Key Points:

  • Ask the student what specifically he or she would like to be improved.
    • Use reflective listening to connect with your student.
  • Get to know the learning preferences of your student. Different people learn different.
  • Ask students to explain something back to you instead of asking if they understand.
  • Don't pretend to know answers. If you can't answer the question, discuss how you would go about finding the answer.
  • Allow awkward silences. Give the student all the time they need to answer the question.
  • Have the student help identify consistent errors they make.
  • Mix positive feedback in with negative feedback and vary your technique of positive reinforcement.
  • Emphasize the process of arriving at the answer over just the answer itself.
  • Be friendly and professional but do not exceed the boundaries of the tutoring relationship.
  • Be patient.



  • Identify learning problems in students
  • Provide a supportive environment for learning
  • Utilize best practices for tutoring techniques
  • Initiate additional resources for students with learning disabilities


Recommended Resources: 

Brief Review


Tutor Tip One. Tri-Ed Tutoring. 4 minutes.

Webinar 1: How to keep your student on track. Tri-Ed Tutoring. 19 minutes.

Webinar 2. How to teach your student to study. Tri-Ed Tutoring. 35 minutes.

Webinar 3: How to maintain a positive mentor relationship with your student. Tri-Ed Tutoring. 27 minutes.


Harris D. Being an Effective Tutor. MedEdPORTAL Publications; 2006. This is a booklet that identifies areas important to being a good tutor including Attitude, Medical Knowledge, Problem Based Learning and the Tutor, Professionalism, and Patient Awareness. It offers tutoring tips that include how to begin the first day in a group, establishing clear ground rules, group process, challenging scenarios, and frequently asked questions.

Jayakumar N, Albasha D, Annan D. One-to-one peer tutoring for failing medical students: A novel intervention. Med Teach. 2015 May;37(5):498. doi: 10.3109/0142159X.2014.956071. Epub 2014 Sep 3. PubMed PMID: 25181941.

Deketelaere A, Degryse J, De Munter A, De Leyn P. Twelve tips for successful e-tutoring using electronic portfolios. Med Teach. 2009 Jun;31(6):497-501. doi: 10.1080/01421590802572734. PubMed PMID: 19140059.

Meredith S, Greenberg L, Blatt B. Resource to Develop Medical Students into Peer Mentors. MedEdPORTAL Publications; 2014. Peer mentoring guide.


Tucker C, Gibbs K. The Medical Master Tutor Training. MedEdPORTAL Publications; 2012.

Bell M, Defilippo C, Miloslavsky E, Jahn A, Coplit L, Soriano R, McMillen E, Schussler E, Meah Y. Medical School Peer Tutoring Training Curricula. MedEdPORTAL Publications; 2010. Both included curricula aim to increase our tutors' awareness of (1) the common issues impeding students' learning, (2) ways to diagnose these learning issues, and (3) different teaching strategies that can be utilized depending on the specific issues facing the student. The senior tutor curriculum, in addition, discusses ways of giving feedback, and fleshes out the three aforementioned aims to a greater extent than the junior tutor curriculum. The strategies highlighted in both curricula are strategies that the students can use on their own, thereby increasing the students' repertoire of study techniques and facilitating independent study.


In-Depth Review


The Role of Metacognition in Effective Tutoring: Teaching Students HOW to Lean. Michigan Tutorial Association. 70 minutes.

Learning Effectiveness Program Tutor Training. University of Denver. 77 minutes.


Working One-to-One with Students: Supervising, Coaching, Mentoring, and Personal Tutoring (Key Guides for Effective Teaching in Higher Education) by Gina Wisker, Kate Exley, Maria Antoniou, Pauline Ridley. 2008. 224 pages. $36.36


Learning How to Learn: Powerful mental tools to help you master tough subjects. Coursera, University of California, San Diego.