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Policy Regarding Tutoring By Graduate Students

Policy Regarding Tutoring By Graduate Students

Preamble:  The Department of Physics and Astronomy has for many years been able to peacefully coexist with a system in which our graduate students provide, for fees set by the individual student, tutoring for students taking our introductory courses and who need more help than can be reasonably provided by their lecture or laboratory instructors. However, during the past year, some faculty have felt that this informal system has been abused by a minority of graduate students.  Therefore, the following policies governing tutoring for a fee are hereby established by the Head of the Department of Physics and Astronomy.

Considerations:  Our Graduate Coordinator has discussed our current informal policy with several officials of the University and two overriding considerations have emerged from these discussions:

  1. the University Commercial Activity Policy states that one cannot operate a private business on University property; and

  2. it is unprofessional conduct to charge a fee of any kind to students enrolled in a laboratory taught by the graduate student or enrolled in a section of a course for which the graduate student is a grader.

Policy:  In accordance with the above considerations, the following will be the official policy of the Department of Physics and Astronomy:

  1. No Graduate Assistant who is assigned as a grader for a section of a course or who teaches a laboratory in a course may tutor, for a fee, any student enrolled in that section or laboratory.

  2. Each semester any graduate student who wishes to tutor for a fee should provide the receptionist in Room 201 with his/her name, email address, and the courses for which he/she wishes to tutor.  This information will be maintained on a web page on the departmental website, and any student asking faculty or staff about hiring a tutor will be directed to this web page.

  3. Individual graduate students may not, on University property, actively solicit tutoring clients in any way.  This includes advertising on University bulletin boards, individually approaching students on University property, or any other activity performed on University property which could be interpreted as solicitation; any graduate student in doubt as to whether an activity would be considered improper solicitation should consult with the Graduate Coordinator.

  4. Tutoring for a fee on University property may only be performed in a one-on-one mode.

  5. Any service other than one-on-one tutoring for an hourly fee which is performed by graduate students in this department should carry a disclaimer that this service is not in any way associated with the Department.

  6. Graduate students providing tutoring for a fee will do so in a manner which is not disturbing or disruptive to others, for example office mates.

  7. Undergraduate Physics and Physics & Astronomy majors may also be eligible to be included on the tutoring list, and they would be subject to the same rules and conditions described in this policy as the graduate students.  To be eligible for the tutoring list, majors must either (a) have earned a grade of B or higher in each of PHYS 1311 (or 1211), PHYS 1312 (or 1212), PHYS 3700, and PHYS 3900; or (b) obtain written permission from the Head or Associate Head.  Undergraduates not majoring in Physics or Physics & Astronomy may only be included on the tutoring list if they receive written permission from the Head or Associate Head.

Concluding Remarks:  The above policy has been made viewing for-a-fee tutoring on University property as a service rather than a business; it is reasonable that graduate students charge reasonable fees for their services.  This is truly a valuable service to many of our undergraduate students and, in the judgment of the Head, it would be greatly disadvantageous to the needs of these students to forbid all tutoring for a fee on University property. 

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