8 Tutor In Group Environments

When you are the tutor for a group, you will be a facilitator for the conversations that occur more than you are for your on-to-one tutoring. This means that you are encouraging discussion, guiding conversation, and directing the group members towards resources even more that you normally do. Respectful interactions are even more important in groups as there may be different individual and cultural interpretations of interactions when there are more people involved.

Some of the key skills for the tutor are:

  • Showing that each person is heard.
  • Ensuring that no group member is left out of the conversation.
  • Listening for common ground and identifying it to the group during the session.

Your ability to use deep questioning will be used at a high level in these situations. You will start by asking open-ended questions and avoiding the closed ones (e.g., yes/no, true/false, or multiple-choice). Also the questions need to be at the level of the learning task for the group and not at a lower level. You want to ask questions that require people to share some actual understanding of the subject at hand. Tutors can use deep questioning to:

  1. Probe tutee thinking which helps tutees begin to distinguish what they know or understand from what they do not know or understand.
  2. Foster tutees’ abilities to ask deep questions for themselves, so that they can use these tools in to question themselves and others. Tutors model the questioning strategies and the tutees follow and practise them to further their learning.

When you are in groups, it is key that you use questioning and encouragement so that everyone considers their answers individually before they share. Some tutees prefer not to speak out in groups, but you can ask them to write out their answers for you to review.

It also takes time for tutees to consider questions and develop their answers and since there are a number of students, the process generally takes longer than in smaller sessions. Having each group member describe their understanding of a concept of problem will uncover areas of confusion and help to build group knowledge and also supportive group cohesion. Often groups tutor sessions result in students connecting and continuing as study partners.

Because there will be different levels of understanding a skills in a group, resource referrals become even more important to ensure that no one is level behind. The tutor needs to capture and list for themselves any answers or questions that may needs such referrals so that they can do so at the end of the session. It may also be appropriate to have some group members schedule one-to-one sessions for follow up.

Group Tutoring Activity:

Take a session plan that you have used for one-to-one tutoring. Find a partner with a similar content. Co-develop your two plans to be used with a group tutoring situation. Identify approaches and questions that arise.

Notes and Questions:


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