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Tutoring Strategies

The following section will briefly discuss three of the most commonly used tutoring techniques:

1)  Diagnosis Method - tests for basic skills, comprehension and retention of new material:

Short quiz - may be given to the student at the beginning of each tutorial session.  However, assure the student that the purpose of this is to review, informally indicate to the tutor the areas of difficulty, and to identify and then rectify, any patterns in those trouble areas.



Series of questions
- the tutees' response will indicate to the tutor not only the level of mastery, but monitor the readiness of the tutee to deal with the material on hand or continue to learn the new material.


Yes/ No answers


Closed answers
- there is only one answer (usually used to check facts).

2)  Socratic Method - helps the student to "go beyond" the written material while encouraging the development of critical thinking skills.

    a) Probing

i)   Clarification - tutor directs questions to the student and reiterates their, responses.

ii)   Critical Awareness - the student will justify the answer. This demonstrates the student's comprehension of the material.

iii)  Refocus - focus the student's attention on the relationships between the concepts and draw analogies from common experiences.

iv)   Prompt - give a hint when the student is unable to answer. This focuses the student's attention on the thought processes necessary to arrive at the answer, rather than the answer itself.

v)   Redirect - asks another student to respond, comment or clarify.


The tutor already has an answer in mind. This type of questioning builds on prior knowledge and allows the student time to respond.


When there are many possible answers (i.e. compare and contrast, describe, explain or ask "what if" questions). This technique helps the student to expand understanding of concepts.

3) Diagnosis through observation - based on the observation of the student's behavior.

    a) Facial expression - "How does the student exhibit boredom or loss of interest in the material?"
    b) Body language - Is the student exhibiting behaviors associated with anxiety (fidgety, withdrawn), a lack of confidence, or shame of their inability to answer a question?
    c) Enthusiasm - a closed posture, wandering gaze, or glazed eyes.

As the tutor you need to be very aware of your students and watch for the non-verbal cues of your students. Be aware that your non-verbal messages will also be watched very closely by your tutees.


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