Tutoring is probably one of the oldest teaching methods. In ancient Greece, in the time of Plato and Socrates, the children of the rich were educated individually or in small groups by teachers or tutors. During the Middle Ages, the children of nobles and the rich continued to receive their education as tutors. When there were more formalized educational institutions, teachers began to teach, but tutors continued to play an important role in the learning process. In the past, only wealthy students had tutors.
The dictionary defines the tutor as a person who gives individual instruction or in some cases to a small group. We would add that the purpose of tutoring is to help students help themselves, and to help or guide them to the point where they become independent learners and therefore no longer need a tutor.
If tutoring is carried out in the “right way”, the student will benefit greatly from it. Thesis tutoring offers a systematic and structured research experience in a more individualized way. It also improves the student’s self-esteem, their attitude towards the thesis and their academic performance, as well as their personal growth. In addition, tutoring is a self-directed and self-paced learning process.
What to expect from a thesis tutoring?
They will listen carefully as you describe the problem and they will guide you in understanding and solving the problem.
Ask questions that help you in the problem-solving process.
They will help you identify and correct recurring errors and they will guide you through all the steps of a process to solve the problem.
They will help you understand the ideas presented in your thesis and they will demonstrate similar processes and refer you to other sources.
The tutors hope that…
Come prepared with all the necessary materials (i.e. notes, bibliography, writing drafts, USB stick, calculator, etc.).
Be an active participant in the tutoring session.
Be as specific as possible about what you hope to achieve in the tutoring session. Ask questions and listen to suggestions.
Try to make the corrections on your own before taking them to the tutor for help; a tutor can’t do your job for you.
Schedule only one meeting that you know you can attend and be on time. Quickly notify your tutor if you are unable to attend.
Students can expect tutors to…
Be punctual, understanding and professional
Answer questions in the best possible way
Work “with you” but not “for you”
Learn about other resources available to help you
Set clear expectations about the session and encourage you to be an independent researcher
Offer a positive attitude and be respectful of your diverse perspectives and research style
Provide useful feedback and suggestions to help encourage independent research
What to Expect from Your First Tutoring Session
Your first tutoring session can make you a little nervous. Especially when it comes to an unfamiliar face and you don’t know what to expect. The best way to face the first meeting with your tutor is to remember that their role is to help you, not judge you. So what should we do?
Breaking the ice
During the first session, the tutor will introduce himself and ask you some questions about yourself. Their goal is to establish a friendly relationship so that you feel comfortable. He or she may ask you about your interests and how you feel about studies. You’ll want to know what subjects you’re struggling with and whether you have a study schedule.
The tutor also needs to know your knowledge and skills. He or she may ask you to do some tests and short activities to measure your understanding. This is not something you have to worry about. Your tutor just wants to have a realistic view of your strengths and weaknesses so they can design a thesis development program that suits you.
It’s important to have a quiet environment where you can talk to your tutor and focus without interruption. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. That’s what your tutor is for.
How to prepare
Students often wonder what they need to do to prepare for their first tutoring session. It’s not an exam and you don’t need to impress your tutor, so there’s nothing you have to do in preparation. It’s helpful to have the thesis bibliography handy to show you what you’re researching. Your main task for the first session is to present yourself rested and prepared to learn.
The next step
After your first session, your tutor will design a program for the development of your thesis that fits your needs. They may want to do more evaluations in the next session. If after the first session you have any problems or concerns, it is important that you raise them right away. A tutor is there to help you reach your potential by figuring out what your research and writing style is.
Tutoring is a valuable opportunity to gain individual attention and build confidence. Your first tutoring session is the beginning of an exciting journey that will end at the culmination of your career.
Don’t wait until the last minute to go
Be sure to allow enough time for follow-up appointments and freelance work before the deadline for corrections or the next chapter of your thesis. Tutoring is usually more effective if visits are repeated throughout the semester. Tutors are here to help you with strategies and guidance and you should look forward to continuing to study or work on your thesis after your session.
Decide what you want to work on
Clarify your goals before the appointment and bring a list of any questions or concerns you have. Knowing what you need helps tutors help you.
Bring the necessary materials to your appointment
Gather drafts, notes, bibliography, surveys, interviews, and any other material related to what you would like to work with the tutor. Coming prepared makes the tutoring session more productive.
You should be prepared to describe what you’ve been working on.
Your tutor will want to know what you’ve been doing and how you’ve approached your thesis. This helps your tutor get an idea of how they can best help you.
Being on time is a common courtesy and will ensure that you benefit from all the time of your appointment. If you do not arrive within 10 minutes of the scheduled time, you may miss your appointment and it will be marked as no-show.
Establish a personal relationship
A successful tutoring situation is one in which the tutor and the student have a great relationship. Since much of tutoring is relationship-based, having a positive first impression is essential to creating a successful tutoring situation. During the first tutoring session, the tutor will probably spend five to ten minutes getting to know you. Your tutor will ask you questions about their interests, what motivates or excites them, life in college or the books that interest them, etc.
Your tutor will spend a lot of time diagnosing the strengths and weaknesses of the thesis, as well as assessing your skills and understanding of the topic at hand. To facilitate this assessment, your tutor will ask you many questions.
They may seem like a lot of questions, but don’t be discouraged by them. Your tutor needs to have an overview of you, how you frame your strengths and weaknesses in the thesis in order to offer you personalized tutoring that responds to your needs and addresses the weak points specifically. By getting to know you personally and understanding your strengths and weaknesses, your tutor can assist you more effectively and can create chapter delivery plans that are highly structured and productive.
Check that things are going at the right speed
Hopefully, the tutor will spend some time discussing how to effectively approach a question or chapter you’re struggling with. The tutor will ask you questions about how you usually approach those questions or chapters and try to understand your thought process to determine where or what your weak point is. After learning about your thought process, the tutor will likely spend some time going over tips and strategies for understanding and solving or effectively completing a question or chapter.
It may seem like your tutor is giving you a sermon, but they’re actually reviewing the methodology and processing strategies you can use to “unpack” a question or chapter. Remember that your tutor’s job is not to solve all the questions and tasks with you. Your tutor is there to teach you the underlying concepts on how to process and solve a question or chapter. The ultimate goal is to teach these strategies to help foster a sense of confidence and independence when it comes to solving questions and completing tasks.
Perform “mini-tests” to ensure understanding
As we’ve mentioned before, your tutor’s goal isn’t to do the work for you. During the tutoring session, your tutor will go over some tips and strategies on how to answer a question or approach a chapter of the thesis. To confirm that you are assimilating and understanding the strategies and tips, your tutor will probably do “mini tests” in which you will show that you are using some of the strategies and tips that you have just reviewed. Although these “mini tests” may seem a bit heavy, in the long run they are beneficial, as they allow you to practice and feel comfortable using the new strategies.
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Rosas, A., Daniela Flores, Elizabeth Valarino (2006). Rol del thesis tutor: Competencias, conditions personal and functions. In: http://ve.scielo.org/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S1316-00872006000100007
Castelló, M., Anna Inesta et al (2012). Tutoring the end-of-studies dissertation: Helping psychology students find their academic voice when revising academic texts. In: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/228918574_Tutoring_the_end-of-studies_dissertation_Helping_psychology_students_find_their_academic_voice_when_revising_academic_texts
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