The following identify difficult situations tutors may encounter and provide strategies for how to address these situations.


Blocking

Characterized by:

  • Low frustration tolerance
  • Immobilization/hopelessness/freezing up
  • “It’s beyond me.”  “I’ll never get it.”  “I’m stuck.”

How to Approach:

  • Determine what the student does know and discuss that; this shows the student that he/she has some understanding
  • Begin from what the student knows and build, in simple steps, toward increasingly complex material
  • Offer continual support
  • Reinforce success consistently

Confusion

Characterized by:

  • Bafflement/disorientation/disorganization
  • Helpless feeling about the course
  • “I just don’t know what to do.”  “I just don’t know what the instructor wants.” 

How to Approach:

  • Utilize the above approaches to blocking
  • Give structure and order to the student’s tutorial sessions, notes, etc.

Miracle-Seeking

Characterized by:

  • General interest or concern but with little specificity
  • Enthusiasm about being tutored but fairly passive in the tutoring session
  • High (often inappropriate) level of expectation
  • Evasion or inability to concentrate on concrete tasks

How to Approach:

  • Return focus again and again to particular task
  • Involve the student continually with questions
  • Explain the significance of active participation in the learning process

Resisting

Characterized by:

  • Variations of sullenness/hostility/passivity/boredom
  • Disinterest in class/work/tutor
  • Defensive posture toward class/work/tutor
  • Quick to anger

How to Approach:

  • Allow a small amount of time for the student to vent
  • Spend the first session on building your relationship
  • Be pragmatic yet understanding
  • Establish your credibility/indicate past successes in similar situations

Passivity

Characterized by:

  • Non-involvement/inattention
  • Boredom
  • Few questions/little discussion initiated

How to Approach:

  • Empathize
  • Attempt to build a relationship and mobilize the student
  • Utilize as many mobilizing techniques as possible – questions, problems
  • Reinforce all activities and successes

Evasion

Characterized by:

  • Manipulation
  • Verbal ability/glibness versus focused comments
  • Global/nonspecific praise of the tutor’s skill, course content, etc.

How to Approach:

  • Play down your role; emphasize the student’s involvement
  • Focus the student on specific tasks; continually involve him/her with questions
  • Ask, in a non-threatening way, why the student has come for the tutoring and what he/she expects from you

Source: Creighton EDGE/Creighton University

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