Module 9: Group Tutoring

Even though group tutoring is less common in Learning Zone than individual tutoring, some courses work better with small group situations. Group tutoring is far more challenging; however, it can be very rewarding. The group setting, while manageable by a skilled tutor, is quite limiting in terms of the amount of individual attention which can be provided; this potential problem grows in relation to the size of the group being tutored. Some of the differences are outlined as follows:

Individual tutoring:

  • Time allows the individual student to ask many questions.
  • Student is instructed at his/her level and pace.
  • Student must actively participate in the session.Content is tailor-made to individual student needs.

Group Tutoring:

  • Time per student is restricted.
  • Multiple abilities and background of students complicate level and pace of instruction.
  • Non-participation by some students can occur.
  • Content covered must be suitable for the general needs of the group.

As you can see, individual tutoring has many natural benefits, while group tutoring requires a more conscious leadership role on the part of the tutor. The primary advantage of group tutoring (and disadvantage of individual tutoring) is the potential for the sharing of a variety of views and information. Groups also demonstrate cooperative attitudes and work skills in contrast to individual tutoring, which is more self-centered by nature. The following are some basic group tutoring guidelines that enhance group learning. Remember these guidelines (and skills) require conscious leadership on the tutor's part.

  • Keep in mind, as a group tutor, you are a resource for students and their learning. Your role is to facilitate their learning process.
  • Stand or sit where all can see and hear you. Arrange seating so it encourages interaction and visibility.
  • Waiting for students to volunteer a well-developed answer allows high-level thinking to take place. If you are uncomfortable waiting for 30 seconds, join students in looking through notes or text. If students are unable to answer the question, refer to the source of information.
  • Respect all questions or responses offered by students, no matter how basic.
  • Remember to use probing questions.
  • Don't allow individuals to dominate participation or discussion. Try to involve everyone in the learning activity; non-participants must be drawn into the activity.
  • Please don't interrupt students’ answers. Group tutors should provide a comfortable environment for practicing. To check for understanding, ask another student to describe the same concept in his or her own words.
  • Ask open-ended questions, and rephrase questions if they do not yield comments.
  • Remember to include humor in the group session.
  • Keep the session on topic and moving at the appropriate pace for the group's abilities.
  • Maintain productivity of the session by preventing irrelevant arguing or repetition.
  • As the session comes to a close, provide closure. You can do this by asking the students what they learned during the session, what they still need clarification on, or what they would like to cover in the next session. You might also ask them to come to the next session with a few predictions of test questions. Summarize the ideas presented in the session.

Tips on group tutoring

What you can do with a group