6 Evaluate Tutees’ Needs

In Level I, we looked at how we would begin to identify the goals that will be focused on in a tutoring session. We then identify these through several layers of questioning and introduced you to Bloom’s Taxonomy. You started your session by asking the tutee what they want to focus on, and allow them to be in charge of the session. This also included asking to see the assignment (or syllabus) from the instructor so that you could see what was required. If this did not clarify the task, you also asked to see the tutee’s discussion and lecture notes to get a better idea of the requirements of the course. You explained what was realistically possible in the time allotted for the session. At this point we are going to expand on this idea and start looking deeper into the tutee’s needs. Once the goals have been identified they must be monitored on an ongoing basis throughout the session.

Assessing Levels of Knowledge and Skills

Assessment used to identify learning gaps is called diagnostic assessment. As you develop as a tutor, you also need to develop your ability to quickly determine the level of knowledge and skills that your tutees possess. This allows you to fluently identify any academic gaps and to identify the next steps that they must take in their learning. The tutor may use any of the following techniques or develop ones for other subject areas to help assess the level of knowledge and skills that the tutee currently possesses and which relate to the tutee’s goals. Their goals aid the tutor in selecting the right activities to use in the tutoring session.


Technique Used

Reading The tutee reads a passage in the text to identify reading, fluency, comfort, and comprehension.
Language The tutee explains in their own words fact or points of information about a given topic.
Writing The tutee writes a short diagnostic piece related to the area and level that they are working on. This could be from a current assignment.
Accounting The tutee explains several accounting principles at or just prior to the area that they are working with.
Mathematics The tutee completes a math problem at the level they say they are comfortable with and then attempts one at the next level.
Science The tutee reviews the main concepts that are embedded in the area that they are working on.
Business The tutee describes the context for the case study that they are analyzing and compares this to the concepts previously used.

Adapted from: Handbook for Training Peer Tutors and Mentors (2012) CRLA.

Create Learning Tasks

The tutor’s work is to assess where the tutee is now and what information and tasks will help them to move forward with their learning. Learning tasks are the steps that are used to help the tutee move and help to ease anxiety they might have about the work. Identifying and using a learning task that allows the tutee to focus on the next step in the content that they are working to master helps them to progress, step-by-step, and not be overwhelmed by the subject.

You are guiding the tutee to become a more independent learner and the way you break things down will help them build their own framework for learning. When the tutee can easily set their own goals and tasks for learning, then they are well on the way to the self-efficacy that we identified in Level I.

Crafting a suitable learning task, means that the tutor must take the starting point – assessed highest level that the tutee can currently accomplish – and then determine what the next task might be. If the material is very technical, your task steps can follow the organization of the problem at hand. In writing it will follow the assignment. For case studies, you may start with the underlying principles. In all cases, identify what they can already do, then devise the next learning tasks.

Learning Task Activity:

Thinking about your subject area and the type of assessment you might use to identify the level that the tutee is at, create a session plan for a typical situation that you have encountered which will identify two learning tasks that you would assign the tutee to help them progress and your assessment.

1. Learning Objective – What the learner will be able to do upon mastery of this activity.


2. Anticipatory Set – Puts the tutee into a receptive frame of mind. Include what the learner already knows; review of other work that may relate to this new activity.


3. Input – Tutor presents new information, using specific materials related to objective and focusing on the necessary basic skills.


4. Modeling – Tutor shows the skill needed so that the tutee can then do it themselves. The tutee asks question and tries the skill.


5. Check for Understanding – Tutor checks that each step has been understood.


6. Guided Practise – Tutor provides opportunity to practise what has been presented. Effectiveness of the learning activity is evaluated and adjusted.


7. Closure – Tutor brings session to an appropriate conclusion with review and ensuring that the tutee has the main ideas.


8. Independent Practise – Tutor provides an activity to reinforce proficiency related to the stated objective.



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Level Two Peer Tutoring Fundamentals and Integration Workbook Copyright © 2019 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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