What makes a good online tutor?

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Expertise: 

“Don’t limit yourself,discover new areas of expertise.”

Part of what makes tutoring and one-on-one teaching especially effective is pedagogical content knowledge: knowledge of common misconceptions, common weak areas, understanding how to diagnose what’s holding a student back, and knowing strategies to address those misconceptions.

Collaboration:

“Competition makes us Faster; 

Collaboration makes us Better.”

 Tutoring works best when tutors support students in solving problems themselves. This creates a more active learning environment. Tutors have to hold back however on telling students how to perform a procedure correctly. Knowing how to let students solve problems is really the hallmark of a good tutor. That also means learning methods of giving feedback should be a major area of training for new tutors.

Participation:

“Participation is more important than succeeding or failing”. – Jaicey Cathorine.

Tutors will be more effective if they can spot in-active participation or low self-efficacy in students. Lack of non-participation often manifests as low-effort responses, diminished communication with the tutor, or signs of frustration. Tutors who know some strategies to re-engage students (e.g., switching topics, reframing the problem, etc.) are likely to be more effective.

Understanding: 

Tutors ought to have a solid understanding of how students improve over time. For instance, creating space to review prior material, even if students seem to have “mastered” it once, is critical. Simple blocked time working on a topic often leads to a false sense of long-term mastery.

Other things to look for, 

Motivation is important:

That said, tutors need to enter tutoring sessions with a strong sense of what concepts and skills the student lacks, and be prepared with activities to address those misconceptions. 

Those who come to every tutoring session knowing how students are doing on the assessments are likely to be much more effective. This should go beyond just “the student didn’t do fraction multiplication very well, so let’s have them practice more multiplication problems.”

The more that tutors can pinpoint the type of error (for instance, the student still occasionally finds common denominators instead of multiplying them), the more effective tutoring sessions will be, it just helps with motivation.

Research into math teaching strategies illustrates that students often use “blended” strategies as they move from an inferior strategy to a superior strategy. The change doesn’t usually happen all at once. Tutors are in a great position to help students understand what they need to work on, or to develop study habits that will continue to pay dividends into the future.

Several studies demonstrate online tutoring can improve learning outcomes—but it is more effective when mimicking aspects of in-person tutoring. The key to online tutoring is to identify which elements are typically missing from online experiences, and add these as platform features.

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