What is Tutoring?
Tutoring is an age-old practice. The dictionary
definition describes a tutor as a person who
gives individual, or in some cases small group,
instruction. The purpose of tutoring is to
help students help themselves, or to assist or
them to the point at which they become an independent
learner, and thus no longer need a tutor. The role of the tutor is diverse.
Content knowledge is an essential ingredient for
a tutor; however, to be truly effective, a tutor
must combine content knowledge with empathy, honesty
and humor. Empathy requires a tutor to "read" the
emotional states, attitudes and perceptions of
their students. Empathy is the ability to see others
from their personal frame of reference, and to
communicate this understanding to the person involved.
In order for tutors to establish a supportive relationship
with their students, tutors must be open and honest.
Students are often reluctant to talk with a stranger
about their academic problems. If a tutor is perceived
as genuine and having a strong desire to listen,
students will be more willing to open up and discuss
their problems. Humor can also play an important
part in a tutoring session. Humor can reduce tension.
Shared laughter is a powerful way to reinforce
learning. Humor can set students at ease and increase
rapport. Humor can also be used to compliment,
to guide or to provide negative feedback in a positive
In addition, a successful tutor demonstates a caring attitude. Caring consists of being organized
for the tutoring session, being punctual, establishing
a learning relationship with the student, developing unique tutoring
strategies, and becoming familiar
with the learning process. Ultimately, tutoring
is sharing yourself with another student in a way
that makes a difference in both your lives.
There are many benefits to tutoring.
- Heightens sense of competency/adequacy in conforming
to new role.
- Encourages higher levels of thinking.
- Permits more advanced students to study below-level
material without embarrassment.
- Increases motivation to learn in order to
maintain new role.
- Increases ability to manage own learning
and study strategies.
- Increases subject specific knowledge.
- Increases related general knowledge.
- Increases understanding of subject area.
- Improves attitude toward subject area.
- Provides more empathy with students.
There are also many benefits to the students
who receive tutoring.
- Offers more individualized, systematic, structured
- Provides greater congruence between teacher
and learner, closer role model.
- Improves academic performance and personal
- Improves attitude toward subject area.
- Generates stronger effects than other individualized
- Motivates self-paced and self-directed
- Provides intensive practice for students
who need it.
- Improves self esteem.
There are many benefits to the college.
- Increases opportunity to reinforce instruction.
- Increases positive student interaction.
- Enhances measurable positive changes in attitude
towards teaching/learning for the participants.
- Improves educational climate.
- Facilitates ethnic and racial integration.
Characteristics of Good Tutors
Intelligence alone does not indicate success as
a tutor; but what kind of person, what kind of
student you are does. It takes a certain kind of
person to be a good tutor. Some of the characteristics
noticeable in good tutors are:
- A positive outlook: The belief that things can
be changed through action.
- A desire to help others: The willingness to
become involved with people at first hand and
- Empathy: The ability to feel what another
person is feeling.
- An even disposition: Patience, gentleness,
understanding and fairness.
- An open mind: A willingness to accept other
people and their point of view.
- Initiative: The ability to see what needs
to be done and to do something about
- Enthusiasm: A liking for your subject,
and a wish to share it with others.
- Reliability as a worker: Punctual,
Summary of What Students Need:
- Positive expectations
- Mutual respect
- Acceptance that everyone makes mistakes
- Effective communication
- Applications/reasons for learning
- Connections between new material and prior
- " The Big Picture"
- The language of the discipline
- Thinking or wait time before answering
- Separation of relevant from irrelevant information
- Techniques for: time management, test taking,
relaxing, studying, notetaking, organizing,
representing and remembering concepts
and their relationships.