12 Use Critical Questioning

Critical Thinking in Tutoring

Critical thinking is the process we use to reflect on, access and judge the assumptions underlying our own and others ideas and actions. This often includes “the thinker’s dispositions and orientations; a range of specific analytical, evaluative, and problem-solving skills; contextual influences; use of multiple perspectives; awareness of one’s own assumptions; capacities for metacognition; or a specific set of thinking processes or tasks” (Stassen, Herrington, Henderson, 2011).

Why Do Tutors need to be Critical Thinkers?

In courses with large amounts of content, there is a real risk that students memorize information without genuine comprehension. This surface learning often disappears soon after the test has been written. Application, analysis, evaluation, and creation are often referred to as higher level thinking or Critical Thinking. This type of thinking is the key to deep learning where you develop knowledge, skills, and an academic mindset so that you learn more efficiently. You will acquire and retain more academic knowledge and will be able to use the materials throughout your University and professional career.

How do Tutors Use Critical Thinking Skills?

A deep learning approach to tutoring includes:

  • Writing study questions;
  • Coaching the tutee to figure out the answers before looking them up;
  • Breaking down complex processes step-by-step;
  • Closing notes and answering questions to see how much is remembered.

Avoid thinking blockages by yourself and your tutee through:

  • Using facts not assumptions;
  • Accessing multiple points of view;
  • Interpreting information accurately to prevent conflicts;
  • Discussing issues with others;
  • Asking (and answering) questions!

Discuss Why Questions are used in Tutoring

When a tutor questions a tutee, they are doing so to find out the level of the tutee’s understanding and to identify the next learning goal that needs to be met. It is important for the Tutor to use the right questions to find out what the Tutee knows.

Although there are numerous ways to categorize learning, the taxonomy developed by Benjamin Bloom and colleagues (later revised by David Krathwohl and colleagues) for cognitive knowledge or domain is widely used in education. This cognitive taxonomy can help tutors with:

  • Setting learning objectives and goals
  • Selecting tutoring strategies
  • Formulating questions to use in tutoring sessions
  • Assessing if the learning goals have been met.

Notes and Questions:


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Level One Peer Tutoring Fundamentals and Integration Workbook Copyright © 2020 by Kwantlen Polytechnic University is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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