This Year, Learn the Science – and Art – of Tutoring High School Math

Students at Lincoln High School who struggle with math will benefit from strong mathematics tutoring support, thanks to the ERC/CREATE Math Tutor Corps course at UC San Diego’s Eleanor Roosevelt College (ERC).

The ERC/CREATE Math Tutor Corps is an undergraduate student service learning program offered each quarter that teaches UC San Diego students how to tutor high school mathematics and then put those tutoring skills to work at Lincoln High School, a UC San Diego partnership school and recipient of the Chancellor’s Associates Scholarship Program.

Launched in 2013 and supported by the CREATE STEM Success Initiative, the ERC/CREATE Math Tutor Corps is a partnership between Eleanor Roosevelt College and Math for America San Diego (MfA SD), a national and regional mathematics teacher professional development program housed at the Center for Research on Educational Equity, Assessment and Teaching Excellence (CREATE) at UC San Diego (UCSD).  MfA SD Master Teaching Fellows, exemplary high school mathematics teachers from San Diego County, serve as the instructors. Students enrolled in the two-unit course (ERC 89: Practicum in Math Tutoring) attend five two-hour class meetings at UCSD and spend a minimum of four hours a week tutoring Lincoln High School students in Integrated Math 1 and 2 courses where the greatest need exists.

“The ERC/CREATE Math Tutor Corps program is an amazing opportunity for undergrads to understand both the science – and the art — of mathematics tutoring,” said Osvaldo “Ovie” Soto, MfA SD executive director. “Under the direction of the MfA SD Master Teaching Fellows, the ERC/CREATE Math Tutor Corps approach helps undergraduates deepen their own understanding of high school mathematics content as well as develop expertise in advancing students’ ways of thinking.”

ERC/CREATE Math Tutor Corps students learn questioning techniques that help identify high school student errors in understanding, how to analyze the student’s thinking behind the misunderstanding, and how to create a strategy to help the student redirect their own thinking.

This fall quarter, MfA SD Master Teaching Fellow Trang Vu, a mathematics teacher at La Jolla High School and current assistant director on the Discrete Math Project, a California Math Readiness Challenge Initiative grant at San Diego State University, will serve as course instructor who “tutors the tutors” on how best to work with high school students in underserved communities.

“Although UC San Diego students come in with strong math content knowledge, the Tutor Corps helps them to re-explore different ways of viewing a math problem and broaden their understanding of solution possibilities,” Vu said. “These biweekly classroom sessions also provide a space for tutors to discuss their real-world tutoring challenges and successes.”

Since its launch five years ago as part of the campus-wide, Chancellor-funded CREATE STEM Success Initiative at UC San Diego, 126 UC San Diego Math Tutor Corps students have tutored mathematics at Lincoln High School.  Here’s what some former ERC/CREATE Math Tutor Corps students say about the course.

What was your reason for taking this course? Just for fun! –  Seemed interesting. –  I took ERC 89 before and I found it very interesting and changed my ways in teaching and learning math. – Volunteering. – To see what tutoring is like. – Curiosity!

What was your most valuable experience in class or at Lincoln? Connecting and meeting different students from diverse backgrounds. – Teaching math is not easy, and students think differently. – Working with the students on concepts that I struggled with. – Getting to know the students personally.

What did you enjoy most about the course? Everything! A lot of the information was mind-blowing. -Learning the different ways to learn math. – Learning all kinds of ways you can teach one problem. Implementing concepts we had discussed in class. – Exploring the same topics I first leaned about years ago but in new ways.

According to Marissa Fireman, Lincoln High School tutor coordinator, Lincoln students thrive from their interaction with the well-trained near-peer Math Tutor Corps tutors.

“I feel so fortunate to have your program to support our students here at Lincoln. The students benefit in many ways. . .your tutors are able to meet them where they are and to move them forward. They are patient and always friendly and respectful. Our students also get the opportunity to ask questions about college and to see a young person who is moving forward in a positive direction in their lives – a true positive role model.”

Interested in making a difference in a high school student’s life this year?  For more information on the ERC/CREATE Math Tutor Corps, contact:

Jeff Lampert
Tutor Corps Program Coordinator, Eleanor Roosevelt College
Phone: (858) 822-3557

About Math for America San Diego 

Math for America San Diego is committed to improving the teaching and learning of mathematics in high-need secondary schools in San Diego by providing professional development, mentoring and other forms of professional support to teachers and their districts. MfA SD is a consortium of three partner universities – California State University San Marcos, San Diego State University and UC San Diego– and five local school districts – Escondido Union High School District, Grossmont Union High School District, Oceanside Unified High School District, San Diego Unified School District and Vista Unified School District. Launched in 2008, the non-profit program is housed in the Center for Research on Educational Equity, Assessment and Teaching Excellence (CREATE) at UC San Diego.

For more information about MfA SD, contact Ovie Soto, MfA SD executive director at