Effective Math Tutoring
/ How Peer Tutoring Works / Tutor
Training / Students' Stories / Resources
Prepared / 5 Basic Steps
5 Tips / Overcoming
following tips are courtesy of Lower Columbia College's Tutor
Training Handbook, George Dennis, Supervisor.
Walking into a tutorial session prepared sends a clear, strong message to
the students of the importance and pride you as a tutor place on the
upcoming session. It is especially meaningful to follow up with the plan
of action, objectives, and goals set during the last tutorial
To do this, tutors model to the
student a commitment and enthusiasm by coming prepared. Coming prepared
Feeling comfortable with
Having a positive attitude
and utilizing all available resources. \
basic steps for assisting math students
Always look at the problem in the book. Never trust that a student has set
it up correctly.
Ask student to explain the procedure s/he is using to solve the
problem. You can troubleshoot and listen for erroneous logic or incorrect
procedures at that time.
Reinforce any correct procedures (e.g. "This part is done
correctly", or "You are target here".) Then identify
incorr4ect logic and ask the student to consider what else s/he might try.
You can provide a hint, but avoid explanations until after the student has
attempted a guess. (E.g. "When you evaluate an integral, what do you
evaluate first, the upper or lower part?")
To check for understanding have the student re-explain the procedure to
you. Avoid asking questions like, "Does that make sense to you?"
and "Do you under5stand now?"
Encourage the student to work the next problem on his/her own, but let
him/her know you will check back. Do not get drawn into working the
next problem with an insecure student. S/he needs to develop the
ability to apply what s/he is learning without your supervision.
tips for math tutors Up
A math tutor should guide a student through the solution process. Ask
the student leading questions that will direct the student towards the
Avoid doing problems for the student.
If the student cannot get the correct answer and asks for help, the
tutor should look at what the student has done and try to locate the
error. Then have the student work a similar problem to make sure
he/she has grasped the concept or procedure.
Tutoring goal should be to help
students become an independent learner. In mathematics, it is
important to teach concepts rather than just processes or
procedures. For example, the tutor should explain why it is
important to follow the "order of operations" rule, PEMDAS,
rather than just showing the student how to do it.
Understanding the concepts makes remembering the procedures
Students to Attend Class
Some students believe getting help from a tutor is a substitute
for attending class. Students having difficulty in math must realize
time spent with a tutor is additional to classroom time.
Tutors will deal with students with varying degrees of math anxiety.
Tutors should avoid using phrases such as, "this is
easy." Such phrases intimidate the student. If the student
suffers from a high degree of math anxiety it may be helpful to refer
the student to a counselor. Sometimes it is helpful to learn about the
student's math background. If the tutor believes the student is
enrolled in a course the tutee is not ready for, talk to the
Confuse the Student!
If the tutor is unsure of a mathematical procedure or concept, check
with a math instructor. It is helpful to find out what approach the
text or instructor is using on a particular problem. A tutor using the
same technique as the text or instructor will reinforce the concept or
procedure, whereas using a different approach can confuse the
Tutors are strongly encouraged to stay in touch with instructors of
the students they work with. Up
math and science anxiety
Many people believe
mathematics and sciences can be conquered only by certain kinds of people.
This myth destroys potential, provides excuses and limits our
possibilities. What is required is persistence and patience.
Learning Math and Science takes time and effort,
but it is worth the investment!
Five suggestions for overcoming
math/science anxiety include:
Do not confine yourself to exact
answers or processes. Most problems have more than one method for
reaching an answer. Sometimes it is easier to work from an answer to a
problem/question than vice-versa.
Do not use self-defeating talk. Use
constructive self-talk when referring to your abilities in mathematics
Do not run away from your intuition since
it could lead you towards a possible solution and understanding of the
concept and application.
Do not consider your questions dumb
or stupid when something is unclear or questionable.
Do not run away from math/science
frustrations. Try to keep a journal where you jot down strengths,
triumphs, areas to further address, and emotions about areas of
are strongly encouraged to stay in touch with instructors of the students
with whom they work... "
Guide the student
Teach concepts more than
Encourage students to
Address math anxiety
Don't confuse the student!