Checklist of Tutoring Skills


  1. I show that I am interested in what the student is saying.
  2. I give my full attention to what the student is saying.
  3. I avoid interrupting, even for the purposes of clarification, until the student has finished speaking.
  4. I allow a period of calm silence after a student has apparently finished talking.
  5. I briefly paraphrase the student’s ideas in my own words.
  6. I encourage a student to answer their own questions, or at least to try to answer them.
  7. I ask questions in a manner that stimulates thinking and reveals a student’s strengths and weaknesses.


  1. I give short explanations with appropriate examples.
  2. In addition to giving my own examples, I ask students to provide examples after they have understood my explanation.
  3. Although I sometimes share my own experiences with the student, I am cautious about insisting on approaches based on my own experience.
  4. I try to find ways to measure the student’s grasp of a concept or skill rather than assuming the student’s level of understanding from their paper.
  5. I observe the student’s learning habits and structure my approach to the student’s needs.
  6. Whenever possible I model a useful behavior rather than give an explanation.
  7. I delay my correction of a “wrong answer” so that I can first question my own preconceptions.

In general

  1. I help the student identify problems in their writing rather than solving the problems myself.
  2. I help the student identify and understand the strengths in their writing rather than focusing entirely on the weaknesses.
  3. I periodically reflect on the work that the student has done during the session so that the student sees not just the final product but the process.
  4. I periodically check in with the student to make sure they are comfortable with the way the session is going.
  5. I try to make each tutoring session a joint effort with at least 50 percent of the work coming from the student.
  6. I try to make sure the student has as much or even more access to the paper we are discussing, and I avoid using a pen or pencil at any time.
  7. I find out what the student already knows, I discover what the student needs to know, and then I show the student how to learn what they need to know in a way that best suits their individual learning style.
  8. I try to concentrate on real learning and self-improvement, not just on earning better grades.

Based on a checklist by Thom Hawkins qtd. in Clark, Beverly Lyon. Talking About Writing: A Guide for Tutor and Teacher Conferences. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1985. 157-160.