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Published October 26, 2009

Effective Tutoring and Student Success

In many colleges and universities, peer tutoring is a cornerstone of academic support services. It encourages students to support one other and to learn co-operatively under the guidance of trained students.

Due to a growing need for resources for successful tutoring, the John Abbott Leaning Center team, under the supervision of its chair, Brenda Rowe, initiated a training program designed to enhance peer tutoring at institutions across the college network.

Effective Tutoring home page

With the assistance of the CCDMD, a set of training materials such as trainer guides, video clips, homework assignments, in-class activities and handouts was created to teach prospective peer tutors the Foundations of effective tutoring and was put online on a website dedicated to the project. The content was put together (written and organized) by Jeannine Ryser (John Abbott) with the collaboration of Christian Corno (Marianopolis and Champlain Saint-Lambert) and Neil Briffett (John Abbott) as content advisors, and with the contribution of the various departments of John Abbott College.

Putting in place a structured program and therefore harmonizing the messages, techniques and knowledge being conveyed to the students being tutored was meant to ensure quality delivery of information to the benefit of both tutors and tutees.


The tutoring approach proposed is based on "student-centered" learning, in which tutees' ideas and questions form the basis for the tutorial. Consequently, skill development for prospective tutors focuses on areas such as listening, asking effective questions, adapting to diverse learning styles and empowering the tutee to learn more independently. The training is experientially based so that prospective tutors may be more engaged in the learning process.

Prior to Workshops section


Specific goals of the training include:

  1. Defining the role of the tutor
  2. Implementing an effective tutorial format
  3. Exploring and practicing effective tutoring techniques
  4. Enhancing communication skills
  5. Understanding differences related to multiple intelligences, learning disabilities and social group diversity
  6. Problem-solving
  7. Cultivating metacognition
  8. Maintaining academic integrity


Five modules, between two and three hours each, have been designed to help develop a solid set of skills for students to effectively tutor their peers. These include:

  • Module 1: Tutor Role, Tutorial Format and Tutoring Techniques
  • Module 2: Communication: Active Listening, Effective Feedback and Non-verbal Cues
  • Module 3: Understanding Differences: Multiple Intelligences and Their Applications; Learning Disabilities
  • Module 4: Understanding Differences: Social Group Memberships and Learning
  • Module 5: Metacognition; Plagiarism, Citations and Website Verification; Tutorial Evaluations; Training Workshop Evaluations

Balance feedback with the "sandwich-approach" video

Feedback - My Skill/Attitude Profile PDF document

Although the full five-module format is recommended, each module is designed to stand alone so as to allow the trainer to select the activities and materials that best meet particular training needs. Also, there are a variety of training options within each module to give the trainer multiple ways to enhance student learning depending on training requirements.

All of these materials are accessible to the public and available at no charge to any interested trainers and prospective tutors at Please share your views about the role of IT in peer tutoring with your colleagues below.

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