Teaching @ Sydney

March 2013

New to tutoring? Some tips to help you survive your first tutorial

Before your first tutorial

  • Plan each tutorial and seek feedback from colleagues if you’re not sure about the timing or appropriateness of activities and topics. An important part of tutoring is ensuring that you use questions effectively – know the types of questions you will be asking, and what learning outcomes they will lead to. A resource that might be useful is asking questions to improve learning.
  • Don’t expect that every room in the University will have a similar layout or be equipped with the same resources. If you require a piece of equipment, like a computer, it may be wise to check the room prior to your first tutorial.

Surviving your first tutorial

  • Appear confident, enthusiastic, and committed to helping students learn. One way to begin a semester is to ask your students what they expect from tutorials. This is an opportunity for you to tailor future tutorials to your students’ abilities and interests, and to ensure they do not expect you to give them the answers to the final exam.
  • Be aware that various days and times of the week (and semester) can affect students’ engagement. Accept that there will be silences, and prepare accordingly. Allow students time to think about a question, or to note some points before you ask them to share with the group. If there is no response to a question, one strategy is to invite all students to stand and discuss their thoughts in pairs, and to sit down when they have an answer.
  • Check in at the end of tutorials – spend a few minutes asking students to write down what was the most useful aspect of the tutorial and what is still unclear.

A couple of handy guides are “Conducting tutorials” (Lublin & Sutherland, 2009) and “McKeachie's Teaching Tips” (McKeachie & Svinicki, 2006).

Learn more about University tutoring and teaching from the central program and Faculty programs.