notify the Director and Lead Tutor, in order to prevent scheduled clients from going without tutoring services.

Should you decide that working in Academic Assistance is not for you, you may request reassignment from the Financial Aid Office. Should any of the breaches of conduct enumerated in the Service Learning Handbook occur, you may be terminated from your work study employment.


Time Sheets and Pay Periods

You are responsible for keeping track of the hours you work. You enter those hours on your time sheet, an example of which is located in the Appendix. Be as accurate as possible, recording fractions of hours as tenths. Your financial aid award includes the number of hours you may work per week, usually twelve. You will not be allowed to exceed the number of hours you have been allotted in a semester.

Timesheets are due on the schedule posted in the Appendix. The Director must have your signed, completed timesheet by noon on the due date. Sheets received after that time will be paid on the next pay schedule, which could delay your check for up to a month.

You will be paid every two weeks, beginning four weeks after your employment starts. Checks may be picked up from the college operator (with a photo identification) or they may be deposited directly in to your checking account or mailed to your home. Questions about payment procedures or wage amounts should be directed to the Financial Aid Office.




New River Community College 's service learning program enables you to develop a portfolio of work experiences that will help you as you continue in your career. Your supervisor in Academic Assistance has the responsibility of evaluating your performance three times each semester, discussing any problems with you, and filing a copy in your portfolio. Positive evaluations show other prospective employers your strengths; progressive evaluations show that you are willing to work on areas that may be difficult for you.


Attendance is an important part of positive job performance. Your clients and co-workers count on you to be at work, on time. Always call Academic Assistance (540-674-3664) if you will be late to work, or absent. Unexcused absences can be grounds for termination.

Being able to relate professionally to clients, faculty and staff forms the other tenet of positive job performance. A warm, friendly demeanor can help clients feel at home, and can make other tutors' jobs much more pleasant. In addition, your attitude on the job affects you..

You also will have an opportunity to evaluate your supervisor and give feedback to make him or her a more effective manager. Your evaluations provide information that helps managers to create and maintain a good work environment.


Community Service

Because New River Community college receives federal funds for work study employment, our students must perform some community service activities. In Academic Assistance, we provide tutoring to elementary, middle, and high school students when necessary. Tutors can also work on-site in local elementary schools in reading and math programs. If you would like to work with younger students, or at an off-campus site, please indicate that to your supervisor. You will not be asked to do those things if you are uncomfortable with them, or if transportation is a problem. Most younger students come to the suite in Martin 109 for tutoring sessions.


Clerical Responsibilities

Academic Assistance offers job opportunities for non-tutoring students, who serve the vital functions of being public-relations managers and office workers. The clerical position's duties include

"" Acting as receptionist and greeting clients, tutors, and faculty members at the front desk;

"" Being familiar with Academic Assistance's policies and procedures and able to answer questions about them, or know where to find the answers;

"" Answering the phone in a professional manner and taking accurate messages;

"" Assisting with records management, including filing, sorting, entering data, making copies and related tasks;

"" Running errands when necessary;

"" Organizing supplies, books, and teaching materials;

"" Other duties as assigned.


General Guidelines for Work Study Students

Remember that your work study job is just like a job in the private sector. The following guidelines serve as a brief review for what you already know but may want to remember in your career as a work study student.

"" Be on time – others count on you.

"" Be ready to work; don't plan to use your work study hours as extra study time.

"" Be accurate, in both Academic Assistance records and your own time sheets.

"" Review your portfolio frequently and talk with your supervisor about including lesson plans, sample tests and other interesting items you generate at work.


Section 5: Resources

"An action researcher . . . is resourceful, committed, tenacious, and above all, curious." - Jean McNiff

Sounds trite, but no one knows everything. That's why Academic Assistance has an extensive library of print materials for you to use, as well as a collection of other helpful resources – web sites, people, handouts, software.

If you can't find what you need in these pages, don't hesitate to ask. Other tutors will always be your best help in finding the answers to tough problems.


Print Resources

Academic Assistance has a library of textbooks, reference books, and general information books in nearly every subject taught at New River Community College . These books are shelved throughout our suite, and are grouped according to subject. A searchable database, maintained by the front desk staff, can help you find the book you need.

Remember that you can always copy significant pages for your students' use, up to 20% of a complete work. When making copies, note the textbook's title and the author on the first page of the copy.

Students may occasionally check out non-current textbooks from Academic Assistance. We do not allow students to take current textbooks out of the suite because we use these frequently, and they have a habit of not coming back. If you need a particular textbook to help you tutor, a limited amount of money is available to purchase new books. Many instructors are happy to loan you a copy of the texts they use, as well.


Online Resources

Some of the best resources for teaching math can be found at http://www.ping.be/math/, the website of MATH Abundance. This site has a wealth of links to other great tutoring sites. A similar site for English/Writing can be found at the Sweetland Writing Center 's site, http://www.lsa.umich.edu/swc/help/resources.html . This site has numerous links to references on grammar, style, syntax, organization, and documentation.

You may want to keep a list of the websites you find most helpful, and you'll discover when you ask that all the other tutors have favorite sites.


Institutional Resources

The New River Community College Library

In addition to its many volumes, the library has a large reference section, many periodicals, videotapes and databases for your use. It's important to be familiar with the resources the library offers, since this will be your students' primary source of research information. You will also want to familiarize yourself with the library's online catalogue. Through its web site, the Library maintains links to many search engines and periodicals. Information on virtually any topic can be just a few mouse clicks away.

During the Spring and Fall Semesters, the library is open from 7:50 a.m. to 9 p.m. , Monday through Thursday, and from 7:50 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Fridays. Sunday hours are from 2-5 p.m. During the summer semester, the library closes early ( 6 p.m. ) on Tuesday and Wednesday. Students may check out up to eight items with a valid Virginia driver's license or a student ID. Remind students that they can also check out materials via inter-library loan.

Faculty and Staff

Your best tutoring resource may be your students' instructors, or faculty members with whom you have established relationships. Don't hesitate to ask faculty members for help. Keep the following pointers in mind as you work with NRCC's faculty to help your clients. Remember, also, that you do not do your clients' work for them, nor do you help them with work that carries a grade, unless you have been given specific permission by the instructor.

"" Have the student make the first contact, if there is a question about course material or an assignment. If the student still does not understand what (s)he is supposed to be studying, then contact the instructor yourself.

"" Use email whenever possible, to avoid undue interruptions. Be polite, friendly, and professional.

"" Never interrupt a faculty member's class or conference with a student.

"" Never put yourself in the position of a student advocate, arguing with a professor about a grade, a test, or other assignments. Your role is to assist the faculty in helping students learn, not to determine the fairness or appropriateness of any particular teaching instrument.

"" Always check with the professor if you feel that a student may be asking for help with graded work. Many professors tell us when they have graded work, or extra credit work, that should be done without any outside help, but not all do. When in doubt, check.


The staff of the Center for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, and the staff of the Learning Enrichment Achievement Program are always ready to help you work with their students. They have excellent tutor-training materials of their own that you may want to check out if you find yourself working with deaf or learning-disabled students. They welcome questions, concerns, and comments that may help their students succeed in college.

Tutoring Software

Many classes at NRCC use tutoring software as part of the course curriculum. The computers in the Academic Assistance suite have access to Plato, Learning Plus, Daedalus, and interactive software for physics, biology, chemistry and nursing. The first three items require a password for access. If you would like to explore these programs, Academic Assistance can equip you with a password. Your students will have their own access.

When you work with clients on learning software, remember that the quizzes and tests frequently form part of a course grade. Do not supply answers for the students, but guide them through the learning process and help them develop an understanding of the material itself. Some students will not have worked with computers before and will need you to help them become familiar with the program's commands.

Orientation Materials

In addition to this manual, Academic Assistance provides you with several tutor training resources. Before you begin regular tutoring, read the manual carefully, making notes in the margins, asking questions about things you find unclear. You will also need to watch the tutor training videotape, a short overview of Academic Assistance and the related services the college offers its students.

Staff In-Service Training

The Academic Assistance staff meets every two weeks to determine administrative policy, solve problems, and refine teaching skills. Often we have speakers from the faculty who give us tutoring guidelines and other information about the courses they teach. Make every effort to attend as many of these meetings as you can.


Tutoring services are FREE to all New River Community College students.