Tutoring: An Opportunity to Motivate Students

Sep 30, 2011 by Paul Nicholas Category: Blog 0 comments Tags: news

There is no single magical formula for motivating students. Many factors contribute to student’s motivation to work and learn, including interest in the subject matter, perception of the topic or course’ usefulness, general desire to achieve, self-confidence and self-esteem, patience, and perseverance. In addition, not all students are motivated equally by similar values, desires, needs or wants. Some students will be motivated by the approval of others, while others are motivated by overcoming challenges.

Tutors play a key role in motivating their students. Through one-on-one instructional approach, tutors can encourage their students to become self-motivated independent learners by doing the following:

Giving consistent, frequent positive feedback that supports students’ beliefs that they can perform well in class as well as outside school

Ensuring opportunities for students’ success by assigning tasks that are neither too easy, but challenging enough to academically stimulate them

Helping students find personal meaning and value in the material. By constructively understanding the applications and usefulness of the material, task, or subject matter, students will gain a more personal sense of purpose for motivation.

Helping students feel that they are integral and valued members of a learning community who can contribute their ideas, thoughts, and beliefs.

An enthusiastic passionate tutor or instructor who has genuine interest in his or her students and what they learn will promote positive learning experience and have the opportunity to empower students to challenge themselves academically and socially.

Strategically, tutors can develop a “methodical” approach to motivate students and provide them the necessary skills, tools, and resources to be successful learners. I recommend capitalizing on the students’ existing needs. For instance, these needs may involve enhancing a specific set of skills, the need to overcome challenges in school or in the classroom, the need to become more competent, the need to perform successfully in class, or the need to feel more involved and interact with peers. Students learn most effectively when incentives for learning in a classroom satisfy their some personal motives.

Also, encourage students to be active participants in their own learning. Tutors can provide feedback to their students to learn most effectively through dynamic engagement, direct interactions with their peers, and by actually doing, making, writing, creating, and solving. Passivity diminishes students’ motivation and curiosity. Pose thought-provoking questions. Tutors should not explicitly tell students answers or directly respond to student inquiry capriciously. Rather, tutors should ask their students. Encourage students to suggest approaches to problems or provide more opportunities for students to apply what they learned.

Incorporating instructional behaviors to motivate students during tutoring session also enhances learning. Like teachers, tutors should hold high, but realistic expectations on their students. “Realistic” in this context means that your standards are high enough to motivate students to do their best work, but also recognizing that high expectations may inevitably be frustrating for students in trying to meet those expectations. To develop the drive to achieve, students need to genuinely believe that achievement is possible, which translates to providing early opportunities for success. Aside from setting expectations, tutors can help students set achievable goals for themselves. Encourage students to focus on their continued improvement, not just on their grades. Tutors can make an impact in student achievement by helping them evaluate their progress, or teaching them to evaluate their work and performance on their own. Help students analyze their strengths and provide assistance to tackle their academic challenges.

Furthermore, focus on skills enhancement, building confidence, and encourage the kind of learning you want students to achieve, not just on grades. Guide students to be critical thinkers, especially when preparing for tests or exams, rather than teaching them memorizing techniques (although in few instances, these tactics may be necessary). If a tutor stresses the synthesis and evaluation of information, students will certainly be motivated to practice those skills when they study. In addition, provide feedback as quickly and as often as possible. Give students direct support and indication of how well they have done and provide feedback for improvement. All in all, tutors have the opportunity to motivate, inspire, and empower their students, especially when providing individualized academic support and attention. They have greater impact to provide a mentorship-like relationship with their students and as such, this opportunity contributes to the success of students.

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