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Rose-Hulman Students Are Answering the Call to Help Middle- and High-School Students Understand Math and Science

October 6, 2014

Homework Hl Group

Ready To Help: As many as 30 Rose-Hulman students are available in the Homework Hotline communications center each Sunday through Thursday, from 7-10 p.m., to help students in grades 6-12. (Photos by Jim Garber)

Rose-Hulman students are once again helping thousands of middle- and high-school students understand the principles of mathematics and science through the free Homework Hotline tutoring service.

The Homework Hotline is available between 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. (Eastern Time), Sunday through Thursday, until the end of May by calling 1-877-ASK-ROSE (1-877-275-7673) or submitting questions by e-mail and online chat at

Tutors have been quite busy already this school year. Rose-Hulman students conducted 6,451 tutoring sessions (4,919 calls, 1,021 e-mails and 511 chats) through September.

“The best part of being a Homework Hotline tutor is the opportunity to help students and parents enjoy math and science,” says Angela Hanson, a sophomore mathematics major who is in her second year as a tutor. “Hearing the excitement in a student’s voice when he or she has that ‘Aha!’ moment is what makes working for the Homework Hotline worth it.”

Those experiences are shared by the 30 tutors available each night at the Homework Hotline’s communications center. A total of 125 students are currently serving as tutors, but that roster should increase to 140 students later this fall.

Tutors have been trained to work with students in grades 6-12, and the program is certified by the National Tutoring Association. While you don’t need a textbook to contact the Homework Hotline, tutors have many math and science textbooks, and other resources that schools use.

Homework Hl Helper

Popular Service: Rose-Hulman’s Homework Hotline, supported by Lilly Endowment Inc., has conducted more than 500,00 tutoring sessions since starting in 1991.

“The student tutors are the key to our success. They are passionate about what they do,” says Homework Hotline Director Susan Smith Roads. She notes that the Homework Hotline has conducted more than 500,000 tutoring sessions since the program’s opening in 1991.

Hanson relates an experience last year from a Chicago-based homeschooled student.

“He was really struggling to understand what solving polynomial equations were about,” she says. “As the call continued, I helped him as I would any other student, asking him questions that would lead him to a correct solution and encouraging him when he got stuck. The entire time he showed so much patience, even though I could tell the math was a challenge for him and, at times, frustrating.

“At one point he needed a calculator to do part of the problem. The only calculator that he had was one of those basic arithmetic, solar-powered calculators, and he had to hold it up to the moonlight to do each problem,” Hanson continued. “At that point, I realized truly how dedicated he was to getting an education. By the end of the night, he was so grateful to me for helping him. However, I was also very grateful for him. His desire to learn, even when it was difficult, was inspiring. I was so proud to have been able to help and encourage him.”

Support from the Lilly Endowment Inc. has allowed the Homework Hotline to adapt the latest technology to strengthen the service’s virtual presence and meet the changing needs of students and online learning communities. The Homework Hotline has also become a national education model, with similar tutoring services started at California’s Harvey Mudd College (in 2010) and the University of Southern Illinois-Edwardsville (spring, 2014).