Learn with me! ETH apprentices help by tutoring schoolchildren

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ETH apprentices support schoolchildren to help with problems such as solving mat
ETH apprentices support schoolchildren to help with problems such as solving mathematical equations. (Photo: ETH Zurich/Vocational education and training)

Difficulties with schoolwork? "Lern mit mir" (Learn with me) is a platform for pupils that gives them access to their own personal tutor. ETH’s Vocational Education and Training division is heading the programme.

Help with mathematics, physics, foreign languages, using office software on PCs - when 12- to 15-year-old secondary school pupils reach the limits of their knowledge, they can turn to the helpful tutoring service offered by apprentices at ETH Zurich. All they have to do is visit the "Lern mit mir" learning platform, go to the " LernArena " section and then select the desired subject. Registration and tutoring are free of charge.

The tutoring programme is offered for STEM subjects, such as mathematics, computer science, physics, chemistry and biology, and foreign languages. After entering their name, email and a description of the help they need in the appropriate fields, pupils are then assigned a personal tutor who can help them with their work.

The tutoring sessions are conducted using the latest interactive video conferencing services, such as Zoom. The tutor and pupil can discuss the specific tasks together on their screens and, for example, work on solutions to mathematical equations (see photo).

The tutors themselves are apprentices at ETH Zurich. For the purposes of the " LernArena " platform, they have been trained in collaboration with the cantonal school for vocational training, EB Zürich, in how to prepare lessons, identify the needs of pupils through conversation and develop joint problem-solving approaches.

The apprentices themselves developed the platform, as they - like most ETH students, researchers and employees - have been spending the past several weeks working from home. The platform also allows them to help each other or tutor those preparing for their vocational baccalaureate, for example. The various heads of the teaching labs and the vocational training team helped them with the project.

"The advantage of the LernArena is that it allows young people to help each other and take responsibility for their own career training. After all, they have to prepare a lesson and pass on their knowledge by answering the questions of their pupils," says Fabienne Jaquet, head of Vocational Education and Training at ETH.

Online career orientation sessions

One of the negative effects of the coronavirus crisis on vocational education is that this year’s "taster" opportunities are highly limited, if not impossible. "Trial apprenticeships are extremely important in the career selection process, so that young people can get a realistic idea of which vocational education path matches their abilities and to avoid any later termination of apprenticeship contracts," says Jaquet.

This is why ETH is offering digital career orientations for the 15 career paths offered to apprentices. During these webinars, apprentices give presentations about their own vocational education and answer questions. If you missed out on an orientation event, you can still view the career orientations that have been held since April 2020 on the "Lern mit mir" platform. You can also read stories about apprentices who discuss the most important aspects of their vocational training and what they like about it.

Florian Meyer