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tutor psyc 60, 100 and 102: julie weseman

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tutor psyc 60, 100 and 102: julie weseman

To the new Psychology Subject Tutor:

Congratulations on your employment! I am sure you will find that working as a tutor is a great experience. I have been a tutor for PSYC 60, PSYC 100, and PSYC 102. I would like to give you some advice about how to tutor psychology courses.

One of the biggest hurdles to get over in tutoring sessions is how you will use your time. Teaching psychology can be a lot different than teaching other subjects such as math or chemistry. You may run across some statistical equations if your students are working on research (such as in PSYC 100); however, most of the time, the information from the course will be more abstract. It is important that you put your preparation time into making the session well-structured so that you do not end up in a loop of asking the students, “So…do you have anymore questions? …Anything?” You only have an hour a week per group, so don’t want to use your time on awkward silences!

One of the things I began doing for PSYC 60 and for PSYC 102 was making outlines based on the textbook chapters. Students tend to have trouble putting in the time to do course readings. While it is easy to sit in lecture for a few hours each week, opening a textbook often leads to opening a laptop which leads to opening an internet browser which leads to opening Facebook/Tumblr/Reddit… You get the point. I found that the students are much more likely to complete the readings if you give them something else to complete as they read. This is easy for you to do as a tutor: look through the textbook for headings of the sections within the chapter. Use these to outline the chapter. Then, under each heading, write the vocabulary words that are in the section. And finally, if you have some extra time, write a couple of questions for the students to answer about the main points in each section.

This is a tool that students genuinely appreciate for their own use, and it is great for you because you can follow the chapter outline as an outline for the tutoring session (also, if you happen to tutor PSYC 60 with Per Gjerde, he relies heavily on the book for exam material!). As you go over the chapter, be sure to ask the students if they recall any of the material being covered in lecture. Material that overlaps in lecture and in the textbook is often very important for exams.

Another important thing has less to do with structure and more to do with how you can connect with students. In many cases, you will be tutoring a course that the same professor you had is teaching again. Students may ask you if you have had the same professor, and it is important to be honest about your experience. Of course, it would be unprofessional to slander and insult your professor, and it is against policy to share specific exam material with students. However, you can use your experience in order to reassure students that you were able to make it through the course in one piece (e.g. “Professor Gjerde can be difficult to understand sometimes, but if you go to his office hours, he speaks more slowly and can probably explain the concept in a different way.”).

Even though you may have done well in the course and had little trouble, do not assume that your tutoring students will have the same perception. As I said before, it is important to be honest about your experience. On the other hand, if your experience makes the course seem really easy, you might not want to go there! When a student enters tutoring, it is because they feel apprehensive about their performance. This is why it is vital that you create an environment where their concerns can be shared comfortably. Sometimes tutoring is not all about the material, but it can also be about how a student feels about his or her own capabilities. Try to be empathetic, encouraging, and relaxed. In turn, your student(s) will be able to ask you questions more easily.

I do hope you enjoy being employed as a subject tutor! I remember that I was incredibly nervous for my first tutoring session… In the end, it can be really fun to tutor your peers. Thanks for reading!

Good luck,

Julie Weseman

Subject Tutor for PSYC 60, PSYC 100, and PSYC 102

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