10 ideas for better tutorials

Our guest today, Lilia Draganov, helps new tutors in the Faculty of Business and Economics to navigate their way through learning and teaching techniques. We asked Lilia to share some ideas on how to run effective tutorials.

 1. ideaBe enthusiastic and warm

Enthusiasm is contagious. Show excitement for your subject. Share a personal story how you struggled with some concepts or skills (related to your tutorials). It will reduce students’ anxiety, and help students see you as an approachable human being.

 2. idea Use name tags

You can get students make simple paper name-tags in their first tutorial. Collect the name tags and bring them to the next tutorial. Repeat as many times as needed to remember all students’ names (which could be the whole session)

 3. ideaMake eye contact 

Remember to circulate around the room as well, and don’t stay behind the lectern for too long.

 4. ideaDon’t ‘lecture’ – ask questions

Do not just present information, try to engage students in the discussion. Asking questions will stimulate students’ thinking. When you ask students a question or pose a problem, it turns them from passive listeners and observers into active participants. If they are reluctant to giving you an answer, ask them to share their answer with their colleague and ask them again later.

5. ideaIncrease your ‘wait time’

‘Wait time’ is how long a teacher waits for students’ responses before they ask another question or provide an answer. Research shows that simply increasing the wait time from 3-4 seconds (‘average’ wait time for most teachers) to 8-10 seconds can work wonders. More students tend to respond, and to give longer and more well thought-through answers.

 6. ideaPlan active tasks 

What are your students going to do during the class? Research also shows that students’ understanding tends to be 2-3 times better when they engage in active learning. Judge the effectiveness of your tutorials not by how much got covered, but how much students participated.

 ‘Active tasks’ = practical ideas:

  • Brainstorming
  • Solving challenges
  • Finding a solution
  • Discussing a problem with a partner
  • Explaining concepts or differences to each other
  • Generating pros and cons
  • Competing with other teams for best solutions
  • Writing short (2-3 sentence) summaries

Activities like these that make students ‘do-er’s rather than ‘listeners’ will transform your tutorials and students’ learning experiences.

 7. ideaKeep students busy 

Even when another group or student is ‘taking the stage’ (e.g. presenting), give other students clear roles. For instance you could ask the student ‘audience’ to write down two points of positive feedback and two suggestions.

 8. ideaThrow in something ‘unexpected’

Break a routine and throw in something unexpected. For example, make a mistake and get students to find/correct it. It will help to keep students interested.

 9. ideaDo a ‘wrap-up’

After each important ‘segment’, get students to ‘wrap-up’ by asking them to write three important things they’ve learnt in today’s tutorial and one thing they have a question about or ‘What did you learn today, and so what?’

 10. ideaAdvertise your next tutorial

As tutorial attendance tends to drop as the session progresses, advertise your next tutorial. “Next time, we’ll…” Give students something to look forward to.

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