By Amanda Groulx
When Daniel Miles graduated from the University of Waterloo, he never expected to find himself tutoring at another school.
But a staggering failure rate in Managerial Finance I and II, FIN300 and FIN 400 respectively, has unofficially brought Miles to Ryerson. On campus, he’s known as Tutor Dan. Over the past three years, he has tutored hundreds of students. He has 30 this semester, and expects that number to grow to at least 100 closer to exams. His clients are all enrolled in one of the two courses. Tutor Dan says his student days help him as an instructor.
“I’ve done these courses for so long, and so many times that it’s pretty simple for me now. I always know where students are going to have trouble.” He said the drop-out rate for FIN401 is about 40 per cent. “Tutor Dan taught me everything,” said fourth-year Business Management student Brian Hardwick. “I was going to that class and I didn’t understand a thing.” Hardwick believes that Tutor Dan’s teaching method is the reason he learned so much.
“When a prof’s up there…he spends very little time explaining how to do the problems, or how to use a formula,” he said. “Tutor Dan shows you how to get formulas, how they’re applicable, and all the different ways to use them. He has a more hands-on approach.” Tutor Dan believes that several factors contribute to the course’s difficulty. One factor is class size, with over two hundred in each of two sessions. Ayse Yuce, Director of the School of Finance, declined comment on the issue.
“I understand that the course has to be taught in a certain way, but with a lot of students you can’t ask questions,” said fourth-year Business Management student Jay Siddons. Professor Alan Kaplan has trouble teaching so many students. “When you’re teaching that many students, it’s hard to see if they’re following or not,” he said. Tutor Dan said one solution would be to lower the number of programs required to take FIN401; currently, it’s a required course for every Business Management student.
“The greatest reason for the problem is that every business student has to take the course. The majority of my students are marketing majors or human resources majors. Their focus is not really on finance stuff.” Kaplan disagrees.
“The whole idea behind a degree in Business Management is that (graduates) are able to know enough about each specialty to understand what the others are saying.” Kaplan said the course assignments foster students’ demands for individual attention. He added students have a free tutorial each week, as well as a private tutoring list at their disposal. There is also the student help center, which fourth-year Business Management student Chrisa Austin found useless.
“I went to the free service in the business building but the tutor didn’t show up,” she said. “I tried again later and the tutor didn’t know how to use my calculator and couldn’t answer my questions.” Tutor Dan cannot be on the official Ryerson tutoring list, as he is not a Ryerson student, but is looking to teach Continuing Education (CE) courses. Without the traditional doctorate, he has applied six semesters in a row to teach CE, with no luck. So, Tutor Dan sticks to tutoring.
He says the Ryerson program should quickly find a new method before more students find an “F” on their transcript.
“Tutoring is sort of a patchwork answer, a short-term solution.”