Kiosk Guides for Learning

In giving advice, seek to help, not please, your friend.
Solon 638 - 559 BCE
Athenian statesman/poet

Cooperative learning series


A tutor provides expertise, experience, and encouragement.
They do not provide "answers," but rather assist in problem solving, in getting answers.
The challenge is to focus on assignments within the context they are assigned.

Tutors should not be expected to diagnose learning disabilities.
Diagnosis should take place outside of the tutoring process by a professional academic counselor. If a larger problem becomes apparent, referral is the best strategy.

Tutoring strategies:

Seek out training to be a more effective tutor:
This includes subject matter as well as the tutoring procedures

Clearly establish expectations for your learner
What are the expectations of the learner?
of the teacher? and of those close to the learner
(classmates, department, school, family, etc.)

Keep and follow a consistent set of rules
Write them down; post them; refer to them!
Rules are necessary, but must be mutually agreed upon with the learner.
They must be fair and enforced consistently.
Rules cut down on unnecessary struggles.

Have a clear idea of your own strengths and limitations,
and what skills or knowledge you can offer as a tutor.
One reward of tutoring is the opportunity to use and apply what you have learned

Know the learner
Discover his or her strengths and challenges in learning.
Under what circumstances does he or she learn best? poorly?
(Do not assume that everyone's learning styles or conditions are the same,
or similar to yours)

Build a relationship and trust.

  • Be aware of the differences between you and the learner.
    You are not trying to change the learner, but to accommodate and use their learning style(s) in order to complete the tasks.
    Since you are more experienced,
    it is your challenge to adjust, adapt, or find a way
  • Be open and honest
    Sarcasm and condescension are not productive.
    We do not tutor to impress, but rather to help.
  • Do not be afraid to acknowledge
    that the chemistry between you and the learner isn't right,
    and that another tutor might be more effective.
    The goal is to help, not endure

Make sure the learner knows it is safe to not succeed at first
Learning is a process that often involves unsuccessful attempts.
This is not failure since options are eliminated toward the correct solution.
Learning and problem solving require passing through a period of sorting through facts and options toward success.

The tutoring session:

Listen closely to work out the real problem
Check to see if the learner has prepared with some time and effort
and attempted the assignments

Assess the situation
Think in terms of realistic objectives; develop a "contract" of

  • agreed upon learning outcomes
  • expectations of communication
    (availability, one/several sessions;
    means of communication (face-to-face, e-mail, telephone, etc.)

Use questions to enhance problem solving

Demonstrate or model similar processes

Don't be afraid to reveal that you don't know something
You can refer the learner to more sources, including the teacher
You can take the opportunity to learn/problem-solve, and bring back answers,
and demonstrate that you are in a learning process as well

Give positive feedback, use encouraging vocabulary
Find success, and reinforce effort, in even minor accomplishment

Summarize and review: Enable follow up

Celebrate accomplishment!

Keep records for future reference

See also
The foreign language tutoring staff of The Academic Advantage,
offering private tutoring for academic subjects & standardized exams,
have contributed seven translations to the Study Guides.

Cooperative learning series

Collaborative learning | Group projects | Active Listening |
Conflict resolution | Case study: conflict resolution | Peer mediation |
Tutoring guidelines | Using feedback with tutors