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What can Tutors Do When There Seems To Be Nothing To Do?

Students sometimes skip sessions, claiming there is nothing to do because they have just had a test or they have no questions. But this reason is not valid. For students needing tutoring to meet their goals, there is always something to do, such as:

  • If students do not have questions, quiz them orally. Start with recall questions and work toward questions challenging their understanding of concepts and relationships among concepts. This will nearly always reveal topics with which students need help.

  • If students have truly mastered some material, move on to other material, even if it means previewing material that has not yet been covered in the course (see next item below). If previewing is not useful, you can review; many courses have comprehensive midterms or finals, and regular review aids the memory and the connection of old and new material.

  • If students have just taken a test and haven’t begun “new material” in class, help them preview and orient themselves to the new material the class will begin soon. What do they know about it already? What are they expecting? How do they see it fitting into the course? ... fitting with previous material? ... leading to following material? And so on.

  • Discuss the recent test with students. How did it meet their expectations? How did it surprise them? What did they learn about the course content while taking the test? What did they learn about test taking? What did they learn about the particular instructor’s testing style and priorities? How can they apply all this to future studying and test taking?


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