Tutoring Tips


Please find below some general guidance on tutoring, including issues to anticipate, notes on encouraging students to contribute.

Encouraging tutees to contribute


Your tutee may be brimming with confidence, but they may also be initially reluctant to participate because they are unaware of the purpose or value of tutorials.


Issues to anticipate


When working with young tutees in particular, it is worth being aware of the following possible issues:

  1. Difficulties with expression. Your tutee may lack the vocabulary to explain what about their study is bothering them and may doubt whether they have anything of value to contribute to a tutorial. If a student finds it difficult to articulate a problem avoid the kind of why questions that can make someone feel on the spot.
  2. Your tutee may feel obliged to defer you. Bear in mind that your tutee may be a little intimidated and try to encourage their opinions to build confidence.
  3. Your tutee may see you as an assessor. This is more likely with the younger age-group and something to be aware of.
  4. Your tutee may be confused as to how to work together with a tutor in a tutorial, having never had one-to-one before.


Encouraging Tutees to contribute: basic principles


Bear in mind that tutees are more likely to engage when:

  • They feel comfortable with you
  • Respect is shown and support is given
  • Learning is seen as a co-operative exercise
  • There is a clear understanding of what has to be learnt
  • He/she understands the importance of participation
  • The tutee is set realistic and achievable tasks
  • Methods are used which encourage tutee contributions

Introducing tutorials


When you are starting an activity and seeking to draw the tutee into purposeful work you could try a brief introduction to your planned activity and then either direct the tutee to the activity (e.g. a text passage or problem) or ask an open-ended question to get discussion underway ("What do you think of...").


During tutorials - Directing Discussion


Think about:

  • Giving supportive feedback
  • Encouraging broader or deeper focus
  • Correcting misunderstanding

Feeding back to tutees on their skills/abilities:

  • Comment on use of particular skills
  • Encourage practice of neglected skills
  • Give constructive feedback and try to link to specifics
  • Be encouraging and friendly when commenting on work

Balancing tutor/tutee contributions:

  • Review your levels of intervention
  • Think about trigger material
  • Balance feedback with space
  • Invite in quiet tutees

Closing Tutorials

If you are setting homework, spend time discussing how to tackle it and answering any questions the tutee might raise. To get an idea of feedback on how your tutee feels lessons are progressing ask "light touch" questions, e.g.:

  • What questions are on your mind at the end of this session?
  • What has been the most significant thing you've learned?
  • Are there any questions on your mind following this session?


Not Contributing/Cries For Help


Avoid spelling out the answer, or the point of the exercise is removed. Try giving broad hints or outlining key steps before coming to the eventual answer.

  • Give some encouragement: students can stop handing in work when they feel they are dropping behind. Make sure the tasks are manageable.
  • Giving constructive advice on how to catch up



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