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Math Assistance Center tutors find new ways to provide help for students during pandemic

UA Little Rock students and tutors study in the Math Assistance Center.
UA Little Rock students and tutors study in the Math Assistance Center.

Tutors in the Math Assistance Center (MAC) at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock are finding ways to help UA Little Rock students despite being in the midst of a pandemic.

Denise LeGrand, director of the Math Assistance Center since 1996, even has her cell phone listed on the website so anyone can get in touch. Luckily for the MAC, they began a pilot program with online tutors for certain math classes in 2018, which helped them more easily transition to an online format once the coronavirus pandemic began.

“We’ve been transitioning to more online tutors for the past year and a half, so our tutors are familiar with the technology (Zoom and Collaborate Ultra) we use for online sessions,” LeGrand said. “It’s really just like a one-on-one tutoring session, and students can schedule additional appointments through email.”

All of the tutoring sessions provided by the 10 tutors in the Math Assistance Center are free. Students can visit the center’s website to join a tutoring session during regular hours or sign up for an individual appointment. Tutors cover 11 math classes, everything from Calculus 2 and below. If a student needs a tutor for a more advanced class, the Math Assistance Center will help find one.

William Littlejohn, a junior mathematics major from Little Rock, said he found the transition to online tutoring to be easy, despite some initial connection and audio issues.

“I wanted to become a math tutor because I gained a lot of experience leading discussions and study groups when I was participating in the civil engineering degree program at UA Little Rock before I changed my major,” Littlejohn said. “I find that the students that I do get to tutor online normally are satisfied with the aid I am able to give them by means of the computer, whether it be by verbal instruction over the microphone/chat or by email. And like before the pandemic, they seem to value the help it gives them with their various classes.”

Makenna Steele, a senior double majoring in Spanish and biology from Hot Springs, hasn’t let the pandemic stop her from providing her best efforts as a tutor.

“With intentions of helping my fellow classmates and supporting the community, I applied to be a tutor a year ago,” Steele said. “I am blessed to work in a career field that has given me the luxury to work from home. With the new online tutoring format, I have had the pleasure of helping multiple students who otherwise I would not have been able to help during the pandemic.”

Since LeGrand was aware that students were having an unpredictable schedule during the pandemic, the Math Assistance Center expanded its availability to include weekend and night hours.

“I think the online tutoring is working out very well,” LeGrand said. “I received only good compliments about our tutors from students. I am very proud of how quickly they moved online during a pandemic to continue to provide tutoring services for our students. My tutors are all great and wonderful. If students need help in math, we are the place to go. Our tutors are Donaghey Scholars and are on the Dean’s and Chancellor’s Lists. Our tutors are excellent and patient, and I am blessed to have the tutors that we do.”

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