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Over 25 Years, Homework Hotline Extends Reach to Students Needing Help with Math, Science

Friday, October 28, 2016
Homework Hotline Student

Providing 'Aha Moments': Angela Hanson, a senior mathematics student, is among the 35 Rose-Hulman students available five nights each week to conduct free phone, email, or chat tutoring sessions.

It started with a few students at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology answering three telephones from a room that had been a closet in the basement of the campus library. In the 25 years since, Homework Hotline has become an important statewide educational resource, with tutors conducting more than 600,000 help sessions through calls, emails, and chats from younger students needing help understanding math and science.

Student tutors provide free assistance to middle- and high-school students Sundays through Thursdays, from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. (Eastern Time), answering calls to 1-877-ASK-ROSE (877-275-7673) or through texts, emails, and online chats at www.AskRose.org. The primary focus is providing math and science assistance to Indiana students in grades 6-12; however, it accepts calls from students of any grade and any locale. Eighty percent of the calls involve math homework. Students from virtually every U.S. state have called.

View how the Homework Hotline works here.

Between 1991 and 1998, the hotline served schoolchildren in Terre Haute and neighboring communities. That changed in 1999 when a $1-million Lilly Endowment Inc. grant to Rose-Hulman extended the hotline's reach to the Indianapolis area. Then, in 2001, a $2.6-million endowment grant enabled a three-year statewide expansion that made it possible to put 35 or more tutors working each evening from a high-tech campus communications center. Subsequent Lilly Endowment gifts have continued to fund the Homework Hotline's growth into an ubiquitous resource that has been replicated in Illinois, Pennsylvania, and California.

Homework Hotline Logo

"The Lilly Endowment has been a valuable partner for the Homework Hotline and Rose-Hulman," says Homework Hotline Director Susan Smith Roads. "With the Homework Hotline's free services being available, students should never feel 'stuck' when it comes to math and science homework."

One of this year's Homework Hotline tutors, junior mechanical engineering student Hannah Spiegel, called the service as an eighth grader in Bloomington, Indiana. "The textbook just wasn't helpful enough; I needed another resource," she recalls. Encouraged by a teacher, she called the hotline when she was puzzled by an algebra homework problem. "Not only was the tutor incredibly kind, but he helped me understand the concept better. He went above and beyond simply answering my question to make sure that I could master the topic."

Spiegel's hotline experience was so valuable that it "changed my perspective of my studying and schoolwork. As I moved into high school, I found out that the Homework Hotline could also answer my science questions. This became extremely helpful as I progressed into more difficult courses, like calculus and physics. The tutors helped build my confidence in my own abilities to excel."

Now, Spiegel is glad to help others as one of the Homework Hotline's cadre of 140 tutors. "As a tutor, I have the ability to not only help students understand their homework better, but also to gain an appreciation for the subject matter," she says. "I want students to love learning math and science."