Academy instructors help cadets through extra instruction

  • Published
  • By Amber Baillie
  • Academy Spirit staff writer
Preparing cadets for success is so important to Academy professors that they offer tutoring around the clock.

In addition to homework help cadets can receive from their individual instructors, they can receive extra instruction every day from a faculty member in the Extra Instruction room, located in the Academy's Chemistry Department, or get help from a faculty member in the evenings at the Quantitative Reasoning Center.

"Cadets are very busy, so if they've got a question, they don't have to make an appointment. They can just walk in and get it answered," said Dr. Donald Bird, professor and deputy head from the Chemistry department.

The EI room, located in the Fairchild Hall Annex, is open to cadets from 7:50 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. Faculty members from the Chemistry Department rotate throughout the day, helping cadets with class assignments from any course in the department.

"It's good because there is always a different instructor in the EI room, so I don't just go to my instructor. I can come here and get a second opinion or be taught a different way," said Cadet 3rd Class Oliver Myers. "Everyone has really busy schedules that are different, so for the room to be open all day for people to go to, whether you're a football player, or you do different club sports, it's really convenient."

Cadet 4th Class Emonna Knox said the EI room is handy because she attends basketball practice in the evenings and is unable to attend tutoring then.

"Being an athlete, I have practice later, so when I come to see an instructor, I need them at that time," Knox said. "I thought this room was great because I could get help right away."

The room has been available to cadets for nearly 30 years. Bird said it's a resource they can take advantage of and is there for one reason and one reason only, to help them.

"We want to be contagious in helping them get some excitement about chemistry and what it means to all of us," Bird said. "Chemistry engages every aspect of our lives from the food we eat to the clothes we wear, to the cars we drive to the airplanes we fly."

In addition to the EI room, cadets can visit the QRC, which is run by the Academy Registrar's Office, and open Mondays through Thursdays from 6-10 p.m. The QRC, located on the first floor of Fairchild Hall, has been available to cadets since 2009 and helps them with challenging courses in chemistry, physics, math and engineering mechanics.

"Demand for extra instruction after hours has been phenomenal, with 3,000 to 4,000 cadets visiting each semester," said Michael Courtney, director of the QRC and assistant professor of mathematical sciences. "Some cadets don't even realize they need EI on a given assignment until they settle into their work after dinner."

To further supplement after-hours instruction, the QRC faculty has produced hundreds of EI videos, whose viewership has risen to over 23,000 cadet views last semester, Courtney said.
"The QRC has saved me multiple times," Knox said.

Courtney said there are five QRC faculty, with more than 70 years teaching experience and have assisted thousands of cadets for extra instruction. He said occasionally other faculty will help at the center on occasions of high demand.

"For example, chemistry faculty often help out before a lab report is due or before a course wide quiz, and math faculty often help out before a graded review in a big course like calculus," Courtney said.

This past year, Princeton Review ranked the Academy among the nation's best colleges for most available professors and ranked the Academy's faculty 18th in the nation for most accessible professors.

"Faculty here I think, relates differently to students than at other schools," Bird said. "There are a lot of great schools helping students be successful, but I think what makes the Academy slightly different is the fact we're training and educating a new generation of Air Force officers who will eventually work with us and for us."