Tutoring Frequently Asked Questions

1. I am really struggling with the problem sets I am being assigned for homework. What can I do?

You could go and see your professor or your TA for help during office hours. You could make an appointment at the RGASC. You could join a FSG if there is one available for your course.

You should not ask another classmate for help or look at their homework. You should not go to a tutor and get them to solve the problem for you. You should not post your homework problem online and ask for an answer.

2. English is not my first language and I want to get help in my native language. What can I do?

You should probably first consider why you are struggling in English. Is it a vocabulary/grammar issue? Is the class too difficult? Does the professor speak too quickly? You could always go to the RGASC for advice on how to get better in English, but as an alternative you could hire a tutor (in your native language) to help you review the textbook material or the readings. The tutor can help you understand the material, but they cannot use your professor’s notes, slides, handouts, or other materials in the process of teaching (this violates intellectual property rights). Before you decide to pay money for services, remember that the university encourages you to use its resources - talk to your professor.

You should not pay or attend tutoring sessions where the tutor is using your professor’s notes, slides, handouts, or other course materials (other than the textbook)

3. Why should I care about Academic Integrity?

Every member of the university community has an obligation to uphold certain standards and to share knowledge with integrity. By respecting the principles of academic integrity, you are including yourself in a community of scholars, and you are ensuring that the degree you obtain at the end of your studies has been earned honestly and with integrity. If you are unsure about what all this means and you think you need more information, consider attending one of the RGASC’s academic workshops on this topic or make a face-to-face appointment.

4. I need help with proofreading and editing. Can I hire a tutor to help me?

We acknowledge that writing is a challenging task and that the editing process can be particularly difficult. Any time that you get assistance from someone who makes changes to your work, even if it is a minor change (like a spelling mistake), you are violating UTM’s Code of Behaviour on Academic Matters. Instead of hiring an editor/proofreader, consider making an appointment at the RGASC and learn strategies to edit your own paper. Knowing these strategies will save you time and money!

5. Everyone in my class is using tutoring services because getting into my program is really competitive. If I do not use these services, I won’t be accepted into my program.

First, there is a difference between tutoring services and academic integrity issues. Tutoring services that provide learning opportunities but do not contribute to helping you with assessed work may be perfectly acceptable options. It is up to you to know the UTM Code of Behaviour on Academic Matters and to make your own decision about whether or not to pay for additional tutoring assistance. But before you sign up for these external programs, it is important to remember that these tutoring services are not regulated by the university, so the quality of the service may not be very good. You may want to consider alternatives instead. You can learn study techniques at the RGASC, get help on papers/problem sets by your TA, go to your professor’s office hours, or attend a Facilitated Study Group (FSG) if offered in your course.

6. I am behind in the readings for the course and it is a really important course for my program. Can I hire a tutor to help me with the readings?

Yes, you can hire a tutor to help you with the readings, but you may want to reflect on a couple of questions. Why are you behind on the readings? Have you procrastinated? If the answer is yes, there are strategies you can learn for future courses that may help prevent this from reoccurring. Are you struggling to understand the content in the readings? If the answer is yes, have you considered talking to your professor or TA. Remember that a tutor may not be able to provide the same level of understanding as the professor teaching the course. It is important that you are able to rely on yourself to get you through the course readings, rather than relying on someone else to help you. If you need help with reading, consider taking the workshop series - The Elements of Academic Reading – or make a face-to-face appointment to discuss reading strategies with a professional.

7. Can I work in groups with my friends to complete a project?

This depends on the project. If you are being assessed as an individual, then working on a project with others would be a form of collusion. Certainly, you are encouraged to get together with your peers and talk about the readings or course material, but you are not permitted to work together to complete an assignment (e.g. you couldn’t write the same paper as your peer and then submit the same/similar responses). The RGASC offers Facilitated Study Groups (FSGs), which you are encouraged to attend. FSGs offer the same kind of group support, but in a way that is appropriate and that does not violate UTM’s Code of Behaviour on Academic Matters.

8. I’m not doing as well in my courses as I need to and a tutoring service seems like a good solution. What’s wrong with getting help if I need it?

On the surface, there is nothing wrong with getting help from a tutoring service, but remember that not all tutoring options are good, plus, they are expensive. There are free options available on campus that have been designed to support you with your coursework, so seeking external support seems like a waste of time and money. If you need help with reading or writing you might consider workshops on The Elements of Academic Reading or The Elements of Academic Writing.

9. I am too shy to seek out support from my professor or TA and too proud to ask for help from the RGASC. What can I do?

The RGASC offers online writing appointments in addition to the face-to-face ones, so you can make the appointment and submit your work without ever having to enter the Centre. Yet, being shy is something that can (and should) be addressed. We would encourage you to try and talk with your professors or TAs at certain points throughout the term. If you go through university and never really talk to anyone, you are likely missing out on a big part of your education.

Click here to visit the academic integrity website for warnings regarding the risks of illegitimate tutoring services.