Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Tutors - Part II

My last entry dealt with darker side of tutors, and today I want to spend a little more time talking about those tutors who ‘keep the fire burning’ and then highlight another contributor to the failing tutor system. First however, kudos for the true elite of the tutors (you know who you are, if you read my previous post with little or no guilt). You deserve a standing ovation. Its your attitude of going the extra mile, that makes tutoring a whole lot fun, challenging, exciting, and rewarding.

Ok.. enough of positive thoughts (for a really good article about positive psychology see
Dr. Deborah’s latest article). I however, would like to spend the rest of this post on making some damning comments about a bunch of students who … errr.. read on..

To start with, the tutor-student (or ‘tutee’) relationship in my university is an odd one. Tutorials on one hand are not compulsory, and are really an option that’s been in place to support students who need ‘extra’ attention. Having said that, its ironic how the “university of achievers” usually have their tutorial list filled up on the first day of posting. High demand signups are fine, but what about what happens after that?

I have this to say to those of you who sign up, and then show no interest in turning up for tutorials: why the f**k did you sign up in the first place? It is not only selfish of you (for filling up a spot that another more deserving and needy could take) but it is also disrespects your tutors time.

Having had that very cathartic moment, I would like to make the following *humble* requests from all students.

Respect your tutor's time. Remember, your tutor is a student too, and therefore has demands and deadlines of his or her own. You can show your respect by keeping appointments and by finding out what time is too late to call your tutor at night. No one wants to be woken up at 2AM even though you are staying up late to meet a deadline. For the very least, do atleast Turn up for tutorials. Theres no greater insult than being stood up.

Communicate! Let your tutor know about exam dates and other important deadlines so that the two of you can plan ahead if you need extra time. Also keep in mind that your tutor might like to know how your exam went. Related, your tutor would like to know if you understood what was said. If you don’t speak in English, then say so.

Come prepared. Though tutoring may be a more casual arrangement than meeting with your lecturer, the more you have studied beforehand and articulated your own questions, the more productive your session will be. Psychologists (and psychologists to be for that matter) don’t read minds, hence, adequate preparation will help.

Be specific. The more your tutor knows about your needs before the session begins, the better prepared he or she can be to help you. If you are stumped on a particular problem, for instance, why not e-mail it to your tutor before your meeting?

Don't expect perfection. Though peer tutors have excelled in the courses they tutor, they do not have all the answers. For that, there’s god (don’t know his/her email, sorry)

Be active. One of the most important ways to learn from your tutor is to be active during your tutoring meetings. Make sure you explain to your tutor, in your own words, the concepts that you have been reviewing together. Putting the material into your own words will help both of you to make sure that you have grasped it and can apply it.

I cant believe that I went though a whole page without using much profanity! What’s happening to me? (worried)


Aly Cat 121 said...

I like your blog. LOL. I so understand about tutors. I used to tutor 2nd/3rd graders (not to say it's the same as tutoring college students) but I can relate. Parents tend to be "forgetful" of time and not show up to appointments or you show up and the child is gone because no one told you that "billy" is at a friends house, etc.

Steph said...

Haha is that you or are you an imposter??? You didn't even spell the 'f***' word in full!

Anyways, reading this entry makes me feel guilty about my role as a tutee back then in college.

Don't remember that I was late but I obviously did not come fully prepared before consulting my tutor and am not active in participating tutoring meetings.

Haha,..I remembered being frustrated having a tutor who made me sit down to do my sums and memorized some basic stats formulas...but results from that, I had indeed a better understanding working with stats and scored better in my quizzes!

Thank goodness I didn't get tutors described in the previous post. This was the one and only student-tutor I had in college and was lucky to have one of the most dedicated:).

~Loraine~ said...

hahaha...i never had ever attended a tutorial before...i think i just never asked for their help cause i always thought as you said "just because they excelled in the subject, that doesn't mean they know evertyhing"...and you know wat...i always looked for god...i think He did a better job...;)...hehehe...but newayz, i should give credit to those tutors who actually attempt to give out thier help even though they are probably bitching behind their tutee's back, going " how can they be such dumb f***s?"...

astrorat said...

Dear Aly Cat,
i would think that sometimes college students compare to 2nd/3rd graders, in more ways than we think ;)
Thanks for your comments... i will make sure to read your blog too :)

Dear Steph,
You were a great student ;) i wonder if its DID! i guess you can say that i am getting used to blogging with less reliance on the f word! ;)

Dear Loraine,
Thanks for comments! What a shame that you had never had an opportunity to experience a tutor. And you are right, no ones really an expert, but we all know varying levels of information. As tutors, we try our very best to make sure that we help our students reach their potential. i am however glad that you did find your full potential somehow :)

I am however guessing (pretty sure) that the really good tutors never ridicule their students. They do treat our students with much respect, as their goal is not to make fun ;) I could however see why you would be suspicious of the tutors. While it may be true that there are a few who do engage in backbiting comments, it dosent apply to all :)

Anonymous said...

As a tutor, what I love/crave/appreciate the most from tutees is "communication". Your points under "Communicate" were spot on.

Tutees being active participants is also abso-fab - I can understand though the reluctance of some to speak up in front of others. That said, group-tutes are rather pointless if no one wants to speak up. Sometimes I feel bad for 'forcing' questions out of them, or if excitement beckons, fire them with one question after another, but it can be effective, and does help (occasionally) to get them saying what they want. Also, I've found that inserting an evil laugh occasionally helps lighten the mood too. And if all fails, it IS ok (ERB-Approved?) to roll up the notes and give them a good thwack, no?

Btw, am f***ing impressed with your language in this post. ;)

*grin, k.

mythsn_legends said...

I gotta agree that this entry doesn't sound like the usual you ;)

I haven't really had the tutor/tutee experience but now I know what to expect! This tutor/tutee relationship must be a two way thing for it to work ;)

Steph said...

Hmm speaking of communication..I must have failed in effective communcation with my tutees, either that, or they are not just as keen, or maybe the lecturer was too good that they didn't need a tutor, maybe it's gen.psyc...or's just me..

I remembered circulating emails to the list of tutees given on that night itself, asking if they were interested forming a weekly tutoring meetings/study group, and listed the free time I had for appointment/consultation. Only ONE out of the many, replied a feedback, asking help to facilitate with assignments and lectures. The others...they remain unknown to me...

So and again, that was the only tutoring class I had in college and although was interesting and I definitely learnt quite a bit on the marking system etc, ....the satisfaction of being able to share and exchange knowledge from tutees wasn't there...wonder if all gen.psyc tutors had this similar experience..

p/s: astrorat, thx :)and're a great tutor:)

Dr. Deborah Serani said...

Communication *is* so important. Your insights are so right on the mark!

Love the link to me...I was so surprised to come upon it as I read your post!


astrorat said...

Dear K,

I have not tried that ‘evil laugh’ trick my self! i should try it one of these days ;). you mean the "thwack" with rolled up notes is not approved yet ;) *grin* awww maaannnn...

Dear Mythsn_legends,
you are right, "Tutor-tutee" must be two way, just like any other successful communication!

Dear Steph,
I have heard from some junior tutors that the gen psych class tutorials are not essentially tutorials but rather a chance to do administrative work for the lecturer Dr. G! (i personally have not tutored that class). It is, I believe, a chance to learn to mark lab reports, quizzes, etc. Hence, I doubt that the shortcoming is a reflection of your tutoring ability. It is most likely due to the way the course is structured! 'presenting tutorials' is not encouraged by the administration for gen psych!
Thanks for the compliment Steph, i enjoyed having you in my research meth tutorials!

Dear Dr. D,
I enjoy reading your comments about positive psych! There is a lot of research that focuses on wrong, broken, ugly, dysfunctional, and disordered, that the other end of the scale is ignored! its about time that more attention if paid to positive thoughts! Yay for you! :)