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TutorTIPs: EnTec

Tutor Training Intensive Programs

Effective Engineering & Technology Tutoring

Being their role model & guide

A tutor is not the same as a professor; many professors run on limited time and they have a schedule to follow through with for their courses, meaning the students cannot ask all the questions they want during class, or complete their assignments.

                This is where you, the tutor, comes in!

  • You are an example to the student; a role model they can follow
  • You have strategies to share with them on surviving their classes
  • Provide a fresh approach to answering their questions
  • More time to focus on the student
  • Create a learning environment that is easier for the student to engage in
  • Easier for you to see where the student might be stuck in, especially if it is a previously learned concept that needs to be revisited
  • Use the following resources to help students: http://libraryguides.mdc.edu/c.php?g=636897&p=5842895

Tutoring concepts, not answers

You should never just sit down with a student, show them the answer to a problem, and end the session. What if even more problems like that show up? You aren’t going to be there on exam day either.

The tutor is there to help the student learn and eventually become self-sufficient. Problems that were once difficult for your students eventually become simpler where they remember steps, not answers.

The case of the specific questions

You might feel like for some classes, you can’t really help tutor concepts for students, such as CGS1060 when they ask you about a specific step in their project. But there is more to that than just pointing out where a tool is in such cases.

Take the opportunity to teach students strategies! For you it may be as simple as memorization but put yourself in their shoes! What if you had no idea what tabs were, or that you could hover your mouse over a tool to see what it does?

             Giving your students such tips and tricks are extremely helpful, especially when they have to take their exams.

Next time you are tutoring for something that seems simple to you, think about showing the student what you would do if:

  • I forgot where the ____ tool is located!
  • I don’t remember what tool can help me complete this task/step
  • I don’t know what tools I need to learn before attempting this project

Emphasis on Algorithms and Problem Solving

One of the hardest parts of EnTec related courses is not coding or completing problems but brainstorming different solutions and finding the most efficient way to complete a task/assignment.

Teaching students early on to create such algorithms and develop their problem-solving skills is very important and can be implemented into your tutoring session by no one else but the tutor themselves.

Have interactive sessions, not a classroom lecture

The student just got out of a classroom lecture. Do they really want to go into a second one that may leave them even more confused or have the same question they came in with? Don’t just start lecturing:

Use whiteboards

You have tools to help the student learn. Grab a whiteboard or somewhere you and your student can work together to have an interactive session.

Switch the roles to help the student understand

Want to check if your student understands what you just taught? Give them the whiteboard and have them teach you instead! If they can explain the concept, they have a pretty good understanding of it.

Adapt to the student’s strengths and their learning type

Not every student can be tutored the same way. Each person that walks in will have two different qualities:

  1. Their own way of learning
  2. Their own way of thinking

This leads to the next section: Examples of some students you may encounter and examples on how to tutor them.

Tutoring different types of students

Get use to them and develop your own way of tutoring them efficiently. Identify their strengths to help them overcome their weaknesses. Of course, this doesn’t mean this will apply to all students! Just adapt to who you are working with.

The Visualizer

Uses a lot of drawings and illustrations to understand what is going on

Probably enjoys algorithms and flowcharts

Too much writing will make it harder for them to understand concepts

Coding and syntax might be a bigger issue for them than the brainstorming

Suggestion: Use visuals to make connections between a programming language and the concept. If they have problems with syntax, write out the piece of code and show a visual of what that piece does.

The Lone Wolf

Enjoys working alone and often has some work done already when calling the tutor over

Reviews their own work to try and catch their own mistakes first

Might prefer one on one tutoring sessions instead of group sessions

Might not ask for help when needed

Suggestion: Don’t force this student to work with a group session you may have; they may feel uncomfortable. Go to the student and check in on them every now and then. Remind them you are available to them even if you have other students.

The Hands-On Learner

Likes attempting something to learn from it

Enjoys examples in order to try it themselves

Likes practice problems over other learning methods

Visuals, explanations, and text might not help this student learn as much

Regular lectures in classroom might have already made the student feel lost or confused

Suggestion: Have the student work with you during the session. Have them do something as much as possible, such as write on the whiteboard with you, or code an example you want to show them.

The “I’m going to code and test everything last” student

They have a lot of the work done already (even if it might not be correct)

Extremely difficult to find why the code is not working

Student might not even know where to look for their errors

Suggestion: Show the student how to comment out and test their code piece by piece. Show strategies for finding the issue and how to debug and common problems they might have.

The student whose code makes a doctor’s handwriting look fun to read

Code is too difficult to read and understand

Even the student might get confused as to what they did

At least they did something

Suggestion: Show the student how to organize their code and the general format for proper indentation, braces, etc. for future projects, and how to fix up their current one for readability.