Tutor Training Manual

Contributed by:
Jonathan James
The purpose of this Tutor Training is to provide an orientation to the process of tutoring. In the following pages, you will find principles and procedures that have been developed by many educators. They are designed to help you achieve the best results possible in the tutoring process. This material is designed to help you become an efficient and effective tutor. If you begin to acquire a “feel” for tutoring after this training session, then it has served its purpose well.
2. Dear Tutor,
Welcome to the Alfred State Student Success Center tutoring program. Providing quality,
exceptional service is our priority in the Student Success Center. Students are the central focus of
all Success Center programs and services. We believe that all students are capable of learning and
achieving. We make every effort to create a supportive environment where active learning takes
place, and we are committed to fostering a dynamic, effective learning atmosphere.
In choosing to be a tutor, you have accepted an important and very satisfying responsibility. As a
tutor, you have an opportunity to be instrumental in the success of the many students you serve.
Your positive interaction with another student could make a critical difference in that student’s
educational endeavors. Your role involves not only the command of an academic subject area, but
also a strong command of interpersonal skills.
The purpose of this Tutor Training is to provide an orientation to the process of tutoring. In the
following pages, you will find principles and procedures that have been developed by many
educators. They are designed to help you achieve the best results possible in the tutoring process.
This material is designed to help you become an efficient and effective tutor. If you begin to
acquire a “feel” for tutoring after this training session, then it has served its purpose well.
Casey Cowburn
Academic Success Coach / Tutoring Coordinator Alfred Campus
(607) 587-4121
3. Table of Contents
Definition of Tutoring . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
Role of the Tutor ............................................................................................... 1
Tutor Code of Ethics.......................................................................................... 2
General Tutoring Tips & Techniques ................................................................ 3
Characteristics of Successful Tutors ................................................................. 5
Effective Tutoring Tips ...................................................................................... 6
Study Skills: Hints from Experienced Tutors ................................................... 6
Tips for Group Tutoring .................................................................................... 7
The 10 Steps of Tutoring ................................................................................... 8
Asking the Right Questions ............................................................................. 10
Active Learning ............................................................................................... 13
Active Listening Strategies ...............................................................................15
Common Listening Challenges ....................................................................... 16
Learning Styles ................................................................................................. 17
Tips for Working with ESL Students .............................................................. 19
Students with Learning Disabilities ................................................................ 21
Adult Learners ................................................................................................ 27
5. Definition of Tutoring
Tutoring is, by definition, a one-to-one or small group activity where a person who is
knowledgeable and has expertise in a specific content area or discipline provides tutelage,
help, or clarification to one or more who do not. The goal of tutoring is to assist students to
become independent learners and increase their motivation to learn. As a tutor, you will
have an opportunity to be instrumental in the success of the many students you serve.
Role of the Tutor
The tutor plays a vital and multifaceted role in supporting students’ academic learning.
Here is an overview of the roles a tutor often plays simultaneously.
1. The Tutor as a Helper
The tutor’s job is to help students to learn and problem solve on their own. Tutors do not
just give students answers; rather, they are ready to help the student begin to make
progress toward a solution. Tutors understand that learning is a process of
comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis and evaluation. To assist in actively
becoming involved in the learning process, tutors help tutees to:
• Know the type of problem being solved.
• Understand and use the vocabulary of the subject.
• Practice the application of principles.
• Realize that all learners make mistakes but that learning from one’s mistakes is a
very effective way to learn.
• Perform the work themselves.
• Verbalize what they have learned.
2. The Tutor as a “Model Student”
Tutors are successful students, not experts. Tutors demonstrate the thinking, study skills
and problem solving skills necessary to learn new information. Since tutors are successful
learners, tutors exemplify the behaviors of a model student. They must assess the areas
where a student may need additional assistance and take the time to share tips and
strategies that work.
3. The Tutor as a Student Success Center Employee
As a Student Success Center employee, tutors help to preserve the reputation of the
Student Success Center on the Alfred State. Tutors follow the rules and policies outlined in
this manual as well as stated during the tutor training. Also, tutors are responsible for
explaining the center’s policies to the students utilizing the center. During the semester
tutors should report any problems or concerns to the Student Success Center Director.
Tutors are respectful to the students, Student Success Center staff as well as the faculty and
administration at Alfred State.
6. Tutor Code of Ethics
Subject proficiency and knowledge-ability have top priority.
One of my goals is building the student’s self-confidence.
My student deserves and will receive my total attention.
• The language my student and I share must be mutually understood at all times.
• I must be able to admit my own weaknesses and will seek assistance whenever I need it.
• Respect for the student’s personal dignity means I must accept that individual without
• The student will constantly be encouraged but never insulted by false hope or empty
• I will strive for a mutual relationship of openness and honesty as I tutor.
• I will not impose my personal value system or lifestyle on my student.
• I will not use a tutoring situation to proselytize my personal belief system.
• Both the student and I will always understand my role is never to do the student’s work.
• I count on the student to also be my tutor and teach me ways to do a better job.
• Good tutoring enables my student to transfer learning from one situation to another.
• I will keep confidential any information that my student decides to share with me or
that I have access to in the helping process.
• I will help my student “learn how to learn” by helping him/her improve study skills.
• I will remember that I may be a role model for someone; therefore, I should conduct
myself in an appropriate manner at all times.
• I will not comment negatively to students on faculty’s grading policies, teaching
methods/styles, assignments or their personalities.
• I will strive to provide excellent customer service. I will be encouraging, positive, and
maintain a professional attitude in the center.
• My ultimate goal in tutoring is to foster independent and autonomous learning in the
Developed from The National Association of Tutorial Services’ Tutor Code of Ethics.
7. General Tutoring Tips and Techniques
• Relax and be yourself.
You have been selected to tutor because you have the qualities that make you a positive
role model for your tutee. Also remember that you are tutoring your peer. While he or
she has a challenge in one subject area, you may have a challenge in another. Nobody is
• Establish rapport.
Learn and remember your tutee’s names. Be friendly and sincere in your efforts to
understand your tutee as a person with unique interests and academic needs. Create an
atmosphere of mutual respect and confidence.
• Respect your tutees.
No positive rapport can exist without mutual respect between tutor and tutee. Be
nonjudgmental, accepting their personal integrity without trying to manage or change
their frame of reference to suit your own value system. Try for an equal status,
nonpatronizing relationship.
• Maintain confidentiality.
Be professional! Information gained about your tutee’s challenges, problems, test
scores, grades, etc., is strictly confidential.
• Be sensitive to the individual needs of your tutees.
Your tutee might be embarrassed to ask for help. Offering help in a patronizing or
condescending way can easily compound the feelings of inadequacy you are working
to help him or her overcome. Take some time to establish rapport; let the tutee know
you want to be there. Consider such factors as the instructor’s style of teaching, the
demands of the course; learn about your tutee’s special sensitivities and learning
styles as well as their particular interests and talents.
• Be informative without being intimidating.
Resentment closes down communication. Help the tutees understand what is expected
of them by themselves, by you, and by the instructor. Make them aware of the scope of
the subject to be covered as well as the requirements of individual assignments.
• Be positive.
Your tutees may have had little success in school and need a rewarding experience.
Focus on what the tutee is doing right. Help them recognize their strong points and
work with them to strengthen their areas of challenge. Be honest, direct, and tactful.
Praise and success are the best motivators.
• Encourage independence.
Do not become a crutch. Your tutees must be aware at all times that you are not going
to do their work. Let them know that they must put forth an effort in order to benefit
from tutoring. Insist that they do their assignments, study on their own, and do their
own thinking. In general, the less work you do for your tutee, the better. Although it is
quicker, easier, and less frustrating to do the work for him/her, it is of little permanent
help to the tutee. Help him or her learn how to do his or her own work. If you do
8. supply an answer, be sure that your tutee understands how you arrived at it and make
sure you check for retention and understanding of that concept later on in the session.
Try not to act annoyed with student’s progress or lack thereof. Focus on the learning
activity. Your annoyance may reinforce negative attitudes toward the course and their
general ability.
Be a “prober.”
Rather than feed the student answers, probe or prompt the student to remain in an
active role in the tutoring process. Engage him/her in a joint exploration of problems
and concerns. Verbalization builds self-confidence and enhances learning. The tutee
should be talking about 75% of your session. (You should be talking only about 25% of
the time.) Don’t turn your tutoring time into just another class lecture.
• Be flexible.
Remember that the style and content of the material to be learned should be adjusted to
the individual being tutored. Be resourceful and use initiative in devising or trying new
methods and approaches to learning the subject at hand.
• Encourage your tutees to focus on “learning how to learn.”
Try to get them to concentrate on developing mental processes and learning strategies
rather than on getting the “correct answers” and using rote memorization. Poor use
of time and lack of good study habits are major shortcomings. Help tutees to master
techniques that will help them to become efficient learners.
• Be a good listener.
Be aware of both verbal and non-verbal clues. Listen carefully to all of the messages
about their feelings, the progress being made, concerns with the subject matter and
course requirements. If you end up doing most of the talking at tutoring sessions,
something is wrong.
• Even if you disagree with the way the course is being taught, you are to
support the methods of the instructor.
REMEMBER: you are a tutor, not the professor. You are not responsible for teaching
or grading the course and must recognize and accept your limitations. Under no
circumstances should a tutor “degrade” a faculty member. It is imperative that you
maintain a “professional” attitude and behavior. If there is a major conflict, please
consult with the LC Director for support and guidance.
• Have confidence in yourself, but don’t be afraid to ask for help and
Don’t hesitate to say that you do not know an answer. Be willing to research the matter
and get back to your tutees at the next session. Your tutees will enjoy finding out that
you are human too!
9. Characteristics of Successful Tutors
Successful tutors:
• Have fun!
• Are on time and prepared.
• Are friendly and acknowledge students (by name if possible) when they arrive.
• Encourage the student to develop good examples/discover examples provided in the
• Let the tutee do the work.
• Ask leading questions to help students learn and understand the material.
• Are patient and provide appropriate “think” time.
• Provide encouragement.
• Are aware of their nonverbal communication.
• Check the tutee’s learning by having the student summarize information at the end of
the session.
• Are aware of and acknowledge cultural differences while treating tutees consistently
and with respect.
• Relate successful study strategies to the tutee.
• Use questioning rather than answering strategies.
• Pay attention and are sensitive to the self-esteem issues of each tutee.
• Are able to explain concepts from several different angles.
• Focus the session on the process of learning rather than on the correctness of the
• Rotate around the room spending time evenly with students.
• Conduct themselves in a professional manner.
• Provide a safe learning environment.
• Encourage students to fill out a tutoring evaluation form.
• Attend tutor training and “Hot Topic” meetings.
• Help to maintain the cleanliness of the center.
Successful tutors DO NOT:
• Teach magic tricks.
• Expect the student to hear and remember everything they’ve said.
• Say, “This is easy” or use any other phrase that might imply the student is not smart.
• Put down or criticize the student or their abilities.
10. • Solve the problem or give the answer. The student should be holding the pencil.
• Criticize a teacher or the assignment.
• Go too fast.
• Make off-color jokes or suggestive comments to students.
• Use profanity.
• Waste the student’s time talking about themselves.
• Over socialize with other tutors when not tutoring. When students think you’re busy
talking they’ll be discouraged from asking questions because they don’t want to
interrupt you.
Effective Tutoring Tips
Knowing something is one thing. Sharing it effectively is quite another. Being an effective
tutor means taking the time to understand the student you are working with. Here are
some questions to keep in mind before, during and after tutoring a student.
. What does this student already know?
2. What does he or she need to know?
3. What does he or she hope to learn?
4. How does the student feel about being tutored?
5. How does he or she feel about the subject in question?
6. How can I best meet the student’s needs without giving them the answers?
7. How can I conduct myself so that I may make the tutoring experience a positive
It is not necessary to ask these questions of the student. Just keep your eyes open, listen to
the person and you’ll have most of your answers.
Study Skills: Hints from Experienced Tutors
The techniques presented here hints to share with students to help them make connections
and study efficiently.
• Make flash cards to build vocabulary.
• Use mnemonics to help retain and recall information. For example, FOIL is a
mnemonic created to remember how to multiply two binomials; First, Outer, Inner,
• Look for patterns in formulas.
• Create a formula sheet and keep it handy.
• Use drawings to illustrate concepts rather than relying only on words.
• Make analogies to discuss how two concepts are similar to each other.
11. • Pay attention to words that are bold, underlined, or italics in the textbook.
• Use “practice” quizzes to help reinforce learning.
• Tutor other students in the class. The best way to learn something is to teach it to
someone else.
Tips for Group Tutoring
The Advantages of Group Tutoring
• Students benefit from helping each other.
• The group benefits from a diversity of ideas and points of view.
• It builds tolerance for differences in background, personality, and intellectual style.
Tips for Successful Group Tutoring
• Inclusive Seating.
Arrange seating in a circle to include everyone.
• Face the Blackboard.
When using the blackboard, be sure everyone can see.
• Students Explain.
Have students explain answers, concepts, and definition to each other.
• Equalize the Talk Time.
Make sure everyone in the group gets a chance to participate. Control vocal students by
ceding the floor to others. For example:
“We’ve heard your thoughts on the previous point, Shawn, let’s see if someone else
wants to suggest a different perspective.”
• Praise.
Praise students who come prepared to work.
• Encourage Participation.
Provide opportunities for quiet students to participate. For example:
“We haven’t heard from you in a while, Ralph. What do you think of Shawn’s
• Summarize Everyone’s Contribution.
Summarize the contributions of all students and integrate them into a whole. This
reinforces learning and helps all to see their contribution and feel included.
12. The 10 Steps of Tutoring
Greeting and Climate Setting
Greet the student by name.
Be warm and friendly, setting a positive tone with eye contact and a smile.
Arrange seating to facilitate interaction between you and the tutee.
Your goal is to set the session up for success.
Step 2: Identify the Task
• Encourage the tutee to initiate and identify the focus of the session.
• Follow up with questions to clarify the tutee’s main concerns.
• Restate what the tutee wishes to work on so that the purpose is clear.
By keeping the tutee involved in the organization of the session, they are in charge of the
learning that will take place. It also continues to foster their independence.
Step 3: Breaking the Task into Parts
• Provide an opportunity for the tutee to break the task into manageable pieces.
• Restate the steps the tutee suggests.
This approach reinforces the idea that the task requires distinct pieces to accomplish and
suggests there is a sequence to accomplishing them.
Step 4: Identify the Underlying Thought Processes
• Have the tutee clarify the problem solving approach learned in class.
• Help the tutee discover how to approach learning the type of task with which he/she is
having difficulties.
• Help the tutee understand/use information sources like textbooks, handouts, notes, etc.
This is a very important step in the tutoring process. It helps the tutee develop a learning
strategy for problems of this type and it gives them practice applying their strategy.
Step 5: Setting an Agenda
• Discuss with the tutee the amount of time necessary to complete each part of their task.
In a drop-in center the agenda is a flexible one since you must circulate around the room
helping all students. This step helps to keep the student on task while they are in the
Step 6: Addressing the Tasks
• Encourage the tutee to do most of the talking and writing.
• Use appropriate responses but do not interrupt the tutee’s thinking.
• Ask leading questions of the tutee and allow for sufficient response time.
13. It is at this step that you conduct the tutoring session and help the tutee learn the
information. Remember that you are not the sole source of information. The course
resources should also be utilized to help the tutee become proficient in using them.
Step 7: Tutee Summary of Content
• Give the tutee the opportunity to summarize what they just learned. (“Ok, let’s review.
What did we just do?”)
• Wait for the tutee to finish his or her explanation before you interrupt or correct them.
• Use this summary to determine if the tutee really understands what was just discussed.
• If necessary return to addressing the task to clarify any misconceptions.
Having the tutee summarize what they just learned allows them to convert the
information from short-term memory to long-term memory. Once in long-term memory
the tutee can begin to recall the information independent of tutoring.
Step 8: Tutee Summary of Underlying Thought Process
• Have the tutee summarize the process of addressing this type of task.
This step is the companion to step 4 and it’s necessary to have the tutee summarize the
thought process as they understand it. Often you must act to make this step happen.
Step 9: Confirmation and Feedback
• Confirm that the summaries of both content and thought process are correct.
• Offer positive reinforcement and confirm that the tutee understands or has improved.
This reassures the tutee that they can now do similar work independently and be
Step 10: Closing and Goodbye
• End session on a positive note.
• Thank the tutee for their specific contributions toward the success of the session.
Ending on a positive note encourages the tutee to continue to seek tutorial assistance.
This continued assistance will lead to the tutee’s academic independence, the ultimate
tutorial goal.
14. Asking the Right Questions
As a tutor, you must learn to ask effective questions throughout a tutoring session–the
more effective the questions, the better the response from the student. Here are several
ways questioning can be used during a tutoring session.
Ask questions to determine problem areas for the student.
The most frequent question in the tutor session is “What are you having problems
with?” This question is an important one; however, the problem comes from tutors
taking the student’s answers at face value or not examining the answer in detail. A
good tutor will want to know more, while one not versed in the importance of using
questions will plunge into an explanation without asking anything else. With more
questions, the tutor is able to give more specific help and better diagnose the student’s
Ask questions to determine what a student knows.
Too often a tutor will focus on what a student does not know. However, it is important
to evaluate what a student does know. A student’s knowledge will not only help the
tutor give more specific instruction and provide the student with some positive
reinforcement, but also provide a better starting point for instruction. This information
is especially true in subjective areas such as writing and interpretation. Always ask:
“What do you think and know about this?” “What are your ideas?” “Can you explain this
to me?”
Ask questions that help the student determine the right answer.
Generally, the student will always know more than he or she thinks, so it is often the
tutor’s job to show a student what he or she does know. If you are reviewing
problems with a student and the student is stumped for an answer, use questions to
show him or her how to solve the problem. Ask things such as “What is the first
step?” “How did we solve the other problem similar to this?” “At what point are you
getting stuck?” “What is the rule concerning this area?” The questions you ask will
vary from situation to situation, but well asked questions are often the key to helping
15. a student overcome anxiety and realize that he or she possesses the knowledge to
solve the problem.
Ask questions to see if the student can apply new skills.
A very effective teaching tool is to have the student teach you. After you teach the
student new skills, ask if he or she can explain to you how to solve the problem. Ask,
“What did you learn about this?” “Can you show me the steps to solve this problem?”
Try to get him or her to practice what they have learned and to apply it. This practice
reinforces the learning process for the student and allows both student and tutor
feedback on the effectiveness of the tutoring session.
Ask questions to clarify something that is not clear.
When teaching new skills, the tutor should stop and ask, “Do you understand this?” “Is
this part clear to you?” “Do you have any questions about this?” Often, students are
afraid to ask questions, even to a tutor, for fear of appearing incompetent. A tutor
should use questions like the ones above and positive reinforcement to teach the
student differently. Also, a student will often say he or she does not understand
something but not be specific. Use questions as stated above to determine exactly
where he or she loses understanding of the subject. Ask, “Do you understand this
part?” “How much of the problem can you solve” and continue until you reach the part
or step in the problem that he or she does not understand.
16. When asking questions, keep the following in mind:
1. Ask open-minded questions. Do not ask questions that require yes or no answers;
instead, ask questions that require elaboration.
2. Allow the student time to answer one question before moving on to the next.
bombard a student with several questions in a row without allowing him or her time to
answer. Also, do not rush a student’s answer. Give him or her time to analyze the
question and answer before moving on to another one. Some tutors will give hints if the
student does not answer in a reasonable time so as not to make the student embarrassed
by lack of knowledge.
3. Mix questioning with other tutoring methods. Asking questions is very important and
very effective, but a session with only questions can overwhelm a student and not allow
the tutor to give enough feedback or instruction. You must learn to ask the best
questions at the most appropriate times.
4. Make questions specific. Try to avoid general questions as much as possible. At times,
you must be general, such as when you ask, “What are you having problems with?”
However, always narrow the focus as much as possible once the general questions have
been asked. Specific questions will help a tutor pinpoint the student’s needs.
How to formulate good questions:
Questions should be posed that encourage thinking at each of the following levels of
learning. Often questions only stimulate thinking at the knowledge, comprehension or
application stages. To engage the tutee in active learning it is best to stimulate thinking at
all levels by varying the questions asked.
Level of Learning Type of Thinking Examples
Knowledge Remembering or identifying something Define…
(Remembering) without necessarily understanding it, using What is the sum of…?
it or changing it. How many are there?
Comprehension Demonstrating understanding of the In your own words…
(Understanding) concepts; transforming, reorganizing or Compare…
interpreting. What is the main idea of…?
Application Using a general concept to solve a specific Calculate the area of… Apply
(Applying) problem. the rule of…to solve…
Analysis Breaking a problem down into parts and Make a graph of…
(Analyzing) analyzing conclusions to see if they are Interpret the results…
supported by evidence. Does the answer seem reasonable?
Synthesis Original thinking, plan, proposal, design or How would you start?
(Creating) approach. How many ways can you…?
What would happen if…?
Evaluation Judging the value of ideas and offering Which method is the most effective?
(Evaluating) opinions. Is there a better solution?
17. Active Learning
Imagine a tutor is helping a student work a homework problem. What are the differences
between passive learning and active learning?
Passive Learning:
“Here, let me show you how to do that.”
Active Learning:
Tutor: “What section of the textbook discusses this?”
Passive is when...
• Tutor lectures or explains without engaging the student with questions.
• Tutor answers the student’s questions rather than asking the student to call upon prior
knowledge and skill to try to figure them out, or to consult the lecture notes, textbook, or
other reference materials.
• Tutor solves homework problems rather than asking the student to solve them.
Active is when ...
• The student does something to participate in learning to seek mastery of the material.
• Activities are structured so that the student is required to do the work.
• The student is engaged in the process summarizing the content he or she has learned.
Active learning has the following affects:
• It makes tutoring more interesting and fun.
• It fosters appreciation of learning.
• It helps students practice self expression, critical thinking, and self initiated inquiry.
How to Stimulate Active Learning While Tutoring
The Prompt Response Method
A prompt is a statement or a question that requests a response. Generally, tutors prompt
with a question and students respond.
The following scenario is an example of the Prompt-Response Method:
Tutor (prompt): “How do I find the horizontal intercepts?” Student
(response): “I plug zero in the y and solve for x.”
The tutor’s prompt is a leading question, a very common tutoring technique. This question
helped the tutor identify the information the student has already mastered. Tutor initiated
prompts should be questions designed to engage the student. See the ‘Asking the Right
Questions’ section of this manual for more information about effective questioning
Another example of using the Prompt-Response Method:
Student (prompt): “I don’t get the difference between a domain and range.”
Tutor (response): “What do you know about domain and range?”
18. The tutor did not answer the student’s question, but instead responded with another prompt
in the form of a question. Again the tutor offered a prompt to help clarify for both of them
the student’s level of knowledge.
Advantages of Tutor Prompt Student Respond
• Focuses attention on the topic keeps the session on track.
• Focuses attention on the student, not the tutor.
• The student is an active learner.
• Helps the student gain self confidence as a learner.
• The tutor can assess the student’s knowledge and understanding.
• Demonstrates an effective learning strategy that the student can apply independently.
Disadvantages of Tutor Prompt Student Respond
• Can turn into a frustrating guessing game (Guess what’s in my head?).
• Can become an interrogation (Since you don’t know A, then do you know B?).
• Can be frustrating for the tutor if the student doesn’t respond.
• Student may come to feel inadequate.
• Questions may seem like threats.
• Questions may be seen as prompts for thought and consideration rather than a response.
• Some students respond better to being shown what to know and then asked to repeat it.
• Sometimes it is more efficient to exchange information rather than prompt.
Common Prompts and Responses
Common Prompts Common Responses
A direct question: “What is a light year?” Answer a question: “A light year is the
distance traveled by light in a year.”
A fill-in question: “A light year is…”
Explain an answer:
Challenge with problems: “A star is -How we arrived at our answer.
1000 light years from earth. How far away
-The thought process underlying a process
is that in miles?”
or concept.
Be a devil’s advocate: “I don’t believe in
Summarize progress so far:
black holes. How do you know they actually
-The steps to arrive at an answer.
-The relationship of one concept to another.
Seek alternatives: “I’ve heard it said the
other way, how do you know this is right?”
-How the student is progressing.
Missing piece: “Light travels at 186,000 -How tutoring is progressing.
miles per second. Now, can you calculate a -How tutoring is structured.
light year?”
Brainstorm: “What else can we think of
to explain that?”
Tips for using the Prompt Response Method
1. Wait...be patient. Give the student time to think about and respond to a prompt.
Don’t rush to fill in the answer.
19. 2. Ask one question at a time. Don’t ask questions in rapid fire succession or it will seem
like an inquisition.
3. Use learning resources. Use the text, lecture notes, and other learning resources to
demonstrate where to find answer to questions. Don’t give message that the tutor is
the only source of information.
Active Listening Strategies
How to Listen so That you Really Hear
Good listening skills are one of the most vital qualities of a tutor. The better you listen, the
more you will understand. The more you show understanding, the more your tutee will talk.
For a tutoring session to be successful, a non-judgmental atmosphere is critical, as is your
ability to understand the other person’s point of view.
Active Listening intentionally focuses on the speaker in order to understand what he or
she is really saying. Active listening is more than just hearing; it’s hearing with the focus
placed on what the speaker is saying and reserving your reply until comprehension is
complete. An active listener never interrupts the speaker and always listens to understand.
Once the speaker has finished, an active listener is able to paraphrase the speaker’s remarks
including both verbal and nonverbal cues.
Good summary phrases include:
“What you’re saying is…”
“It seems to me what your saying is…”
“You sound…”
“It sounds to me like…”
Empathy is imagining oneself in another person’s situation and experiencing that situation
from their point of view. You try to become the other person so you can understand the
reasons behind their feelings.
You communicate empathy with feedback: After listening to the other person, you “feed
back” a summary of what you heard, focusing on both the person’s emotions and the
reason(s) for them (“You feel this way because . . .”). For example,
Student: “I can’t believe I bombed that Chem exam. I studied and studied; I can’t
figure out why I can’t get it. I don’t want to blame the professor, but the
average was only 47; no one I talked to did OK either. I need to do well in
this class. I’m getting desperate.”
Tutor: Your distress is understandable. It’s really frustrating to work so hard and
not have things turn out and not know why.
The tutor’s response focused on the student’s emotions by using the words “distress” and
The Tutor did not:
judge - “You should have studied harder” negate - “Don’t
feel that way. It’s only one test.” sympathize - “Sometimes
professors can be such jerks” rescue - “It’s too bad. I’m sure
you’ll do better next time.” own - “It’s my fault for not
focusing on those problem sets.”
20. In summary, the process of actively listening and communicating empathy allows the tutee
to control the direction, pace and conclusion of the tutoring session. The tutee does most of
the work which better equips him or her to answer similar questions in the future.
Arkin, M. and Shollar, B. The Tutor Book, New York, Longman Inc., 1982.
Adapted from: http://www.ccsf.edu/Services/LAC/lern10/listening.html
Common Listening Challenges
1. Subject or speaker is uninteresting or boring.
• Active Listener – Listens closely for information that can be important and useful.
• Inactive Listener – Becomes distanced from the listening experience, loses focus,
daydreams, chats or sleeps.
2. Criticizing the speaker’s delivery.
• Active Listener – Pays attention to the content and reserves judgment until the talk is
• Inactive Listener – Criticizes the speaker’s voice or delivery and decides the speaker
won’t say anything important.
3. Disagreeing with the speaker’s message.
• Active Listener – Writes down what they disagree with for later discussion and
continues to listen.
• Inactive Listener – Becomes so involved with contradicting the speaker and stops
4. Listening only for facts.
• Active Listener – Listens for main ideas and themes and notes the facts that support
• Inactive Listener – Focuses only on facts and believes the rest of the speaker’s talk is
only opinion.
5. Trying to outline the talk.
• Active Listener – Listens for the main ideas and organizes them once the speaker has
• Inactive Listener – Loses main ideas and themes because time is spent trying to
organize and find a pattern.
6. Faking attention.
• Active Listener – Continually refocuses attention on the speaker knowing that
attention may sometimes wander.
• Inactive Listener – Is present in body but not mind.
7. Allowing distractions.
• Active Listener – Filters out distractions and concentrates on what’s being said.
• Inactive Listener – Uses distractions as an excuse to stop listening.
8. Evading or avoiding difficult material.
• Active Listener – Desires to learn something new and is not afraid of complicated
21. • Inactive Listener – Gives up when material is complicated and tunes out the speaker.
9. Letting emotion-laden words throw you off focus.
• Active Listener – Listens very carefully to understand the speaker’s point of view
before challenging what is said.
• Inactive Listener – Gets upset at words which trigger certain emotions and stops
Adapted from: http://www.ccsf.edu/Services/LAC/lern10/listening.html
Learning Styles
The different approaches people use to learn or study are called learning styles. Each of
us has a unique preference for how, when, where and with whom we’d like to learn or
study, and these preferences help to enhance our learning potential. Learning styles do
not reflect a person’s academic ability or achievements. Rather, the styles are a
combination of environmental, emotional, sociological, physical and psychological
factors that influence how a person receives, processes and stores new information.
Often times a person has more than one learning style or preference. Therefore, it is
good practice to present information in a variety of ways to help encourage the student
to be successful regardless of how information is presented. As a tutor, you must be
sensitive to the signals that indicate a student’s learning style.
Major Learning Styles
There are four main learning styles, Visual Learners, Auditory Learners, Read/Write
Learners and Tactile Learners, and their characteristics are given below. Tutoring
strategies are also provided to help you capitalize on the strengths of each style.
Visual Auditory Read/Write Tactile
If I see it, I know it! If I hear it, I know it! If I read it, I know it! If I do it, I know it!
· Prefers to get · Prefers to get information · Prefers to get information · Prefers to get
information by seeing · by listening from text information by touching ·
Likes looking at books, · Likes to tell jokes and · Likes reading and writing in Likes to work with hands
pictures, puzzles, etc. · stories all forms · Learns better when
Strong sense of color · · Remembers spoken · Likes lists, textbooks, physical activity is
Difficulty with spoken words, ideas, lyrics to handouts, etc. involved
Learning Style instruction · Trouble music · Emphasis placed on words · Difficulty sitting still
Signals following lectures · Difficulty following and the meanings of words · Not avid readers
· Misinterpretation of written instruction · · Difficulty with spoken
words Problems with writing instruction
22. · Graphics reinforce · Study by talking the · Write out words again and · Follow your finger as
learning information through with again you read
· Color coding to organize someone · Read notes (silently) over · Take frequent breaks
notes · Learn by participating in and over again while studying · Pace or
· Written instructions discussions · Summarize flowcharts or walk while reciting
Learning Tips · Recite out loud anything diagrams with words information on index
that needs to be cards
remembered · Tracing letters and
words to remember
· Give visual directions · Allow the student to · Utilize handouts · Use movement to help
and clues verbalize whenever · List steps used to arrive at reinforce the concept ·
· Use flashcards, maps, possible the conclusion Use manipulative
graphs, color coding · Talk through steps in tasks learning aids · Use role
and other visuals to · Reinforce all visual playing
Tutoring Tips increase understanding directions with verbal clues · Use the computer to
· Allow a lot of wait time for write drafts, etc.
Adapted from http://www.ccsf.edu/Services/LAC/lern10/newlearnsty.html
Adapted from http://www.vark-learn.com/english/index.asp
Factors that Influence Learning
Once a student has determined his or her learning style, it is important to consider the
factors that can influence their learning both positively and negatively. For most people four
or five of the following elements become extremely important as we attempt to learn new or
difficult information.
• Environmental Factors – sound, light, temperature, room design
• Emotional Factors – motivation, responsibility
• Sociological Factors – work individually, work with peers, work on a team
• Physical Factors – time, transportation, food intake
• Psychological Factors – right/left brain, impulsive/reflective
By paying attention to the elements that most affect a person’s learning you are being
attentive to their learning style.
It is important for tutors to have a fundamental understanding of each learning style. The
knowledge of your own learning style and the learning style of your tutee will help you:
• Determine why you tutor the way you do.
• Develop strategies to help tutor people with different learning styles.
• Recognize how you affect others and how they affect you.
• Recognize how your personality type affects your tutoring style.
• Provide the most productive tutoring environment possible.
23. Adapted from http://www.ccsf.edu/Services/LAC/lern10/newlearnsty.html
Adapted from http://www.vark-learn.com/english/index.asp
Tips for Working with ESL Students
Discuss the student’s goals with him/her before getting started.
Speak clearly, naturally and avoid using lots of slang.
Ask students to repeat what you have just said to show understanding.
• If a student has trouble understanding you, write down what you are saying. If you have
trouble understanding the student, ask him or her to write down what he/she is saying.
• Use lots of repetition.
• Put everything you study into context.
• Encourage each student to take an active part of the tutoring session; there should be
“equal time” for the student to talk or ask questions and it is sometimes easy to forget to
stop and wait for questions to be formulated. Sometimes you need to wait in silence
before a question gets asked. In some cultures a student does not ask questions.
• Thank the student for questions. Some students are deathly afraid to ask a question, so
praising a question is a good way to encourage more.
• Encourage students to make friends outside of class because this will improve their
• Don’t treat students like children. English language proficiency does not indicate
intelligence or ability level.
24. • Don’t try to change your students’ language patterns by teaching them Standard English.
Respect their oral speech habits and encourage them to add Standard English to their
everyday language patterns. ESL students may ask you to correct their speech when they
feel comfortable, but don’t assume this is the case unless asked.
• Use plenty of examples.
• Don’t act as if you understand the student if you don’t.
• Don’t speak too slowly; it might tend to raise your voice volume and/or to make your
speech unnatural. Although it might be hard to understand your normal speech pattern,
with practice the student will become familiar with it and in the long run, it will help
him/her understand other native English speakers. You can lengthen your speech and
insert more pauses; this might help a student understand more easily.
• Don’t be afraid to correct the student.
Techniques for Questioning ESL Students
Within the tutoring session, frequently check students’ comprehension to make sure they
really understand concepts. ESL students may nod their heads as though they understand
when they really don’t. Encourage participation and check comprehension in
nonthreatening ways, and provide cooperative experiences by using the following
Most Difficult: Wh- questions (Who, What, Where, When, Why, Which & How) “Why is
A more difficult?”
Easier: OR questions. “Which is more difficult, A or B?”
Easiest: YES / NO questions check comprehension, but do not rely on this strategy too
much. “Is this difficult for you?”
Begin with the most difficult question type. If these cannot be answered by the student, try a
less difficult level to help them understand what you’re asking; then work toward the more
difficult levels.
• Ask the students to give examples when explaining concepts.
• Ask students to become the tutor and explain the concept to you.
• Search for answers to questions with the students.
• Use restatement to clarify students’ responses; “I think you said . . .” • Admit it if
there is a communication problem; “I don’t understand.”
• Write down words the student does not know.
25. Compiled by Tracy Henniger-Chiang (1997), Director of Global Language Institute; UW-River Falls.
Students with Learning Disabilities
What do Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, Cher and Agatha Christie have in common with
the fastest growing group on college campuses today? They all have (had) learning
disabilities (LD). Nearly one of every ten students (10%) in post-secondary education has
this hidden disability. Some of these students were diagnosed when they were in
elementary or secondary school and have therefore learned strategies in special education
classes to increase their academic success. Others were not diagnosed until they reached
college. For both groups, college presents special demands that can intensify the learning
problems they have.
Definition of Learning Disabilities
Learning disabilities are not a visible disability like a physical impairment. Instead, they
affect how a student of average or above average intelligence processes--takes in, retains and
expresses--information. Like interference on the radio or a fuzzy TV picture, incoming or
outgoing information may become scrambled as it travels between the eye, ear or skin, and
the brain. This takes the form of a language-based and/or perceptual problem. Learning
disabilities affect students, in varying degrees, in the areas of reading, writing, spelling,
spoken language, mathematics, organization, time management and social interaction.
Learning disabilities are believed to be caused by neurological deficits that affect the way
students perceive, process, or express information. There is no clear list of symptoms that
present themselves in all students with learning disabilities; each student has a different
manifestation of their disability. As discussed above, by definition students with learning
26. disabilities have average to above average intelligence and experience significant
discrepancy between their intellectual aptitude and academic performance.
Students with learning disabilities have fluctuating abilities in different areas. They also
have good and bad days. Individuals with learning disabilities experience an uneven ability
to learn resulting in achievement in some areas being superior to that in others. A student
may have extreme difficulty organizing and writing a paper, yet he or she may excel at math.
Another student may spell at a third grade level and have a severe disability in the area of
spatial perceptions, which manifests itself as terrible clumsiness or carelessness with
handwriting, yet excel at giving speeches.
Because of the inconsistency associated with learning disabilities, it is easier to remember
what disabilities are not included. A learning disability does not include the following:
• Mental retardation
• Emotional disturbances
• Language deficiencies
A learning disability is inconsistent. It may present problems on Mondays, but not on
Tuesday. It may cause problems throughout grade school, seem to disappear during high
school, and then resurface again in college. It may manifest itself in only one special
academic area, such as math or foreign language.
A learning disability is frustrating. Persons with learning disabilities often have to deal not
only with functional limitations, but also with the frustration of having to “prove” that their
disabilities are real.
27. While the learning disabled population is a heterogeneous one, this definition illustrates
the problems shared by students with learning disabilities. The discrepancy between
ability to learn and actual achievement, experiencing repeated failures, and the need to
“prove” their disability, creates frustration and a lack of motivation in many students with
learning disabilities. Consequently, tutors must address both cognitive and motivational
issues when tutoring students with learning disabilities.
Many people are confused by the term “learning disability.” The following information may
clear up some of this confusion.
How is a learning disability defined?
A specific learning disability means a disorder in one or more of the basic psychological
processes involved in understanding or in using language, spoken or written which may
manifest itself in an imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, write, read, spell or to do
mathematical calculations.
Is a person who is diagnosed as being learning disabled considered mentally retarded?
NO, the problem is concerned with learning difficulties, not retardation, visual or hearing
impairments, cultural disadvantages or emotional disturbances. The learning disabled
person is of normal intelligence, but suffers from a severe discrepancy between
achievement and intellectual ability.
Can a learning disabled person be “cured”?
Learning disabilities is a lifelong disability. A person cannot be “cured” but can definitely
be taught to think differently and how to use a variety of academic strategies so that he or
she can succeed.
What do I do if I suspect the person I am tutoring is learning disabled or has been
identified as having a learning disability?
First, obtain information from the student directly on how they feel they learn best.
Second, change tutoring modalities, i.e., read aloud a passage to the student, rather than
have the student read silently.
Characteristics of College Students with Learning Disabilities
Each student with a learning disability is unique. There are about the same number of
types of learning disabilities as there are elements in a chemical chart. Compare the
number of different compounds and their unique characteristics to the combinations of
characteristics possible in a student with a learning disability. You cannot make
generalizations about someone just because they have a learning disability. On the
following page is a partial list of the characteristics of a college student with a learning
Oral Language Skills
• Inability to concentrate on and comprehend oral language
• Difficulty concentrating in lectures, especially two to three hour lectures
• Difficulty in orally expressing ideas which he/she seems to understand
• Written expression is better than oral expression
• Difficulty speaking grammatically correct English • Poor vocabulary; difficulty
with word retrieval
• Difficulty telling a story in proper sequence.
28. Mathematical Skills
Incomplete mastery of basic facts (i.e. mathematical tables.)
Reverse numbers (i.e. 123 to 231.)
Confuses operational symbols, especially + and x.
Difficulty aligning problems
Copies problems incorrectly from one line to another
• Difficulty recalling the sequence of operational processes
• Inability to understand and retain abstract concepts
• Difficulty reading and comprehending word problems
• Reasoning deficits
• Difficulty with concepts of time and money
• Poor strategies for monitoring errors.
Organizational and Study Skills
• Time Management Difficulties
• Difficulty scheduling time to complete short and long-term assignments
• Slow to start and complete tasks
• Repeated inability, on a day-to-day basis, to recall what has been taught
• Difficulty following oral and written instructions
• Lack of overall organization in written notes and compositions
• No system for organizing notes and other material
• Difficulty changing from one task to another
• Difficulty completing tests and in-class assignments without additional time •
Difficulty following directions, particularly written directions •
Inefficient use of library reference material.
Social Skills
Some adults with learning disabilities have social skills problems due to their inconsistent
perceptual abilities. For the same reason that a person with visual perceptual problems
may have trouble discriminating between the letters “b” and “d”, he/she may be unable to
detect the difference between a joking wink and a disgusted glance. People with auditory
perceptual problems might not notice the difference between sincere and sarcastic
comments, or be able to recognize other subtle changes in tone of voice. These difficulties
in interpreting nonverbal may cause them to have trouble meeting people, working
cooperatively with others and making friends.
29. Accommodations for Students with Learning Disabilities
Explain the problem step by step: Write down each step, using a colored pen to highlight
areas that the student does not know. For example use color to emphasize signs,
parentheses, or other symbols. Put one problem on a quarter sheet of paper or on a note
card. Encourage the student to write large so that they can see their errors. Put examples
in the same order each time. Draw a box around each problem you are tutoring. Define the
vocabulary for the student. Write down each term and draw a relationship to vocabulary
they already know. Have the student talk back the problem, not just answer that they
Show the student how to separate subjects. Encourage one three-ring notebook or folder
for each subject. Use dividers to separate book notes from class notes and from other
handouts. Sometimes color coding the folder with the textbook will help the student to stay
Time Management
Explain to the student that study time for them will be at least twice the number of clock
hours spent in the classroom. Ask to see their calendar to be sure that all assignments are
being written down. Also, explain the use of the syllabus. Encourage students to study in
small sessions, not more than one hour at a time. Note whether this is realistic for this
student. On their calendar have the student indicate exactly what they must do for each
subject (e.g., Read for English, review notes for Health, make flash cards for Psychology).
If the student does not have homework in a certain subject, encourage them to trade time.
Reinforce this in each tutoring session. Remind the student to make use of empty time
such as travel, walking, eating, or exercising.
Note Taking and Listening
It would help the student to sit in front of the class. Encourage the student to date notes,
use colored paper or pen, write on one side of the page, jot down main ideas, copy
everything from the board, color code notes (e.g., yellow for main idea, blue for details,
and pink for theories), and draw boxes around main idea. Explain how asking questions
in class can help focus attention and clarify information. If the student uses a note taker
use that person’s notes during the tutoring session. Have the student talk back the
information from class. You will have a better idea of what he does and does not know.
30. Students may need to be encouraged to take shorter classes or classes at the time of day
when they are the most alert. Sit so that the student can see your face. If you sit across
from the student be sure that the student is able to see materials completely, even if it
means making extra copies for yourself. Present the tutoring session in a multi-sensory
way. Use teaching aids to gain attention or use visuals, color coding, supplementary
materials, repetition, examples, pictures, graphs, charts, or small group interaction.
To help visual memory also use color, diagrams, cartoons, tactile association, visualization
techniques, mnemonics to help draw relationships. Use tests to illustrate information.
Organize information in clusters, or use association to increase memory. Write everything
down for this student. To help with auditory memory explain information in a step-by-step
format and encourage the student to use a tape recorder. Encourage the student to read or
talk information aloud and to tape record what needs to be remembered. Pronounce words
and define vocabulary.
Test Taking
Use old tests in tutoring sessions. Examine the wording of the test questions and use that
in tutoring. For example if the instructor uses lists, definitions, theories, graphs,
comparisons, illustrations, or descriptions in the test questions explain information in
these terms. Draw comparisons to students’ notes. If the instructor uses essay questions
have students write out answers for you or bring in old essays to show as examples.
Emphasize that students may dump information prior to a test. Encourage students to
answer easy questions first and as well as reading questions very carefully.
Tutoring college students requires a different approach and focus than tutoring elementary
or high school students. When tutoring in specific subject areas in college, it is vital to
work on developing conceptual think, not just mastering basic skills or memorizing facts.
College students need skills that will apply to the demands of the college curriculum which
emphasizes conceptual thinking rather than rote learning. This presents special challenges
when working with students with learning disabilities.
To assist students with learning disabilities become successful independent learners, tutors
should do the following:
• Understand the special needs of college students with a learning disability as they
attempt to handle their subject area course assignments.
• Provide opportunities for success so students with a learning disability are not
discouraged from learning content.
• Assist learning disabled students to understand the requirements and objectives of
the courses in which they are enrolled.
• Prepare structured lessons with each unit divided into small parts.
• Relate their tutoring to real life experiences.
• Assist students to understand and to recall subject matter information, and help
students develop ways to commit facts and information to memory.
• Assist students to establish study goals and specific objectives.
• Assist students to prioritize and schedule their assignments.
• Assist students to organize their study areas and materials.
31. • Assist students in learning and using effective study strategies.
Sources: Project T.A.P.E., College of Education, Northern Illinois University.
Bataglia, M., (1993), Master Tutor Handbook, Lakeland Student Support Service.
University System/UW-Madison McBurney Resource Center. Adelman & Oufs, ahssppe, 1986.
Adult Learners
Community colleges throughout the state have a large population of “adult learners.”
These are students who are not enrolling immediately after graduating high school.
Adult learners:
• pay careful attention to sequence of content and reinforcement;
• act with reflection or learn by doing;
• have respect for learners as subjects of their own learning;
• enjoy working in small groups;
• want to feel engaged in what they are learning;
• are creative and adaptable;
• are often apprehensive or anxious;
• learn unevenly;
• have outside responsibilities beyond school;
• view themselves as responsible, self-directed, and independent;
• prefer to make their own decisions;
• resent being treated like children;
• want practical lessons, satisfying personal goals;
• have varied life experiences; and • expect perfection from themselves.
Helping Adult Learners with Limited Basic Skills
In the interest of helping adult students reach their educational and professional goals, it
is best to address any limitations immediately. More often than not, such limitations are
not due to an inability to do the work; rather, they can occur from a variety of correctable
situations such as: the student has been away from studying for some time, the subject
was poorly introduced and disliked in elementary and/or secondary school, or the student
is in an environment that does not value good grammar or mathematical skills.
In some cases an adult learner simply has not been introduced to effective study habits and
now has to balance study with work and family. A bit of guidance will put students on the
right track.
The basic education skills of adult learners can often be improved by peer tutoring or
inclass study groups. Oftentimes peer tutors are able to reach the student on a different
level than the professional. Students proficient in writing or math make a more credible
source for them, because they are going to school also.
32. Adult Learning Pattern One
Adult learners tend to expect learning to be delivered in a traditional, teacher-led way, and
to expect the faculty member to do the “work” of the learning. The adult learner is there to
absorb the learning.
Now, this does NOT say that this is an effective way to teach adults. This is saying that
most of us, for years, have been taught via a certain method, namely, faculty-led
instruction. We have not been expected to be part of the hands-on learning process. This is
a pattern that is in the process of being broken down; however, we are talking about
breaking down a pattern that has been in existence for decades, even centuries. This
mindset is not going away easily, and to expect adult learners to automatically embrace a
brand new way of learning immediately, or without proper orientation, is expecting too
Adult Learning Pattern Two
Adult learners who tend to undertake a project on their own (as opposed to being assigned
the project) do so with the purpose of solving a problem, or applying the information right
away, as opposed to learning a new subject for the sake of learning it.
This may be a factor of our “hurry up” culture; our plates are full with home, work, and
family responsibilities. Any free time we have in our lives should be used as economically as
possible… and we can see how this carries over into adult education.
Adult Learning Pattern Three
Motivation for adult learners in education tends to come from a need to fill a professional
gap or a direction from superiors.
So, this pattern should come as no surprise, based on the fact that pattern two illustrates
the “practicality” mindset that adult learners have toward continuing education. This may
be dependent on where adult learners are in different professional stages of their lives,
though. The higher up the individual may be on the professional ladder, for instance, the
more likely the individual may wish to learn new subject matter for the sake of learning it.
Adult Learning Pattern Four
Adult learners tend to rely on colleagues or friends who may also be experts in their
professional field for advice when seeking advice on learning or embarking on a new
educational venture.
This has both positive and negative consequences: obviously, if we have colleagues who
share our learning interests and who have had positive experiences, we want to know more
about those experiences and apply that potential to our own lives. We trust and know these
individuals to help us make a significant decision that will impact our free time, finances,
and professional development.
On the other hand, reliance on opinions of others (and not doing the work of discovering
our own personal likes, dislikes, and preferences) instead of our own may result in
disappointment when the learning experience is not all what we expect it to be. A word to
the wise here would be to seek out opinions of others, but balance them with the knowledge
of our own preferences.
33. Adult Learning Pattern Five
Adult learners tend to appreciate – and continue learning – in courses where they feel they
have a significant contribution to make to the discussion, and that their contributions are
acknowledged and appreciated by the group as a whole.
Trends in Adult Learning
A variety of sources provide us with a body of fairly reliable knowledge about adult
learning. This knowledge might be divided into three basic divisions: things we know about
adult learners and their motivation, things we know about designing curriculum for adults,
and things we know about working with adults in the classroom.
• Adults seek out learning experiences in order to cope with specific life-changing events-
e.g., marriage, divorce, a new job, a promotion, being fired, retiring, losing a loved one,
moving to a new city.
• Adults who are motivated to seek out a learning experience do so primarily because they
have a use for the knowledge or skill being sought. Learning is a means to an end, not
an end in itself.
• Increasing or maintaining one’s sense of self-esteem and pleasure are strong secondary
motivators for engaging in learning experiences.
• Adults need to be able to integrate new ideas with what they already know if they are
going to keep - and use - the new information.
• Information that conflicts sharply with what is already held to be true, and thus forces a
re-evaluation of the old material, is integrated more slowly.
• Information that has little “conceptual overlap” with what is already known is acquired
• Adults tend to compensate for being slower in some psychomotor learning tasks by
being more accurate and making fewer trial-and-error ventures.
• Adults tend to take errors personally and are more likely to let them affect self-esteem.
Therefore, they tend to apply tried-and-true solutions and take fewer risks.
• Regardless of media, straightforward how-to is the preferred content orientation.
Adults cite a need for application and how-to information as the primary motivation for
beginning a learning project.
• The learning environment must be physically and psychologically comfortable; long
lectures, periods of interminable sitting and the absence of practice opportunities rate
high on the irritation scale.
• Adults have something real to lose in a classroom situation. Self-esteem and ego are on
the line when they are asked to risk trying a new behavior in front of peers and cohorts.
Bad experiences in traditional education, feelings on authority and the preoccupation
with events outside the classroom affect in-class experience.
• Adults bring a great deal of life experience into the classroom, an invaluable asset to be
acknowledged, tapped and used. Adults can learn well -and much - from dialogue with
respected peers.
• New knowledge has to be integrated with previous knowledge; students must actively
participate in the learning experience. The learner is dependent on the instructor for
confirming feedback on skill practice; the instructor is dependent on the learner for
feedback about curriculum and in-class performance.
34. • Integration of new knowledge and skill requires transition time and focused effort on
application. http://adulted.about.com/cs/learningtheory/a/lrng_patterns.htm