“The first week we offered tutoring, students were lined up in the
hallway waiting for the doors to open,” Berk said. “We ran out of tables
and chairs, and they were sitting on the floor. The other instructors
and I came out to help the tutors before they got overwhelmed.”
Tutoring hours have since expanded, stretching well into the evening
and now also offered on Sundays. About 500 students a week are using the
service, which is available for the two courses taught at MSLL and for
five others, up to and including introductory calculus.
Next fall, the hope is to add a second room in McKinly to use for
class meetings, freeing up the current MSLL space for full-time
“When I was in graduate school, I heard about introductory math
classes being used to ‘weed out’ students who failed them,” Berk said.
“That’s a very different situation from today at the University of
Delaware. We want students to have a good experience with college math;
if they work hard, we will help them be successful.”
Although MSLL is new, she said the rate of students getting D’s or F’s or dropping basic math classes has already declined.
Students using the tutoring services recently said the help from
upperclassmen who are majoring in math has enabled them to become more
comfortable with classroom material. The interactive work and flexible
hours have been a plus, they said.
For Amy Fligor, serving as a tutor has benefited her own studies in
math education. “Teaching students from different backgrounds and
learning levels has helped me understand how to approach teaching from
different perspectives that ensure they are understanding me,” she said.
Faculty members expect to find the same benefits, said Louis Rossi,
professor and chairperson of mathematical sciences. By dedicating
resources to students who might struggle with math, the department is
developing new and effective approaches to teaching those students, he
“This represents the deepest and most coordinated commitment to a
group of students we’ve ever made,” he said. “We think it’s empowering
for students. We think it will provide them not just with skills they
need but also with a positive attitude toward math.”