Peer tutoring program improves grades, fosters community in Boyer

The Boyer Peer Tutoring program helps students struggling with music theory, a course all Boyer students must take.

Music studies chair Cynthia Folio sits in her office in Presser Hall on Aug. 31. | MATTHEW ALTEA / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Cynthia Folio flipped through applications for the Master of Music program noticing a trend in several of the resumes.  

Many of the applicants for the program were peer tutors in college.

“I said, ‘Well, if other colleges are doing it, why aren’t we?’” said Folio, a professor of music theory and chair of music studies at the Boyer College of Music and Dance.

During Spring 2018, Folio and Jordan Peterson, a Master of Music in Music Theory student at Boyer College, launched the pilot program for the Boyer Peer Tutoring Program. The program, which helps students struggling with Boyer’s Music Theory courses, is starting this fall semester.

Peterson, who is completing his master’s this school year, said that there are currently eight tutors being trained to help students for two hours every week.

The four courses in the Music Theory sequence are known for being academically rigorous and mandatory for all Boyer students. The courses make up about 13 percent of every Boyer student’s overall GPA.

Peterson said he hopes the program will make incoming and transfer students, who may be nervous about taking the courses, feel welcome.

The program will also ease the workload of the professors and teaching assistants in the Music Theory courses since peer tutors take on the role of being a supplementary help for students in one-on-one sessions. The material discussed will depend on the needs of the student.

“[Professors and teaching assistants] are trying to work their own studies, grade papers and teach,” Peterson said. “They have office hours, but sometimes they’re not as accessible.”

Professors will recommend students who should join the tutoring program to Folio. Peterson will then contact the students who need help and pair them with a tutor who fits their schedule.

Folio said the program is only working through professor recommendations as of right now due to the limited number of tutors available.

“Some students are a little shy about taking the time from their professor or taking the time from their teaching assistant and would maybe rather work with each other, with other students,” Folio said.

She added making tutors available for more hours every week in the future will depend on what student needs are like this semester.

Adelia Scheck, a senior music history and music theory major, tutored students during the program’s pilot in Spring 2018.

“I think what the students needed, was…somebody other than their professor to explain [Music Theory] in a different way,” Scheck said.

Scheck added that the program gave her some insight into how she would be as a professor.

“I want to eventually teach theory classes myself,” Scheck said. “So it was helpful to figure out what my style is, but also how to adapt to the student’s style of learning.”

Samantha Roberts, a junior musical theater major, was in the tutoring program while taking Music Theory II in Spring 2018. Roberts said the program allows you to fully experience and enjoy the course.

Roberts had issues with sight singing, which is being able to read and sing music at a glance, and got nervous during individual performance examinations.

“The first time I did the individual performance exam I didn’t have a tutor and I did not do well because I was so nervous,” Roberts said. “When I went in for my second one, my professor said my grade went up like 20 points.”

Scheck said most of the students she tutored didn’t need intensive help, just someone who could explain the material in a way only another student could.

While serving as a resource for Boyer students, Peterson said the tutoring program is also intended to bring students together.

“It’s building a community and a culture,” Peterson said. “You can rely on your fellow students and they can rely on you.”

1 Comment

  1. Congratulations to Matthew Altea for great reporting on our Peer Tutor Program in Boyer! I especially like the fact that he interviewed one of our tutors and one of our tutees to get their perspectives.

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