Questions and Listening

It is very important for the tutor to guide the tutee in doing most of the explaining. This will reinforce learning for the tutee and help the tutor identify problem areas.

Two of the key ingredients in guiding this successful interchange are: posing questions and active listening. Examples of questioning techniques follow:

  • Ask open-ended questions.
  • By posing questions that require more than a yes/no response, you encourage the tutee to start thinking.
    • "Where do you think we should start?"
    • "What are the steps involved in working this problem?"
    • "What is the definition?"
  • Ask probing questions.
  • Probing questions follow up on a student's contribution
    • "What will happen if what you said is true?"
    • "What made you think that?"
    • "What is the opposite of this position?"
    • "You're correct. The answer to this question is false. What would be needed to make it true?"
  • Rephrase questions or try repeating your question in a slightly different manner.
  • Break your original question into smaller parts.
  • Change the inflection in your voice when repeating the original question.

The next key is to listen to your tutee's responses.  By actively listening to your student you can learn a lot.  Is he/she grasping the concept?  Can he/she explain it easily or does it take some effort?  Is his/her body language saying anything?


**Adapted from:  Tutoring Techniques. 2002. Three Rivers Community College. 20 Feb. 2009