Is your student studying a new field? Is the student a beginner or a seasoned veteran? Has the student had a long break in his/her studies or other challenges in learning? What is he/she like as a learner?
The need for tutoring is different for each individual. Some need more support and guidance. Others act and learn independently. All this has an effect on what kind of instruction methods you should use as a tutor.
Tutoring a beginner – workplace tutor in the role of advisor
Regardless of age, everyone is a novice when beginning in a new field, workplace or work task. You can start tutoring a beginner by familiarising him/her with the practices and terms of your field and workplace. Early on, the student needs information, support and advice, and it is at this stage that the workplace tutor has the greatest significance as an advisor.
Acting as an advisor may mean explaining tasks carefully, giving step-by-step advice, acting as a model and an example and correcting errors. You should also encourage the beginner to assess him/herself and give constructive and corrective feedback.
Tutoring a developing student – workplace tutor in the role of trainer
The role of the workplace tutor changes as the skills of the student develop. When the student is at the stage where you can give him/her more responsibilities, your role becomes that of an equal trainer. In other words, you should give the student room to realise things him/herself. There will be less advising and guidance when you throw back the ball by asking, “How would you do this yourself?” Encourage the student and give constructive feedback. When the student gains confidence, he/she will manage difficult situations as well.
Tutoring a professional – workplace tutor in the role of mentor
It is often thought that a professional does not need tutoring or support. However, the development of oneself and one’s work never takes place in a vacuum; it takes place in discussions with others. You may also have exactly the kind of expertise the student is searching for. When you tutor a colleague who is already working as a professional or, for instance, your supervisor, your role is that of a mentor: by asking good questions, you support learning better than by giving clear answers. In tutoring discussions, you also help the colleague clarify his/her objectives and structure his/her working methods.
You can find good tips on acting as a mentor here: www.mentoripankki.recit.fi.