Module 1: Introduction to Tutoring
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 guide 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 her 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 manner.
In addition, a successful tutor demonstrates 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. Tutoring is sharing yourself with a student in a way that makes a difference in both your lives.
There are many benefits to tutoring.
- Encourages higher levels of thinking.
- Heightens one's sense of competency/adequacy in conforming to a new role.
- Increases motivation to learn in order to maintain a new role.
- Increases the ability to manage one's own learning and study strategies.
- Increases subject specific knowledge.
- Increases related general knowledge.
- Improves attitude toward subject area.
- Provides more empathy with students.
There are also many benefits to the students who receive tutoring.
- Offers a more individualized, systematic, and structured learning experience.
- Provides a greater congruence between teacher and learner--a closer role model.
- Improves academic performance and personal growth.
- Improves attitude toward subject area.
- Generates stronger effects than other individualized teaching strategies.
- Motivates self-paced and self-directed learning.
- 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. Success as a tutor is also determined by what kind of person and what kind of student you are. It takes a certain kind of person to be a good tutor. Some of the characteristics noticeable in good tutors are listed below.
- 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 in depth.
- 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 points of view.
- Initiative: The ability to see what needs to be done and to do something about it.
- Enthusiasm: A liking for your subject and a wish to share it with others.
- Reliability as a worker: Punctual, dependable, and steady.
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 knowledge
- "The Big Picture"
- The language of the discipline
- Thinking or wait time before answering
- Separation of relevant from irrelevant information
- Techniques for the following: time management; taking tests; relaxing; studying; taking notes; and organizing, representing, and remembering concepts and their relationships.