Homework Hotline Takes 20,000th Call

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A high school student seeking help on his calculus homework became the 20,000th caller for the Harvey Mudd College Homework Hotline, an over-the-phone, mathematics and science tutoring service for students in grades 4 through 12.

The call was answered March 2 at about 6:20 p.m. by Harvey Mudd engineering student Marianna Sbordone ’19, one of 40 tutors who take calls from local students five nights a week. “I love helping students understand new material, especially if it’s something I once struggled with,” Sbordone says.

The 20,000th caller, a student at Village Academy High School in the Pomona Unified School District, said he uses the hotline regularly for help on his math and science homework. “I told a lot of people to call because [the tutors] helped me with every problem except one because it was really hard. But we figured it out!” the sophomore said.

Launched in February 2010, the hotline was modeled after the successful Homework Hotline created at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. HMC partnered with RHIT to bring the program to the College’s local communities, sharing a common mission to enhance academic performance, reinforce classroom concepts and promote interest in mathematics and science. RHIT shared its system with HMC, provided technical advice for its implementation and continues to be a valued collaborator.

Hotline tutors are drawn from HMC’s high-achieving math and science undergraduates, who are trained in over-the-phone tutoring methods and have access to district-adopted mathematics textbooks and other resources. Tutors receive National Tutoring Association basic-level training, further boosting their skills. They collaborate with callers to solve one homework question and then encourage callers to solve similar problems on their own, inviting them to call back if needed. Harvey Mudd students provide tutoring in four languages: English, Spanish, Mandarin and Tagalog.

Homework Hotline tutorHarvey Mudd’s Homework Hotline tutors helped 2,478 students last fall. According to Gabriela Gamiz, HMC Homework Hotline director, much of the program’s success can be traced to its tutors and local school district partners.

“Our tutors create a safe and welcoming learning environment where student callers feel comfortable tackling the challenge of solving difficult mathematics and science homework questions,” said Gamiz. “Our educators help us get our program information to students and families.”

Students in grades 4–12 can call the HMC Homework Hotline at 1.877.8ASK.HMC, Sunday through Thursday from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.