Stefano is 28 and is a master’s student in Civil engineering at the University of Trento.
In 2013 he decided to apply to become a tutor and since then he has been able to carry out his tasks in the disciplinary areas of Physics and Mathematics, helping students enrolled in Physics, Industrial Engineering, and Civil, Environmental and Mechanical Engineering.
Hi Stefano, what can you tell us about the tutoring service?
Tutors offer general and subject-specific advice. The main purpose of the service is to help first-year students, but more specific objectives may vary depending on the type of tutoring.
Tutors offering general advice mainly help students with office procedures and red tape, like filling in a study plan, where to find information on different websites, where to go or who to call to do certain things and so on.
On the other hand, tutors offering subject-specific advice help students in their academic progress. Most courses for which a tutoring service is offered are first year subjects which, in scientific departments, means for example mathematical analysis, physics, computer science and drawing. Tutors can deliver the task in different ways, it is usually the professor giving the course to make the decision.
In my experience as subject-specific tutor at the departments of Engineering and Physics, students could visit me every week at a given time to ask questions or request information, but I also helped them correcting their assignments or exercises, and I have also prepared exercises for them so that they could practice.
How do you become a tutor?
The tutoring service is offered by the University of Trento through its master’s students. To become a tutor, you simply have to fill in an online form. The application procedure usually starts in the summer.
To become a subject specific tutor, candidates also have to face an interview with a group of teachers who will assess them.
Students who become tutors sign a contract and will work for a maximum of 100 hours at one or more departments with a gross wage of 16 EUR per hour.
In your opinion, is this service useful to students?
I think first year students should take advantage of this service: they can meet other students like them, who are not professors or lecturers, and who were in their same position some time earlier.
Our task therefore is to offer some valuable help based on our personal experience, for example we give advice on books that we found useful, on how to study the subjects or how to prepare for oral or written examinations.
More than once I have met my former students who proudly told me they passed an exam I tutored them on, and they agree on the precious value of this service for their studies.
What can you say about this experience?
Tutoring is a positive experience both for students and tutors themselves. It is an opportunity for tutors to temporarily stop being students and experience active teaching, to meet professors, expand their knowledge, step out of their usual environment.
It occurred to me, for example, to tutor physics students in different years both at the department of Civil engineering, where I am enrolled, and at the Physics department. This was a very interesting change of setting which gave me the chance to take on a different point of view on the subject and to answer questions I was not expecting from students.
Tutoring therefore is not only a way to help and support first-year students, but it is also a great opportunity for those who want to play a more active role in university life and become a tutor.