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Lesson 1: What is a Tutor?

A tutor is a person who instructs students and/or small groups in learning a specific subject. The tutor’s purpose is to help students to help themselves, that is, to assist and guide them so that they can become independent learners who no longer need tutorial assistance.  

Although knowledge of the subject is essential, the effective tutor combines content knowledge with empathy, honesty, and humor.  

•  Empathy is the ability to identify with the feelings, thoughts or attitudes of another person. A good tutor will be able to understand the frustrations the student is encountering and be able to communicate this understanding to the student.  

•  Honesty is truthfulness, sincerity, and frankness. In order to develop a supportive relationship with the tutee, a good tutor must be open and honest, and above all, listen to the student’s frustrations, questions, and concerns.  

•  Humor can play an important role in a tutoring session by reducing tension and thus, increasing rapport. Humor can be used to compliment, to guide or to give negative feedback in a positive way.  

The effective tutor demonstrates a caring attitude. A caring attitude is demonstrated by:  

•  Being organized and prepared for the tutoring session  

•  Being on time for the tutoring session  

•  Establishing a learning relationship with the student  

•  Developing teaching strategies  

•  Becoming familiar with how individuals learn  


Benefits to the Tutor  

Benefits to the Tutee  

-Heightens sense of competency  

-Encourages higher levels of thinking  

-Increases subject specific knowledge  

-Increases understanding of subject area  

-Offers a more individualized learning experience  

-Improves academic performance  

-Motivates self-paced and self-directed learning  


Characteristics of a Good Tutor

Although intelligence is essential, it is not always a predictor of a good tutor.  The kind of person you are and what kind of student you are do predict how successful a tutor you will be.  

Good tutors 

  • have a positive outlook.  
  • have a strong desire to help others.  
  • demonstrate empathy with others  
  • display patience, understanding, and fairness when working with others.  
  • have an open mind  
  • are self-starters  
  • are self-motivated  
  • are enthusiast about their subject and love sharing their knowledge with others.  
  • are reliable workers (always punctual and dependable).  
  • are proficient in their discipline  

What Students Who Request Tutoring Need from a Tutor

  • respect  
  • flexibility  
  • humor  
  • enthusiasm  
  • good communication skills  
  • organization  
  • the skills needed to succeed in the discipline
    1. the vocabulary/language of the discipline  
    2. time management  
    3. test taking  
    4. note taking  
    5. organizing material  
    6. memory techniques  
    7. reading texts  
    8. tips on writing for the discipline--You may want to refer students to the Writing Center for help with writing papers in any discipline.  Online help is available. 

Complete Assignment One 

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