Math and Science Tutoring Manual

The Learning Center at Signal Peak Campus

Temenoujka Fuller, Ph.D.

@Tutor Training



2007 - 2014


Level I: Becoming a Successful Math and Science Tutor

1.1 General Terms and Conditions

1.1.1  General Rules for Developing Learning Resources Example: Resources created by students: Learning Resources for Geometry Example: Resources created by students: Learning Resources - fall 2008

1.2 Simple Rules for New Tutors 

1.2.1 What if You Cannot Solve the Problem? 

1.3 Tutoring Strategies

1.3.1 Scaffolding

1.3.2 Socratic Questions

1.3.3 The Sequence of Tutoring Example on Using an Appropriate Sequencing + Scaffolding - Word Problem              

1.4 Programs and Services 

1.4.1 Open-Doors

1.4.2 Appointment

1.4.3  Study Group

1.4.4 Workshops Example: Long-Running Workshop:_ Artifacts 2005 Chemistry Tutorials : Example on Using Different Services

1.5 Overview of the Art of Tutoring          

Level II:  Becoming a Successful Math and Science Tutor

2.1 Adaptation                                                     

2.2 Knowledge Transformation 

2.2.1 Example on Using Knowledge Transformation - The concept of Units in Math and Chemistry                       

2.3 Learning Styles                            

2.4 Learning Orientations

2.4.1 Example on Using an Appropriate Sequencing + Scaffolding depending on student level of independence-  Linear Equation                    

2.5 Tutoring in the Flow                     

Level III: Becoming a Modern Math and Science Tutor

3.1 Computer-based Tutorials             

3.2 Helping with Online Tutoring

3.3 Applets and Simulations

3.4 Graphing Calculators                     

3.5 Record your work

3.6 Whole Brain Learning -Genes to Cognition

Part I: Becoming a Successful Math and Science Tutor

1.      General Rules for Developing Learning Resources

         Learning resources are an important bridge to learning independence. I believe that students should design learning resources to learn independently. The goal of tutoring is to lead students to the best learning methods. The first step of the learning process, is to guide student into the labyrinth of learning opportunities. By design and development of personal learning resources, you can engage the tutee to communicate about math and natural sciences. Gradually, the tutee will be able to develop learning resources with little or no help. Student's skill to design, develop, and manage appropriate learning resources is critical for independent and online learning. 

Some students are on their way to becoming independent math and science learners. Math and science tutors help these students who need to learn the art of learning by using different tutoring approaches. Depending on the student's level of knowledge and skills in the subject area, tutors provide direct or indirect instruction. The goal is internalization of knowledge, which will allow the student to use the knowledge in future tasks.

Math and science tutoring at Signal Peak Campus is organized to act in accordance with Central Arizona Community College Policy 403. Math and science tutors design activities to engage students in constructive dialog and active learning. Through modern learning services, math and science tutors create different opportunities for learning to address individually the entire domain of students' learning needs.

Math and science tutors build collaborative programs with math and science instructors to help students use advanced and emerging educational technologies as learning tools.  


           1.2    Some Simple Rules for New Tutors

Tutoring is an art, because we do not have a systematic theory of tutoring; at the same time tutoring is a science in constant development, because we are in a process of gathering information about learning.  Today, the general goal of math and science tutors is to promote active and independent learning, critical thinking, creativity, and scientific imagination.

Learning independence does not just happen; this is a learning behavior that needs to be developed and used. Tutoring is the most powerful and holistic approach to students’ learning. Tutors develop and design services to provide opportunities for diverse student to learn differently. The best learning services are often developed by long-term collaboration of math and science instructors and math and science tutors.

Each tutor brings to the tutoring session interpersonal and academic skills; however, it takes time to become a skillful tutor. Often, tutors work in a counter-intuitive direction, instead of making the academic work easy for students they challenge students to work independently. If you are a new tutor and this is your first day of service, you may want to know some safe procedures in order to have a successful first day of tutoring. Keep in mind that tutoring is an inquiry into a labyrinth of learning opportunities. Your goal as a tutor is to design opportunities for active learning.


General Guidelines for the First Day of Tutoring


Ask the student to open the textbook, classroom notes, personal notes, and the syllabus. Ask what part of the homework or assignment is ready or attempted.


If this is the first session for you with the student, negotiate mutual expectations. Let the student decide what he or she would like to accomplish. Listen without judgment. Think, but do not talk. Your goal is to maximize the learning effect of the session for the student. What action of the tutor will be the most successful?


Demonstrate enthusiasm, but be realistic and tactful. What portion of student expectations can be done, and what portion may be challenging? Stay open for any surprises. In the first few minutes of the tutoring session, you can build trust and hope for future success.


Design or help the student to construct appropriate activities/stimuli (questions, tables, graphs, concept maps, mind-maps, steps) for the student to tell you what he or she already knows or can construct with little or no help.


If you are asking small leading questions, give the student enough time for thinking. Do not worry if there is silence for few moments. Move from concrete examples to abstract generalizations with appropriate frequency depending on the student's speed of learning.


If the student is absolutely lost, draw a basic scaffold to help with the thinking process.


Work with enthusiasm and confidence. Be playful, alternate difficult and easy questions.


Let the student talk and think aloud. Listen and plan your next strategy.


If the student does not know how to start the task, brainstorm around the information given in the problem. Constantly ask questions about the concepts and procedures. If the student cannot answer conceptual questions, help the student to locate and record (save) appropriate resources.


In any tutoring session, your knowledge has a supportive role. You use your knowledge to design activities to bridge the gap between the assignment and student's present knowledge and skills.


Reflect on the student’s answer with a positive feedback. Do not judge, teach, or preach. Tutoring is an inquiry into the labyrinth of learning opportunities.


If, no matter how hard you are trying to promote active learning, the student does not participate in the session, do not discourage the student from working with you. First, try to explain one or two problems for the student; all tutors intuitively know in what cases they need to do a few problems for the student who is lost. The problem is that tutors do problems for students who would be able to solve the problem with some help. Tutors need to ask themselves a simple question: Can the student solve the problem with some hints or appropriate scaffolds? Working problems for student who can do the problems with constructive help is a demoralizing anti-tutoring tactic. There is a fine distinction between doing few problems to unlock the mental block, and doing problems for students because you can do the problems faster. After explaining one or two problems, ask the student to plan the rest of the session. For example, let the student do a similar problem on the board with help, then another one with no help. Your goal is to identify the student’s interpretation of the problem. There are different reasons for the student to be absolutely lost. Do help with one or two concepts or math procedures.  If the assignment is two big and the students’ needs many hours of help to do the assignment, the tutor needs to encourage a realistic plan for this tutoring session, followed by a long-term planning.


What if you cannot solve the problem?

 Sometimes, the tutor may not know how to solve the problem.  It happens to all of us. Here are some steps for working problems that you do not know how to solve.

Ø  Use solution manuals.

Ø  Use Internet to find some similar problems.

Ø  Ask other tutors.

Ø  Contact the Educational Support Specialist.

Ø  Call the instructor, and let the student know that you will figure out what he/she needs a little later.

Ø  Put a message in the Math and Science Tutor Line, and the Educational Support Specialist will answer all your questions.

Ø  Do not feel uncomfortable; students need to know that mathematics and sciences are difficult for all of us.

Your skills to assess student learning preferences will become better and better with practicing the art of tutoring. For now, you know that student participation in the tutoring session is an indication for the level of his readiness to work complex problems, and student's ability to work independently on the problem.


          General Tutoring Strategies

In this manual, we will work on five types of most general tutoring strategies: The definition of strategy is simple: planning how to accomplish a particular goal.

 The goal of tutoring is to help students become motivated, active, and successful learners. Tutoring strategies are directed towards designing opportunities for students to learn the art of learning. For the first day of your work as a tutor, you may want to know some very popular tutoring strategies:

1.      Scaffolding is a strategy for helping students who cannot work independently.  Students who are very dependent are the most difficult for tutoring. Although the dependent students are between 25 to 30% of all students that we tutor in the learning center, they will consume most of your time. 

Scaffolding, as a teaching strategy, originates from Lev Vygotsky’s socio-cultural theory and his concept of the Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD). The scaffolds facilitate student’s sequential learning by using the prior knowledge to understand new information. The goal of scaffolding is to provide opportunity for the student to work with existing knowledge and skills.  As a tutor, you use scaffolding for highly dependent students to guide them how to utilize their prior knowledge. The scaffold is a construction of new ideas, concepts, and properties, skills, carefully distributed through the session to help the student to learn and internalized. The tutor is guiding the student in the art of learning. Student's participation is mostly with uncovering old knowledge, using resources, and observing the application of procedures for solving problems, followed by example constructed by the tutor for the student. The tutor usually will solve a few problems with questions such as: "Do you understand …?" to make sure that the scaffold is appropriate for the student’s level of prior knowledge. Ask if a simple guiding table or picture, or similar problem with small numbers, for example, will be helpful. Remember that all information that a student may need to fill the scaffold should be in the textbook or students’ notes in clear and specific form. As a tutor, you may want to limit the time, the student will need some time-pressure. Wait and assist the first few minutes to make sure that the student works successfully.  Stay with the student, sit down and get ready to help as needed. Scaffolding is a part of tutoring cycle and works well with Socratic Questioning for students who need step-by-step guidelines.

2.      The Socratic Questions are small, fast, and clear questions that lead students to predefined solution. According to the taxonomy of Socratic questions designed by Richard Paul, the six categories build upon each other. One question's response will lead into another allowing the students to observe the thinking process as an active participant.

The six categories are given in Table 2.

Please, visit for more information about the taxonomy developed by Richard Paul. You may want to use only a few Socratic Questions at a time. This is difficult method and requires practicing and training.

Table 2

Questions of Clarification

Questions that Probe Assumptions

Questions that Probe Reasons and Evidence

Questions about Viewpoints or Perspectives

Questions that Probe Implications and Consequences

Questions about the Question

3.      Sequencing the concepts and properties in the problem followed by re-assembling the solution is often called Tutoring Cycle. There are many materials about the tutoring cycle readily available. The tutoring cycle developed by MacDonald has 12 steps and it is a great generalization of analysis and synthesis plus some ideas for disciplined thinking. The reality of tutoring is very far from this generalization. The student should be able decide on the number of steps he or she will need to understand the problem. The sequencing depends on student level of readiness - some student have a lot of knowledge, and others need step-by-step tutorials. Your goal is to find the unique frequency that corresponds to student ability at the moment.

All tutors are using different modifications of the tutoring cycle. Actually, there are many cycles in each real tutorial - tutoring is not a linear process.

This is one modification of mathematics or math-related science problems that I use most often.





Table 3


Tutoring Tips

1.    Read the problem with understanding

Ask the student to read aloud and explain the information for you. The student will heave to think for appropriate sequencing of the thought process.

2.    Record the information given in the problem.

Lead the student with appropriate questions to record the information in the problem. Even if the instructor is not asking the students to write down the information given in the problem, you should use this step as a scaffold.

3.   Select appropriate strategy.  For example: Present the information with a table or graph when appropriate

Make sure that the student understands the meaning of the word strategy. Help with a list of strategies. Suggest appropriate visual or tabular organization to see the relation between data.

4.  Summarize the information given in the problem and identify the type of the problem

Your goal of this step is to help with internalization of the information. Help the student to identify what is new knowledge and to find appropriate category for the data in the larger picture of his understanding of math.

5. Solve and make sure that the student has a meta-cognitive awareness about all concepts, principles, properties, procedures involved in this problem.

Let the student do the solution. Your goal is to celebrate the manifestation of learning. Be enthusiastic and positive. In this moment the student should extract the wisdom from the tutoring session.


Record and reflect on your work with this student.

Tutoring is an art; you need constant feedback and improvement.  By recording your work, later on you will be able to discuss with other tutors your concerns and accomplishments.

Do I do this? No, but I will one day.

Examples: Math


 1.4   Tutoring Programs and Services

To address different learning needs, tutors constantly design specialized services and programs. Some services, such as study groups and workshops, are in the form of pilot projects or in the phase of trial and errors (experimental phase). Therefore, study groups and workshops for now are mainly facilitated by the Educational Support Specialist. New students usually work in the open-door area and with appointments. In some cases, the new tutors may be asked to substitute in a study group, or even to conduct a workshop. Every new tutor needs to know all services available in The Learning Center.

 Open-door tutoring: The learning community may be described as a fluid and inter-disciplinary study group with open entry and exit. The learning community is changing with the time; students work together on different tasks, they share ideas, techniques, strategies for solving academic problems. Building a community of learners is the most important goal of the open door area.

New tutors work in the open-door area in one tutor – one student or one tutor – few students (two or three) sessions. The tutor in the open-door area does not know how much time he or she will have to work with a student or a group of students. It is a mutual responsibility of the tutor and the students to be ready to distribute the time for tutoring in few small sessions in case that other student/s needs help. The distribution of tutoring session between few students requires flexibility. Often, the tutor needs to ask questions and let the student read the information he/she needs to answer the question. The tutor helps the student to divide the entire material into as small parts as would be effective for particular learning purposes so that the student can master (one small part at the time.) The tutor encourages the student to summarize and assemble the parts in an easy to follow and understand solution. In this work, by uncovering the underpinning reasons the student will be able to transfer knowledge from one problem to more complex problems in the future.

In the open-door area, tutors need to work on details keeping the whole picture in mind, and to assist student with planning. To help with planning, use the tutoring cycle. Try to understand student’s reactions about the process, and to adjust the plan to student's personal speed of learning. If the student is ready to work on his/her own, complement the accomplishment. Engaging students in the learning process is not an always an easy task. Sometimes it takes a few sessions before the student is even comfortable enough to talk to you openly and trustfully.

Here are few simple steps for engaging students into the tutoring.

Ø     Help the student to take notes to ease the solution process and not to look constantly in the textbook.

Ø     Ask the student to prepare a list of appropriate strategies.

Ø     Recommend some helpful hand-outs, and let the student repeat a similar or even the same problem. The goal   is achieved when the student can do a problem without help.

Ø     Try to find the unique rhythm of student learning, and ask only questions that are not in dissonance with students’ level of understanding. For example, students who are sequential would prefer explanation with small questions integrated in the presentation of solution.

Ø     If the student is asking too many questions, try to reframe the questions so that he/she can answer those questions on her own.

Keep in mind that your goal is to find the set of questions that work, the method that engages, and the strategy that empowers students to continue with confidence on their own.

Ø    When the student has an appointment, the tutor will work 50 minutes with only one student. This form of tutoring may be similar to some tutoring sessions in the open-door area. One mistake that is normal for new tutors is to leave the student who can work independently in order to help someone else. This may be a good idea in some cases, but you need to have a clear agreement with the student that he/she does not need you for the moment. Although you are free for some time, the student may need your help later on. Keep an eye on the student with appointment, and be prepared to help. Your agreement is for 50 minutes. Do not set up a precedent by working with the student more than 50 minutes, if there are other students in the open-door area that may need your help. If the session was very hard, refresh yourself before helping the next student.

Ø    Study Groups: In some cases, the Educational Support Specialist may need your help with a study group. To facilitate a study group, prepare yourself in advance. Do not expect to improvise something; you will feel much more confident if you ask the Educational Support Specialist for clear instruction, such as what is the group like, what supplements are available, is there some written guidance.

Ø    Conceptual Workshops: If the Educational Support Specialist asks you to help with a conceptual workshop, feel free to consider your level of comfort. If you feel uncomfortable, it is in your and the student best interest to excuse yourself from this duty. Remember, that you are entitled to some formal and informal training for all unusual forms of tutoring.

Ø    Learning Workshops: If a well done PowerPoint presentation, Excel datasheet, or online recourses are available for a specific workshop, you may use them to help the student or students as needed. Again, as it is with conceptual workshops, feel free to avoid this service if you do not feel comfortable. Always ask permission to participate in a few workshops before you try to facilitate one. Learning workshops are difficult – they involve different theories of learning, psychology, learning styles, learning methods. Not all resources will appeal to your personal style; do practice prior to the session to make sure that you are comfortable with all hands-out and materials. It takes at least 10 hours to prepare the first workshop. Learn as much as you can, be honest and positive.

There are many reasons for developing and implementing different learning services. Tutors need to use different design for different learning purposes. In some cases, you may prefer to redirect the student from the open-door area other services, such as appointments, workshops, study groups, or online tutorials, for example:

Ø  A student in math 121 has trouble with the concept of adding and subtracting fractions with different denominators. If after 50 minutes session, the student still has problems, refer the student to Educational Support Specialist to schedule a special workshop on fractions.

Ø  If a student cannot read with understanding math or science textbook; please, refer the student to a workshop on mapping meaningful ideas or mind-mapping.

Ø  Some students like to work in small interactive groups with a regular appointment. At the beginning of the semester, explain to all students how to initiate a study group.

          Examples: Chemistry        


Overview of the Art and Science of Tutoring 

This section is a summary of all previous sections. Tutoring is an art; your imagination and creativity will guide you to create learning opportunities for the student to become independent. If the student is an independent learner, you can collaborate for academic excellence.

Greet the student with enthusiasm and interest. This is very important part of the tutoring cycle - you like what you are doing and the student will feel comfortable. Warm welcoming will make the tutoring session easier and pleasant for both of you. Do not hurry up to solve as many problems as you can - just remember that students learning is the only that matter.

You need to connect your session with the classroom lesson or online discussions; therefore, ask the student for the lesson and show personal interest about the concepts and principles. Remember, the resources that student brings to the tutoring session are a rough measure of student learning independence and an indication for you what tutoring method will be appropriate.    Try to assess student’s knowledge and skills (Table 1). Use all available resources to guide student's learning. Frequently ask the student to find a definition of a concept or math or science property/law in the textbook. Do not play the role of alive encyclopedia, this will be fast, but the student is using you for avoiding the proper learning process.

Make sure that you and the student understand the assignment. Ask the student to make sure that there are no overlooked details. Tutors often solve wrong problems with a lot of energy and enthusiasm, to find out that they are wasting the students’ time.               

Ask as many questions as it is appropriate to understand the assignment in terms of the specific learning needs of the student (Essential Questions in Table 5 or Socratic Questions in Table 2).

Try to understand what sequencing will work the best for the student. Help the student to see all elements of the sequence and to work on details, keeping in mind the entire problem (Table 3).

Ask for verbal definitions or explanation and move to formulas, tables, or graphs. For example, ask the student to explain to you with words the arithmetic property to continue with algebra. A “Verbal Arithmetic” guide is available in the Learning Center. 

Do not jump from problem to problem. Make sure that the wisdom from each problem is extracted, memorized, understood. Review all concepts, properties, and procedures moving from concrete to general ideas and vise versa. Experiment with different applications, interpretations, and conclusions as needed to summarize the underlying thought process. Ask the student to summarize what went well and what may be done differently during the next tutoring session.                

Honestly enjoy and praise each and every small progress of the student, no matter that there might be still a lot of work ahead. Help the student to plan his or hers future learning. Discuss different learning services provided in The Learning Center or Online. Help with online services or ask the Educational Support Specialist to help the student with online learning. 

Enjoy your tutoring mastery. After each session, you are becoming a more experienced and mature tutor. Record your personal progress as a tutor in your tutoring log. Share your concerns and accomplishments with other tutors.                 


Part II: Becoming a Successful Math and Science Tutor

An advanced tutor is a tutor who can see the problem from two points of view: the point of view of the instructor and the point of view of the student. A meta-tutor needs to be not only meta-cognitive learner but also meta-affective and meta- conative, in order to adjust to the complex learning needs of a diverse population.

2.1        Tutoring as Adaptation

In the fast changing classroom or online practices, the tutors need to constantly adapt their services to meet the needs of innovative instructors. In this part of Math and Science Tutoring Manual, you will find some instructional methods that require adaptive learning services. Remember that the work of the tutors is adaptive to the curriculum. 

 The tutoring help for each method depends on student learning needs. Tutors are contributing by helping students to get ready for different tasks. The help in constructivist mode is common and described in Part I of this manual. The discovery and PBL is used mostly in science classes and calculus. However, with new and reliable educational technologies, math and science tutors are trying to collaborate with math and science instructors to include a small lesson within the curriculum to help with tutor's goal to lead student to independence. This is very important mission and very successful. We need appropriate classroom method to teach students the art of learning successfully. 

The most commonly used method is called Social Constructivism. This method works well with all students no matter what is their level of learning independence.  All tutors use social constructivism. Tutors and student interpret information, negotiate meaning, and construct new knowledge, which is call social constructive method of learning new information.  All new tutors need to encourage the student to identify different elements of the problem, to plan with appropriate strategy to reassemble the parts into new form of knowledge with deeper understanding of how to work in similar or more complex cases. The Learning Center is a place in which we build communities of learners to construct new ideas and concept, to explore new opportunities for academic growth.  You may want to find more information about this instructional method. Usually, tutors use social constructivism even if they do not know what method has been used in the classroom. Social Constructivism is the best method for the goals of tutoring.

If the Instructor uses Discovery Method, the tutor needs to know how students learn through discovery. The Discovery Method Leads to a higher level of learning.  According to Millis and Cottell (1998) "This method is similar to the structured problem solving method except that students' teams are asked to find the information they need to solve the problem on their own without the benefit of a mini-lecture."  The advantage of discovery method for the goals of tutoring is that students develop higher level of independence and collaboration. To search the literature or Internet, students often distribute the task between the members of the group. Tutors use discovery for higher level math and science classes with Internet.

Attention: Do not use discovery if the Instructor does not have a task that requires this method.  Discovery tasks are open ended and long-term tasks. Please, contact Educational Support Specialist for assistant with tasks that require discovery.

If the Instructor Uses Inquiry Method: Another beneficial for tutoring purposes instructional method is the Inquiry Method. Inquiry means development of inquiry-skills and inquiry-state of mind. Through a process of inquiry, individuals not only solve problems; through inquiry students construct understanding. What does it mean for a student to understand? What evidence does the tutor consider to measure the level of understanding? What questions does the tutor ask to probe understanding? Table 4 is a brief description of evidence of student's understanding and questions (Essential or Socratic) to probe this evidence.

Table 4 (Wiggins and McTighe, 1998)

Phase of Understanding


Essential/Socratic Questions

The student can explain.

Why is that so? How would you explain this event? How does this work? What is implied? How can we prove it?

The student or group of student can interpret the task from different points of view.

What does it mean? Why does it matter? How does it relate to my learning and life? Does it make sense?

The student can apply the knowledge effectively in new situations. This means that the student is a masterful transforming learner.

How and where can I use this knowledge? What analogy with our previous study would work for this problem? How should be my thinking modified to meet the demands of this particular situation?

The student can think from different points of view and explain the event by changing the perspective.

From whose point of view? From which vantage point? What is assumed or tacit that needs to be made explicit and considered?

Ability to explain the problem to others (empathy)

How does it seem to you? What do they see that I don't? What does the teacher mean by saying…?


How can I work this problem? What are my blind spots? What am I prone to misunderstand? Is this my preferable learning style?

The information in table 5 is based on the textbook Understanding by Design by Wigging and McTighe. If a tutor is trying to apply the inquiry method of tutoring, the table has some important elements for consideration.  The most interesting types of task for inquiry are authentic and meaningful tasks. Inquiry is supported often by interdisciplinary instructional methods. Inquiry based learning is student-centered. It will become more and more popular with new educational technologies. The reason for the growing popularity of inquiry-based learning is that the inquiry is actually learning with depth and breath. There is a growing need of deep understanding and flexible learning.

Attention: Do not use full inquiry method if the Instructor does not have a task that requires this method. 

If the instructor uses Problem Based Learning, tutors collaborate. Problem Based Learning is a collaborative method for solving authentic, meaningful, and "messy" problems. The Educational Support Specialist works together with instructors to develop learning units embedded into the existing curriculum. The last 5 years, long-running workshops with PBL are common practice in the Learning Center. Problem based learning is designed to motivate students to become active and creative learners. New tutors may be asked to help students with "Taking Math and Science Notes with PowerPoint" or "My Database" projects developed for arithmetic and algebra.


2.2   Tutoring Strategy 2:  Use Knowledge Transformation to Discipline the Thought Process

The key element of tutoring is to help student to become transforming learners. The transformation of knowledge is a skill of using knowledge acquired in one task into different tasks or disciplines. This is a very skillful learning which leads to learning independence. If a student is a transforming learner, tutors will collaborate with the student towards academic excellence. Students able to transform information are fluent learners; they use information from different sources to construct new knowledge or to locate resources and to discover new ideas and concepts. Students who can transform information and knowledge are successful online learners. Unfortunately, students may be able to transform knowledge, but they still may be random and chaotic. Your goal as a tutor is to slow down the process of solving problems and to focus on consecutive details. If the student is not transforming, than the process of making connection, summarizing the thought process, and internalizing new fact in relation to old, is only one way to help students to learn the skill of transforming knowledge. Do not tell the student the information that he or she does not remember; remind the student where most likely he or she used the knowledge before, bring some old textbooks, ask supportive questions. For example: the units in Chemistry are supposed to be old knowledge from Arithmetic.


2.3    Tutoring Strategy 3: Use Student's Learning Styles to Promote Active Learning

The Learning Center has many materials on student learning styles (In year 2008 the Learning Styles theory was challenged by neuroscientiests.) Please, contact the Educational Support Specialist for more information on learning styles. Students have different preferable learning styles; however, all students have some capacity to explore something new and challenging that requires uncomfortable to them learning style. If the student is a transforming learner, he or she can use information presented in uncomfortable for his or her learning style and figuratively speaking, transforming students translate the information automatically in their learning style.  For example, a visual learner can picture the most complex text on a mental visual mind map. Often, visual students even do not know that they are doing just this - picturing the orally presented information. Advanced tutors support students with different learning styles with flexibility; they help students to learn the art of using information presented with one or the other style with fluency.

To promote active learning, the tutor needs to be able to identify the student's learning style. The interplay with different learning styles is an evidence for advanced tutoring. Challenging student with diverse information is one way for the student to learn the art of learning. Conforming students learning styles by preparing information in comfortable for them form is damaging - it creates a hidden form of co-dependence.


2.4    Tutoring Strategy 4: Use Student's Learning Orientations for Appropriate Sequencing          

              In contrast with learning styles, learning orientations are characteristic of students' preferences for learning management. Learning styles are connected with students' executive functions and predispositions. Learning Orientations reflect student feelings about learning and student impulsive, untrained actions about learning. Learning Orientations, according to Dr. M. Martinez, are four types: transforming, performing, conforming, and resistant. Tutors lead student to independence. We all know that there are academic achievements through conformism and academic achievements though independence. Often time math and science tutors will hear students saying: You make the problem so easy. This is the indication that your work is in the right track, but our goal is to teach student to work the problem without us. While making the material easy for student has some value as a first step of tutoring, it definitely means that the student is not trying to work the problem independently. Our goal is to teach students the art of learning how to solve math or science problems. The Educational Support Specialist can help you with learning orientations and learning styles. For the new tutors, the suggestion is to use different sequencing for different learning orientations as follow:

·         For conforming students, use Socratic Questioning (Table 2)

·         For performing students, use tutoring cycle

·         For transforming students, use Table 5

·         For resistant students, ask the Educational Support Specialist


2.5    Tutoring Strategy 5: Tutoring in the Flow or Learning

Tutoring in the flow means that the tutor designs activities to balance between academic challenges and student personal skills. If the problem is in the area of student ability, the student can work very hard task without feeling how the time is flying. What happened if the tutor asks the student to do problem which is above or below his or her personal skills? Table 5 presents different combinations of academic challenges and student's present knowledge. 

                                  Table 5


Student's personal learning skills

Challenges of the assessment

Low Skills  

Average Skills

High Level Skills

High Challenge


Anxiety (cell 11)

Arousal (cell 12)

Flow (cell 13)

Average Challenge


Worry (cell 21)

Equilibrium (cell 22)

Control (cell 23)

Low Challenge


Apathy (cell 31)

Boredom (cell 32)

Relaxation (cell 33)





Table 6 illustrates different combinations of student skills and the challenges. Each cell represents student feelings about mathematics. It is obvious that math and science tutors should not ignore students' feelings about learning. Frustration, anxiety, and apathy are not characteristic of the student; they are feelings caused by the lack of balance between students' skills and the demand of the task. If the tutor can help with balancing between skills and challenges posed by the assignment, the feelings will change. Ask the Educational Support Specialist for more information. Your strategy 4 is to balance the challenges with the skills of the students. 


Becoming a Successful Math and Science Tutor:  Level III

Use video-tutorial to work the concepts with the student.

In most Math classes, students study with MyLabsPlus. Help me solve this: You can provide as much tutoring with direct help from MyLabsPLus as the needs of the student call for. If the student needs help with the content or the procedures, computer-based tutorials have all lectures on video. You may encourage the student to see the video first and then to do the assignment. The most helpful method is to watch the video together with the student. It takes only a few minutes, but you can discuss the concept or the strategy, If a student insists that he or she needs to have some teaching of the lesson, work as a tutor - ask essential questions and let the student locate the information he or she needed to construct the answer. Do not lecture even if you can, this is not your job. Your job is to help the student learn how to locate and use resources, your goal is to trace the path to academic success. Ask questions on the new lesson and let the student discover the answer. Help the student to read the lesson by using a concept map or mind map. Brainstorm. If more than one student needs help with content, great; what an opportunity for you to use social learning, such as social constructivism or discovery, described in section 2.1 of this manual. Divide the material in chunks and let every student work one part at a time. Then conduct a Socratic Seminar with fast leading questions. This is your chance to work for understanding and not for assignments. When the students move to computers to try track-tutorials, ask the student to use his or her notes and help to locate the correct information. The tutorials in MyLabsPlus are easy for tutors. The developer has all the questions asked; the student needs to solve the problem by focusing on one step at a time. Although the tutorials are standardized and do not explain some details, they are very elegant and powerful. Sometimes there are problems with solutions; contact Educational Support Specialist or refer the student to his or her Instructor.

Quizzes and Exams: Helping with quizzes and exam is extremely unsafe; you may or may not have trouble later on for working hard in forbidden territory.  Some instructors use exams online as a form of learning with open textbooks and notes. Some instructors even require tutors to help with exams. Always pay attention whether you are helping with track-tutorial or exams. Do not forget that our work is confidential; you should never use student's name in conversation with other tutors and colleagues.

Online Tutorials: In some online classes, there are learning plans, learning strategies and tips for students. Use this opportunity as often as you can. For example, if the student needs to prepare index card for Anatomy and Physiology, use the blackboard resources suggested by the instructor.  Use examples online to help with organization of index cards. All tutorials online are our best resource. The more you help students with these resources, the more you will connect yourself with the best practitioners of our profession. 


3.2       Helping with Interactive Online Tutoring

Online tutoring is actually tutoring with a real person on the other side of the line. Online tutoring begins in any face-to-face session. Explain your tutee how to ask online: Example this YouTube tutorial will help your tutee with asking word problems online.

Online Math Help:

  1. To ask open questions online > open Blackboard > click on Ask a Tutor > Select your class > type your questions.

  2. If you prefer a private session with an online tutor, please, open Blackboard > click on Submit your Questions.

  3. Online resources are available to you via Blackboard 24/7.

  4. Our face-to-face tutors will be happy to assist you with online tutoring services.

  5. Blackboard Instant Messaging

   If the student needs to write a formula or equation, you need to use in Word:  

Ø     Insert >> Object >> Microsoft   Equation 3 

Ø      If the student does not have access to Word or wants to type directly into an email, the student may need to  use mathematical shorthand: y = x^5 + (3x)^2 + 5*sqrt(x) - 3*4

Use Technology

Ø     For example: the student need to graph y = .6x + 3.8.

Ø      Using Excel: Make a T-table:



.6x + 3.8



























         The visual representation is given in the following figure:



 3.3     Applets and Simulations

This is only one example of a very helpful applet::


There are great applets online. Help the student to locate and use applets with creativity and imagination.

3.4     Graphing Calculators   

A workshop on graphing calculators is available with appointments. Student need to schedule an appointment with the Educational Support Specialists.           

If you as a tutor need help with graphing calculators, you may take a class or use some resources available in the Learning Center. You may want to use some online tutorial available for free:

Example: Graph a function:



The experienced math and science tutors often practice different opportunities with calculators without students to make sure that they would be able to help as needed.

Graphing calculators are often used in Math 091 and upper classes. There are many opportunities in calculators that help students with the learning process, or, vice versa, “help” students to perform the task by short-cutting the learning process. The tutor needs to know the teacher's philosophy about graphing calculators. The choice for students to use or not calculators depends on the task.  If there is not specific instruction in the problem not to use calculators, most likely the problem can be supported with appropriate graphing tools.  Ask the students for more specific instruction about calculators. If you can, contact the Instructor for more information. Do not assume anything without checking if the assumption is correct. Students do not have time for tutors to experiment with calculators; however, if you have done something and do not remember the procedure, almost all students are sympathetic.


1.6   Record Your Work

Math and science tutors work as a team. Your experiences are important for all of us. We need to know your concerns and stories of success. Do record your work with the student. Get ready to answer different questions in Math and Science Tutor Line online meeting. Tutors meet online at least twice per semester to share their experiences, expectations, concerns, and success stories. Usually, math and science tutors are very busy; however, without putting the pieces of our work together we will work in dark. Please, stop and reflect on your tutoring style frequently. Discuss difficult problems with your colleges. The complexity of the tutoring job is huge; tutors are innovative teachers in the labyrinth of learning opportunities. Our goal is to teach the art of learning. The most powerful sources of knowledge for all tutors are other tutors' points of view and interpretations. By recording your work, you can reflect backwards with specific details and enhance your tutoring style.