Tutorial services for students at Bilkent University an evaluation after five years
To realize our mission as academic coordinators for engineering students at Bilkent University, we facilitate in different ways tutorial services. These focus on the first year courses for physics, mathematics and computer science, which are courses that turn out to be difficult, as students' comments and grades often show. Most tutorial services are realized in cooperation with the Departments. Senior undergraduate students or graduate students are hired to work as laboratory assistants or as homework graders, or to offer recitation classes. During these classes questions are answered, difficult issues are explained, while many exercises are done to gain the necessary routine for applying the theory. Such classes can form together with theory classes and laboratory sessions a consistent unity of different working forms. Besides these services, which are scheduled regularly and for which participation often is included in the grading, we coordinate tutorials on demand, for students asking for them. Another idea behind the tutorial services is that they give the possibility for advanced students to practice their teaching and communication skills. We organize application procedures, hire the students accepted for the job, follow their work with duty reports to be submitted by them, try to coach them in different ways. By participating in workshops, where special attention is given to strategies for active learning, tutors can work for a teaching certificate. After they finished their job satisfactorily, tutors may ask for a 'thank you letter', as a useful academic reference. Everything considered, although the infrastructure for the tutorial services is quite challenging, they form a useful tool for our mission as student coordinators.