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Motivation and Tutoring

When talking with unmotivated tutees, tutors might ask some of these questions:

1.What generally motivates you and what's different about this class? Note: The very things that motivate tutors in a tutoring situation (for example, enthusiasm about Spanish or biology) often fail to motivate the tutees, and vice versa; motivation or lack of it is often why tutors are tutoring and tutees need help in a given course. Also, tutees may be motivated differently in different classes and in different parts of their lives. Tutors must help each tutee identify and work tutee's own motivation.

2. What's "turning you off" and why? The class? The professor? The subject? College?

3. What is your preferred learning style and what are your frustrations with the way this course is taught?

4. In what context have you done well, overcome obstacles, etc.? What qualities from these experiences can you use in this situation?

5. When and how do you reward yourself? Note: 1) Rewards must avoid targeting100% success because then any small, early failure puts the reward out of reach and eliminates the motivation. 2) Rewards must be given only after goal is met, never before. 3) Rewards must targets pecific behavior or achievement, not time or intention.

6. Are there external factors like illness/disability, drug and alcohol concerns, personal issues getting in the way?

7. Are there personality factors such as passivity, procrastination, perfectionism, or external locus of control which may impair your performance? Note: Tutors should help tutees foresee outcomes/consequences, take control, make choices, set goals.

8. What would your ideal tutor do? What do you want more of and less of from your tutor? What dynamic has motivated you in the past: respect, caring, holding accountable, knowledge, inspiration, sociability? Some of these, all of these?

9. How did a favorite parent, coach, or teacher motivate you and how can you use this to motivate yourself?

10. Who are the most motivated people you know and what can you learn from them?

Top Ten Tips for Working on Motivation (adapted from George Washington University)

Here are some behavior changes/skills for tutors to work on with unmotivated tutees:

1. Develop realistic expectations for yourself; set your own goals. Develop a positive attitude toward learning and earning your degree.

2. List your motivators for achieving your academic goals: extrinsic (grades, parents' praise, etc.); intrinsic (mastery of material, desire to learn) and other personal reasons.

3. Make a commitment as to when you will work on an assignment. Be specific about when you want to complete it and put the date for starting it on your calendar where you will see it daily.

4. Break down big assignments into smaller parts and work on the assignment a little at a time. Set dates for completing each part.

5. If you need a jump start on assignments, complete small, easier tasks first in order to build your confidence.

6. Ask for help if you don't understand an assignment. Obtaining clarification from a professor or tutor may put you back on the right track and decrease frustration.

7. Find ways to relate class material and assignments to your life or future career.

8. Find ways to deal with distracting personal problems that are making it difficult for you to focus on academics.

9. Minimize self-defeating behaviors and thoughts (e.g., procrastination, low confidence, perfectionism) which are impeding academic achievement. Look for small improvements and small successes.

10. Reward yourself when you finish each task and complete an assignment. Feel good about what you have accomplished; don't just focus on what's left to complete.

Thanks to UWEC's Counseling Services for some of these materials.

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