15 Quick Tutor Tips

Study group in Hixson-Lied

Photo provided by Special Collections Department / Iowa State University Library

Quick Tips for Tutors

  • Get to know your tutees. Relax and enjoy yourself. Remember you want to establish a friendly, comfortable environment while remaining professional.
  • Be Patient. You may have to go over material more then once, but don't be discouraged. Remember, give the students time to think through questions and problems before you give them the correct answer.
  • Be punctual and bring all the necessary materials.
  • Give lots of praise. When students do well, tell them. Be specific about the praise. (Great job with that equation!)
  • Admit it if you don't know an answer. We don't expect you to know everything. If you make a mistake, admit it. You can refer the student to an instructor/TA, or try to find the answer before the next tutoring session. 
  • Listen. Give your full attention to the students. Actively listen to what they are saying, then paraphrase what they have said. This displays your interest in the tutee's learning process.
  • Inform.
  • Make learning interesting. Use a variety of ways to explain the material and show your enthusiasm. Try to make the material more relevant to the tutee's life. See if you can present things in a different perspective then they were presented in class.
  • Avoid asking "yes" and "no" questions. They don't help anyone. Instead of "Do you understand what photosynthesis is?" say "Explain the process."
  • Set Goals. It is a good idea to set goals for each session. (This session will cover X and Y.) Also, set long term goals. (By the next exam you will be able to do X, Y, Z). This keeps the tutees focused and on task. Reinforce positive behaviors. Behaviors that are reward tend to be repeated.
  • Turn Questions Back. What do you think about that? Or how would you approach that?
  • Ask questions the tutee can answer as well as harder ones.
  • Display your excitement about the material.
  • Remember your tutee's privacy. Do not discuss your tutee's problems with other students or with the instructors unless you ask the tutee first.

*Note of Caution: Do not discuss personal opinions of an instructor's personality. You may listen to the gripes of your tutees—in fact, please do listen—but do not comment. As an employee of Iowa State University and the Academic Success Center remain professional. Suggest strategies the student might use to improve their grades and interactions with the professor. However, do not criticize a teacher yourself.