Open advising hours and higher-level tutoring announced in math department

Two new math department initiatives were announced Feb. 28: open advising hours and higher-level tutoring. Math academic administrator Barbara Peskin announced the initiatives in an email to all current and prospective math majors.

Peskin wrote in an email to The Tech March 11 that the initiatives “will have to assume a ‘virtual’ format for the remainder of this term” due to MIT’s COVID-19 policies.

Peskin wrote in her Feb. 28 email that the Math Learning Center (MLC) will expand tutoring to more advanced undergraduate subjects such as 18.100 (Real Analysis), 18.200 (Principles of Discrete Mathematics), 18.700/701/702/703 (Algebra),18.600 (Probability and Random Variables), 18.650 (Fundamentals of Statistics), and 18.901 (Introduction to Topology). The MLC currently provides tutoring in “big service subjects” such as 18.01, 18.02, 18.03, and 18.06.

In an interview with The Tech, Peskin described how the “next level up” subjects cover “higher levels of abstraction, mathematical sophistication, and proof-based coursework” than the department’s introductory math courses.

The open advising hours were intended to allow students to receive “drop-in” advising from faculty members, Peskin wrote in her Feb. 28 email. Students could “get questions answered, supplement the advising you already receive from your academic advisor, or address topics you might be more comfortable discussing with somebody else,” Peskin wrote.

Peskin said that the open advising hours were partly implemented due to the high number of undergraduate students within the math department (about 400 students) compared to faculty members (just over 40). This imbalance “requires every member of the math faculty to be an advisor,” Peskin said. 

The open advising hours will also be open to non-math majors. They will provide “a chance for non-majors to get advice about math subjects they might be taking, UROPS, and jobs,” said Peskin.

Kerri Lu contributed reporting.