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Tutoring Cycle Self-Assessment

(Adapted from Ross MacDonald, Tutor Evaluation and Self-Assessment Tool)

The goal of tutoring is to help tutees increase their confidence and learn how to learn independently, eventually reducing their dependence on tutoring. By following these steps, tutors can help tutees become more independent learners. This cycle can be adapted for all subjects, and for group, individual, and drop-in tutoring. Use this guide to monitor your own tutoring sessions.

1. Greeting and Climate Setting

  • Greet student(s) by name.
  • Display friendliness—smile, gesture, small talk, etc.
  • Provide efficient seating arrangements (next to, not across from each other)
  • Encourage tutee(s) to initiate the first task (open books and notes, etc.)

2. Identification of Task

  • Provide opportunity for tutee(s) to take control and determine focus of session
  • Use questions to clarify tutees’ immediate concerns. (“What is the hardest part for you?”)
  • Restate tutees’ problems to help tutee understand what was needed and to focus activities for session. If you need to refocus session, explain why.)
  • Use empathetic statements to help tutees define the problem (“That part can be difficult.”)

3. Breaking the Task Into Parts

  • Ask tutees to break task or problems into steps. (“Show me how you did this in class.” “How do you begin?”)
  • Restate steps mentioned. Have the tutee take notes, if appropriate.
  • Ask tutees to explain the steps to confirm understanding (“OK, so now you tell me what we have to do for this kind of problem.”)

4. Identification of Thought Processes

  • Ask the tutees to explain the general approach learned in class for this type of problem/concept/thought process.
  • Help tutees understand the textbook/lecture notes and how these resources were used to understand the process. Encourage using resources (text and class notes) next time around.
  • Help tutees understand other sources of information (i.e. notes, handouts, workbooks, classmates, etc.) for solving problems. Tutor should not be only source of information.
  • Ask tutees to explain the approach learned to ensure tutees’ understanding for doing similar tasks when studying alone.

5. Set an Agenda

  • Involve tutees in setting the agenda (i.e. “We have ___ minutes today. How should we use them?” “What should we work on today?”)
  • Require tutees to state agenda explicitly to help him/her play active role in allocating time on each task. Jot down an informal plan for the session.
  • Read just agenda as necessary, keep track of time.

6. Address the Task

  • Encourage tutees to address task without overly directing him/her (i.e. “Where should we begin? What do we do next?”)
  • Respond appropriately, but do not interrupt tutees’ thinking. Show attention without taking over. Pencil and paper should remain in front of tutee, not tutor.
  • Encourage tutees to do most of the talking/learning. Do not over explain or take control.
  • Allow sufficient “wait time” (“10 Second Rule”) for tutee to act, speak, or learn before you take over and explain.

7. Tutee Summary of Content

  • Encourage tutees to summarize what has just been learned (i.e. “OK, let’s review for a minute. Show me what we just talked about.”)
  • Wait for tutee’s explanation to run its course without interrupting or correcting. Give tutee opportunity to self-correct by asking questions, then waiting.
  • Use tutees’ explanations to determine if he or she really understands.
  • If understanding is incomplete, return to addressing the task.

8. Tutee Summary of Underlying Process

  • Have tutees summarize process for addressing the task. (“So, how do you do this again?”)
  • Wait for tutee summary to run its course.
  • Determine if tutees’ understanding would allow the completion of a similar task independent of tutoring.
  • If understanding is incomplete, return to addressing the task.

9. Confirmation

  • After tutees explain content and process, offer positive reinforcement, and confirm that tutee really did understand or improve.
  • Congratulate tutees for working hard and not giving up.
  • Reassure tutees that they can now do similar tasks independently.

10. What Next?

  • Help tutees anticipate what they will learn next that might connect to current task.
  • Help tutees understand how information from class, tutoring, and resources is connected.
  • Ask future-oriented question like, “What is the next concept you will learn in class? How will what we did today help you?”

11. Arrange and Plan Next Session

  • Confirm time and date of next session. Be sure tutees know who to call to cancel. Remind tutee of absence policy.
  • Talk briefly about what to do next session. Ask tutees, “What should we do when we meet next time? What will you have done to prepare before the next session?”

12. Close and Good-bye

  • Evaluate progress on agenda (i.e. “We got a lot done,” or “We got off track.”) Ask what helped most and what could be improved.
  • Thank tutees for contributions (i.e. “You really came prepared. That helped.”) If necessary, make suggestions for next time. (“Be sure to come prepared, bring your books, read the chapter, and do your homework for the next session.”)
  • End the session on a positive note. (“You made a lot of progress!” or “Even though we got off track, we learned what to do for next time.”)
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