Offering a diverse range of services to students in an easy to understand and intuitive package will always be a challenge. Often, the best tutoring services for a specific program will be developed by that faculty or program itself because these are the organizations who have an in-depth understanding of what it means to be a student learning the course material. However, having multiple programs across campus can be confusing and difficult to manage, leading to services that aren’t used to their full potential.
Nimbus spoke to Tooba Razi, the Director of Academics for the University of Manitoba Science Student Association (SSA), about how Nimbus connects the various tutoring programs across campus. This allows each faculty-specific program to focus on getting the best tutors for their own subjects, while making it easy for students to find the help they need when they need it.
*This interview has been edited for clarity
How long has the SSA had a tutoring program?
We’ve had a tutoring program for a while but before it was just manually run by us and we had to do a lot of matching – it was a lot of just manual labor. With Nimbus we’re able to really streamline that process.
What interested you in working with Nimbus?
[The association] wanted to streamline the process and make it as easy as possible on tutors. Before it was quite a tedious process manually matching them. Also, if we don’t have enough tutors available to teach one specific course that can also become quite hassling.
There are some courses at the UofM that are pretty popular, like your chemistry and organic chemistry and courses like that. Previously we’ve run out of tutors, but with Nimbus I’m not finding that problem. I find that students are able to get tutors effectively and they’re not missing out on tutoring when they may be needing it.
”There are some courses at the UofM that are pretty popular, like your chemistry and organic chemistry and courses like that. Previously we've run out of tutors, but with Nimbus I'm not finding that problem.
What strategies did you put into place this year to expand the tutoring program?
Right now, we’ve been focusing a lot on promotion. We’ve contacted different professors and asked them to promote our tutoring service to their students, whether that be recruiting tutors or recruiting tutees. We’ve also promoted it on our social media on Instagram and updated our website to include all necessary information. I’m also aiming to get an email out to the Faculty of Science students through the dean’s office, so that it reaches all the students in the faculty and anyone who might need tutoring can get it before the semester ends.
There are four faculty specific programs throughout the University of Manitoba working with Nimbus. Do you feel that helps students, having these very specific faculty driven tutoring groups throughout the campus?
Especially now that we’re all meeting together at least once a month with Patrick [Nimbus Partnership Success Associate], it doesn’t limit students to just reach out to one faculty association. For example, if a student wants tutoring in math, they’re not just limited to SSA tutors, but they also have access to commerce students who may have taken similar math courses or engineering students who have taken math courses.
In the Faculty of Science, we have to take an arts or an english course to get our degree. A lot of Faculty of Science tutors don’t have the grade needed to tutor any English courses but the ESBC has those tutors. So, by working with these different student groups the Faculty of Science students are able to get all the help they needed for all the classes that they may need help with.
”By working with these different student groups the Faculty of Science students are able to get all the help they needed for all the classes that they may need help with.
So you are able to focus on getting the best science tutors that you can, the other associations focus on being the best for their programs and students can pick and choose what they need?
Do you have any advice for students as they navigate school with the pandemic this year?
I think the biggest thing is, don’t hesitate to reach out and ask for help. Everyone’s sort of struggling right now and everyone is just helping each other through it, whether that be academic or mental health or something else. Never hesitate to reach out the first instance that you think you need help because the sooner you reach out the better.