Tips for Peer Tutoring – Part 1

Many students begin the new year and new semester with a resolution to earn better grades and cultivate better academic habits. “Study more!” “Go to the library!” “Take notes in class!” “Show up to class!”

One of my favorites is, “Get tutoring for my classes.” I’m biased, certainly. I think our peer tutors at Florida Tech’s Academic Support Center are amazing and I’ve seen many students benefit from a steady schedule of peer tutoring and bring their grades up from average to amazing. Unfortunately, I’ve seen just as many students approach tutoring as some bandage they can apply one time and expect outstanding results.

Here’s the secret: tutoring requires work on the part of two people, the student AND the peer tutor. Tutoring is a shared effort, where one person admits a lack of knowledge and a need for assistance and the other person recognizes the methods to assist in regaining that knowledge.

Students who use peer tutoring successfully realize that they need to prepare for tutoring sessions. They need to bring materials and expect to work alongside the peer tutor. Rather than arrive with the expectation to be taught, the student should arrive with the expectation to work and to ask for assistance in their effort.

Preparing for a tutoring session doesn’t involve bringing homework and having the peer tutor work alongside you. For many instructors, engaging in that sort of behavior can count as cheating, and that’s not something that any university student with an ounce of integrity should entertain. Instead, prepare for a tutoring session with one of these ideas:

  • Bring past quizzes or exams and rework missed problems with the assistance of a peer tutor
  • Review key concepts and examples from the previous day’s lecture
  • Work with the tutor to reorganize your notes from the previous lectures or reading assignments
  • Review for exams with study guides (but this only works if you do it more than once before the exam!)
  • Work up example problems before the tutoring session, and teach them to the peer tutor
  • Bring diagrams to relabel on one of the whiteboards or on a large piece of paper with colored pencils or markers
  • Have the peer tutor help you work with previously created flash cards for key concepts, facts, or vocabulary

Peer tutoring is a wonderful strategy that can assist students in setting strong positive academic habits. Getting the most from peer tutoring requires preparation prior to the session, so that you don’t waste your time as well as the time of your peer tutor. With a little bit of thought and planning, you can utilize peer tutoring sessions to provide the maximum benefit throughout your academic career.

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