College is a new opportunity and challenge for all students, and there are times when students need help in order to succeed in specific courses. While students may be reluctant to go to professors for assistance, many feel at ease seeking help from other students. This may be a function of a shared culture, language, and camaraderie, as students who work together with other students are often on the same wavelength. In addition, many students who provide tutoring services are able to recall and share how they handled various difficulties and obstacles re: specific courses and material. Although the majority of colleges provide tutoring services as a resource for students, there are times when students are not be able to attend these tutoring sessions due to their class and work schedules and seek private tutors to help them achieve their goals.
Need for help on any subject
Students are sometimes unaware when they need assistance. This can be a result of embarrassment over not understanding the course material, or it can be caused by the belief that if they study “harder”; they will understand the material. Student tutors can bring students a fresh perspective to learning specific material, which often helps students relate to the subject matter in a new way.
Before any tutoring sessions begin, students and student tutors need to know what is expected of each of them. Students need to share their student learning strengths and weaknesses so that their student tutors can work to help them. Tutors need to establish an empathic relationship, exercising patience and understanding. Students who can share their study habits, any concentration difficulties they have, learning techniques that have worked and those that have not, can help their tutors prepare individualized learning plans that are best suited for individual students.
For student tutors, preparation is key. Private tutors need to arrive at the sessions knowing what is going to be discussed and how it will be presented. For the students, having advance knowledge of the lessons provides the opportunity to ask for clarification of any part of the subject material where they are experiencing difficulty.
Specific rules of protocol need to be established prior to conducting successful tutoring sessions. Students need to work in quiet areas with no distractions, including the use of cell phones and texting. This applies to both students and tutors. Tutors need to provide students with their undivided attention, and students need to devote all of their attention to their sessions to receive the maximum value for their time and money spent for learning.
Tutors need to consistently question the student, ensuring that the material being presented is actually being absorbed. Students also need to ask any questions they might have, regardless of whether or not they feel the question isn’t important.
When either student or tutor are getting restless, a short break should be scheduled. Using breaks helps prevent “study burn out,” which can lead to poor absorption of the material presented. The breaks need only last a few minutes at a time.
Ending the Session
At the end of the session, the student tutor needs to establish that lessons were learned. At the same time, the student needs to carefully review any and all notes that were taken, bringing up any questions that need to be answered to make sure the material was sufficiently explained.