Tutoring: Positive Effects on the Tutee and Tutor
General Studies 350
University of Washington
Office of Minority Affairs & Diversity
Tutoring: Positive Effects on the Tutee and Tutor
When first contacted by the University of Washington to participate in their high school tutor/mentor program, I was honored and felt a duty to help high school students in need with their schoolwork. I thought that I would be an influential presence in their classroom and would help them to succeed. Little did I know that participating in this program would benefit both the students and myself. Even though I tutored for only three months I believe everyone benefited from this experience.
Positive effects on the tutee:
Studies have shown that tutoring sessions help students improve performance on examinations and develop positive attitudes toward the subject matter (Cohen, Kulik, & Kulik, 1982). My goals as a tutor were to help the students achieve these standards. Because I tutored only for a short time, results were not really there. I concentrated more on establishing a peresence in the classroom and hoped to aid them in any questions they had.
My tutoring experience in Franklin High School’s math department was a very rewarding experience. I was assigned to three periods of Mr. Le’s Integrated Math classes that consisted of juniors, sophomores and freshmen. At first it was very intimidating to step into a classroom full of energetic adolescents. After getting acquainted with the teacher, students, and procedures, I felt more comfortable in really motivating the students to do their math work. It was then that I felt that I was a positive presence in the classroom. Some of the positive effects I hoped to instill in the students during my tutoring experience at Franklin, were to first develop an interpersonal relationship and then help them to become more motivated in their schoolwork and to seek help when needed on difficult material they did not understand by requesting more help from me. Their questions seem to signify that they were really trying to do their math. In helping them, I felt like an active force in furthering their education.
Positive effects on the tutor:
Studies on tutoring and its effects have shown that the tutor also benefits from the experience. Cohen, Kulik, & Kulik (1982) found that attitudes were more positive among those serving as tutors. Research also suggests that tutors learn even more than tutees through tutoring (Annis, 1983). Tutoring has broadened my views on the practical use of math as well as giving me a chance to use my interpersonal communication skills with the high schoolers.
Tutoring in math has helped me to grasp a better understanding of the subject. I used to detest math with a vengeance. I knew the material, but it was not my specialty or major in college. After tutoring these kids, I feel like math is something relevant in my education and am getting good practice in the classroom by teaching it to others. Even though I was tutoring only basic math, it was good practice since I do not use it much in my field (psychology).
Another way I benefited from my tutoring experience was the practical use of interpersonal communication skills. Working with the high school students helped me to use my communication skills on a one-on-one setting. I would either work one-on-one with the students or else I helped them work in groups to figure out problems they did not understand. It was good to work with them because I had the chance to observe the different outlooks they had on math and what methods they used to tackle their problems. In analyzing all their different methods I had to try to look at problems in a different angle to help them understand the concepts. It was very challenging, but was a good experience in building my own communication skills.
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Cohen, P.A. Kulik, J.A., & Kulik, C.C. (1982). Educational outcomes of tutoring: A meta-analysis of findings. American Educational Research Journal, 19(2), 237-248.
Feldman, R.S. & Allen, V.L., (1979). Student success and tutor non-verbal behavior. Journal of Educational Research, 72, 142-149.
Hartman, H.J. (1990). Factors affecting the tutoring process. Journal of Developmental Education, 14(2), 2-6.
McKellar, N.A. (1986). Behaviors used in peer tutoring. Journal of Experimental Education, 54(3), 163-167.
Webb, N.M. (1982). Peer interactions and learning in cooperative small groups. Journal of Educational Psychology, 74, 642-655.
Now that my senior year has officially begun, I cannot help but reflect on all of the wonderful experiences with which SUNY Oswego has provided me. Perhaps the most amazing opportunity I have had in college thus far is working as a tutor in the Writing Center of Penfield Library. I first began tutoring as a sophomore during the fall of 2013, and I honestly could not be more pleased with my experience. Though I look forward to graduating more and more each day, I still feel a pang of sadness when I realize that the job I have fallen in love with will soon come to an end.
Since working as a writing tutor, I have acquired new knowledge and developed a variety of skills that will no doubt benefit me in the future. Both my listening and communication skills have improved substantially over the past few years due to my engagement with tutees. Since many students who come in for tutoring may feel nervous about visiting the Writing Center, it is important to make them feel comfortable and welcome. In order to do this, a tutor must frequently ask for his or her tutee's thoughts and opinions, which encourages effective communication between both parties. Thanks to my job, I am now capable of expressing myself to others in a much more clear and concise manner. I have also learned how to interact positively and effectively with students in order to best serve their interests. This is an especially important tool for me to have, since I work with students on an individual basis. Interaction between the tutor and the tutee is absolutely crucial for a successful session.
One of the many methods I have developed as a tutor, is viewing each student that visits the Writing Center not as "just another tutee," but as a unique individual with his or her own strengths and weaknesses. As soon as a new student comes in for tutoring, I introduce myself and then ask his or her name. Oftentimes, I will ask a tutee what his or her major is, where he or she is from and what year he or she is in. As the tutoring session progresses, I typically pose more detailed and open-ended questions. These may include: Why are you taking this course and how do you like it so far? To what extent are you interested in the course material? Are you understanding what is being taught in class? How do you feel about your writing skills, in general? What would you like to see improved? I try my best to get to know each student on a personal level, since I have found that my tutees tend to be more comfortable and communicative with me if they feel like we are on close terms with each other. Interacting with my tutees on a one-on-one basis establishes a stronger bond, as well as a higher level of trust and respect, which allows me to work with them more effectively.
Another important lesson I have learned through my experience as a tutor is that there are many different types of learners. Therefore, one of the many personal goals I set for myself at the beginning of my sophomore year was to discover what kind of learner each tutee is (i.e., visual, auditory, tactile kinesthetic, etc.) so that I can tailor my teaching style and strategies to accommodate the needs of each individual. For example, for learners that tend to be more visual, the most useful strategies may include highlighting, notecard-making, and using pictures/videos to help commit important information to memory. For students that are auditory learners, using acronyms, mnemonic devices, rhymes, and songs generally work best. Over the years, I have used various techniques in order to help my students better learn and understand the required material. Being adaptable to different learning styles and approaches has ultimately contributed to my success as a writing tutor.
Offering positive reinforcement during tutoring is another vital lesson I have learned from my job. Whenever I engage in a session, I try to be very careful about my choice of words to not discourage or offend my tutee in any way, especially since he or she may feel ashamed about coming to the Writing Center. Unfortunately, there is still a stigma attached to tutoring. Many students seem to be under the impression that if they ask for help, they will automatically be labeled as “dumb” or “inferior.” This is a common misconception; in fact, most of my tutees are exceptional students who are incredibly dedicated, conscientious, and eager to learn.
As a tutor, it is important for me to remember that there is a fine line between constructive criticism and destructive criticism. I am aware that I should not simply critique papers, since this might make students feel incompetent or inadequate. Rather, I should make a conscious effort to find positive things to say about students’ papers even if it is something as simple as word choice. One essential lesson I have learned is that there is always room for praise and encouragement. No matter how poorly-written or constructed an essay may be, a tutor can still find something nice to say about it. Not only does this reassure the student that he or she is headed in the right direction, but it also boosts his or her self-esteem. By working to promote positive reinforcement and inspire confidence within my tutees, I am able to have more effective tutoring sessions with students.
Overall, I feel incredibly fortunate to have been hired as a writing tutor at SUNY Oswego. My job has provided me with a tremendous sense of self-satisfaction. The main reason why I enjoy being a tutor is because I absolutely love having the ability to provide helpful feedback on peers’ papers and to assist them with focusing, developing, and organizing their writing. Over the past few years, working as a tutor in the Writing Center, I have received such compliments as, “I received a good grade on my paper because of you!” and “I feel so much better about this assignment, thanks to your help!” Phrases like this not only make my day, but they also make my job worthwhile.
As an English major who understands and appreciates the power of the written word, I take great pride and pleasure in working with fellow students to help them enhance their writing skills. Having the opportunity to witness my tutees’ gradual development into critical thinkers and successful learners is extremely rewarding. My position as a writing tutor has not only taught me important lessons in leadership and communication, but it has also prepared me for a successful writing career in the future. I am confident that through my job at SUNY Oswego, I have gained invaluable skills and training experience that will no doubt allow me to utilize my writing skills to the fullest potential and encourage others to do the same.