Ways Tutors Can Support Student Success

Contributed by:
Sharp Tutor
Ways Tutors Can Support Student Success reflects the innovative training, supervision, and assessment that tutor coordinators develop and lead in order for students at colleges to experience the six success factors.
1. SM
10 Ways Tutors Can
Support Student Success
Students participating in the Student Support (Re)defined study told us that
everyone on a college campus can play a role in their achievement—including
tutors. Tutors are uniquely positioned to help students experience the six success
factors identified by this research (see sidebar, Six Success Factors Defined).
Tutors are supportive as Whether “drop-in” or embedded in a course, tutoring strengthens student
role models. relationships and belonging on campus. Moreover, student tutors participating in
-Focus Group Participant
the study shared that tutoring others made them feel valued and connected.
The RP Group developed these suggestions for tutors and all peer educators in
partnership with Dr. Vandana Gavaskar, Director of Learning Support Services
at Santa Barbara City College and President of the Association of Colleges for
Tutoring and Learning Assistance (ACTLA).*
Six Success Ask students about their Get to know your students as
Factors Defined academic and career goals, learners (nurtured, engaged)
personal and family history, Ask students how they view their own
As part of Student Support and culture (directed, valued, abilities, interests, and educational
(Re)defined, the RP Group
reviewed leading studies on connected, nurtured) experiences to support them as unique
effective support practices and Talk to students about their major, the learners in a specific course and
interviewed both practitioners classes they like most, their personal discipline. Mentor students to minimize
and researchers to identify “six histories, and life experiences to the negative affective domains of
success factors” that contribute demonstrate caring and interest in learning that can cause extreme
to students’ achievement. We their future success. Many participants stress and hamper learning. Help
list them below in order of them identify times they have been
in Student Support (Re)defined—
importance according to those successful as a student and connect
participating in our research. specifically African-American/Black,
Latina/o/x, and first-generation those examples to their current work.
DIRECTED: Students have a students—indicated that being asked to
goal and know how to achieve it share their backgrounds and cultures
Demonstrate how to be a
increased their sense of belonging and
FOCUSED: Students stay on value to the college community.
successful college student
track—keeping their eyes on the (focused, nurtured, engaged)
prize Describe to students the importance
Share your own educational of taking ownership over their own
NURTURED: Students feel
somebody wants and helps them
path (directed, nurtured, learning. Talk about specific ways
to succeed connected, valued) you tackled obstacles during your
Describe why you chose to go to college community college journey and
ENGAGED: Students actively and pursue a specific major, and how changes you made to become more
participate in class and successful. For example, offer ways you
you are making decisions about your
extracurricular activities learned to take and organize notes for
education and career. Ask about their
academic and career choices. Sharing different disciplines and for varying
CONNECTED: Students feel purposes, the value of faculty office
like they are part of the college educational journeys past and present
community can help students understand the hours, and the importance of seeing
benefits of college, learn the processes a counselor regularly to stay on path.
VALUED: Students’ skills, for clarifying and setting goals, and Discuss how you balance school with
talents, abilities, and experiences relate their choices to yours. life, work, and family responsibilities;
are recognized; they have how to ask for help; how to prioritize
opportunities to contribute the workload of multiple courses;
on campus and feel their and how to manage stress related to
contributions are appreciated finances and/or relationships.
*This resource uses the term “tutor” to refer to all peer educators serving our students, including
supplemental instruction (SI) leaders and other learning assistance professionals.
2. I felt connected in the tutoring
center . . . because they made me
understand the content a lot better.
-Survey Participant Connect students with available resources
and help them understand how to
proactively navigate the college (directed,
Provide regular and meaningful tutoring engaged, connected)
activities that support students’ Share your wisdom about campus resources and
performance and progress (focused, facilitate student connections with supports such
engaged) as counseling, disability programs and services,
Expose students to a variety of approaches to health services, equity cohort programs, and student
learning and make learning strategies visible. For activities. Demystify policies and practices that can
example, use collaborative learning strategies to overwhelm students transitioning to college life and
help students gain a different perspective on course impact their progress toward their goals.
content, materials, and assignments and build their
confidence in their own abilities. Employ and call out
Actively recognize students’ potential for
activities designed to foster both habits of mind and
a growth mindset, building their capacity to tackle
learning (nurtured, valued)
future academic challenges. Help students develop Ask students to share how they are experiencing
metacognition about their own learning beyond a course activities, how they are approaching a
single assignment or a single course. particular problem and assignment, and what
strategies they find helpful in each tutoring and
learning activity. Use tutoring activities in different
Regularly check with students about their modalities (e.g., visual, audio, kinesthetic) to enhance
understanding of the course material and students’ understanding of what they are learning.
informally assess their learning (nurtured, Invite students to share their learning strategies as
engaged, valued) a way to empower independence and to help build
awareness and confidence in their learning abilities.
Since course delivery, lecture methods, group work,
and reading and writing assignments can vary from
course to course, gathering student perspectives Ask students for feedback about their
on disciplinary differences and teaching practices tutoring experience (engaged, valued)
can inform your own tutoring approach. Take the
pulse of their understanding to inform which specific To ensure students get the maximum benefit from
strategies you help them use to tackle reading, tutoring, provide them real-time and formal and
writing, and comprehension tasks for specific informal ways to share what works, what needs
disciplines and individual courses. improvement, and what may be missing. Provide
directed learning activities (DLAs) that help students
reflect on what they learned through their tutoring
Demonstrate the value of collaborative experience and what their next steps are. Use feedback
learning and developing peer support to improve learning and addressing concerns.
networks (nurtured, engaged, connected,
Support learning outside the classroom by helping
Note to Tutor Coordinators
students create peer networks and experience 10 Ways Tutors Can Support Student Success
the shared aspects of learning in a college reflects the innovative training, supervision,
environment. Demonstrate the value of learning and assessment that tutor coordinators develop
networks and provide additional resources for academic and lead in order for students at colleges to
support on campus. Engage students in collaborative experience the six success factors. Please refer
learning approaches and activities in each session, to the companion piece Tutor Coordinator
demonstrating that learning is contextual and social. Ask Context for 10 Ways Tutors Can Support Student
students how they will access collaborative learning and Success for more information found on the
establish peer networks in the future when they need Student Support (Re)defined Resources page
academic support again. under “Tools and Guides.”
For more information...
Visit www.rpgroup.org/student-support or www.actla.info
Contact [email protected] or [email protected]