What I Learned from Working as a Peer Tutor

28 July 2020

This past spring I had the privilege of tutoring and preparing students in Anatomy and Physiology courses at Lincoln Land Community College. This was my first experience and was one of the most rewarding positions I have filled. While my knowledge and skillset is in A&P, these preparation tips and engagement ideas transcend any one course and are applicable in a variety of settings.

With the abrupt explosion of COVID-19, it is important, now more than ever, that tutors are comfortable with the material and have practiced other modalities of communication to confer with students.

Preparation

Students are coming to you for help and it is imperative that we, the tutor, have a firm grasp of the information they seek. With the abrupt explosion of COVID-19, it is important, now more than ever, that tutors are comfortable with the material and have practiced other modalities of communication to confer with students. Potential online-only courses can act as an additional layer of stress for some students as online may not be their preferred method of learning, but they have no other choice.  Here is what I did as a tutor to prepare myself to help the student:

  • Review previous copies of the syllabus.
  • Mark/highlight important course objectives.
  • Communicate with instructors on the changes they have made.
  • Review different parts of the course work every day.
  • Reflect on any common problems that students came with and see if I can provide a more fluid response/understanding.
  • Take notes on ideas I would like to implement or new study practices.

Student Interaction/The Tutoring Session

Over the course of the semester, I learned that each student has different expectations when they set up an appointment. Most are looking for concepts to be explained in a different way than the instructor introduced, a clearer understanding of how systems work, examples of key term usage, and test preparation/in what order should they take their test. In my personal experience, very few wanted me to do their homework. In interacting with the students, listening to their concerns, and noting their successes, I distilled these concepts for tutoring.

  • In the first meeting, let the student guide the first 10 minutes of the session. This allows them to become comfortable with you and gives you an idea of how experienced the student is in asking for help.
  • Ask the student what they hope to get out of the course and what their basic knowledge of the material is.
  • Identify what the student is struggling with and create a timetable on when it needs to be understood.
  • Quiz the student and have them write down their answers - I am a huge fan of dry erase boards!
  • When the student has comprehension of the material, have them teach/explain those concepts to you.
  • Create different ways of testing your students, such as spelling quizzes, model walk-through, and short essay question responses.
  • Use repetition. When a student has an understanding, run through it again in a different way to lock down the information.
  • Listen and adjust your practices if your student continues to struggle. Everyone learns differently.
  • Be supportive. Now is the time for the student to pick your brain. There are NO stupid questions.

These methods of preparation and student interaction have helped me become consistently effective, but more importantly, have had a positive impact on my students that reflects in their grades and their continued attitudes about coming back to tutoring. It is important to remember that the student is the center of our attention. This guide is here to provide structure for those who are new to Academic Tutoring, and if not, to give ideas and insights to what an experienced tutor can add to their arsenal.

These methods of preparation and student interaction have helped me become consistently effective, but more importantly, have had a positive impact on my students that reflects in their grades and their continued attitudes about coming back to tutoring.

Every session should be tailored to the individual student and I hope that these concepts allow for that interaction to be successful.

 

This post was written by a guest author. Learn more about becoming a guest author.