Department of Computer Science

College of Charleston


Ohio State University’s Computer and Information Systems department has developed the following guidelines for success when tutoring.


Tips on Becoming a Successful Tutor

Becoming a successful tutor takes patience, time, and practice, as well as communication with your tutee about what best helps him/her learn. Often, in order to improve a student’s abilities and understanding, you may not want to give direct answers to his/her questions.  Rather, it might be more effective to explore alternatives such as:

·         Engage the student in a series of simpler questions that eventually lead the student to an acceptable answer.

·         Pose a similar example and work through it with the student.  Follow this with another example for which the student does most of the work.  Finally, have the student solve the original problem by analogy with the examples. 

·         Go to the course notes and together read again the material from which an answer can be derived.

·         Have the student explain his or her answer to you as clearly as possible. Make sure that the student did not get the right answer for the “wrong” reasons and that the student understands the “right” reasons behind the solutions.

·         Tutors cannot debug students' programs but can show students how to debug. Tutors can provide general hints on debugging (error-finding and correction) strategies.


NEVER give students copies, hard or electronic, of homework, closed-lab, or lab solutions, or compose a solution for them.  This is considered to be academic misconduct.


Be sympathetic to the student’s possible concerns about the difficulty of the coursework. For example, you might say, “I remember this material, and it was hard for me the first time, too.” It is better not to say something like, “Actually, this is really easy; I’ll show you.” Whatever you think about the instructional materials that you are working with or the topics of the course, it is advisable not to say something like, “Yeah, I never understood why they tried to teach us this stuff, either.” Try to be positive!


In some sense, the ultimate goal of tutoring is to render the tutor dispensable—that is, to reach a point where the students being tutored can be successful on their own.  So, if one day a student says, "Thanks, but I don't need your help anymore," take this as an indication of success. (1)



What tutors can expect from student:

·         Student has read related material in text

·         Student has begun thinking of a solution and has written at a minimum the shell for the code along with jotting down ideas on how to proceed. 

·         Student will bring all course materials, text, notes and handouts, to the tutoring session, as the tutor may not have these materials.

·         Student should respect the lab environment.  Student should limit questions if other students are waiting for aid and should maintain a “library voice” as other students are studying in the labs.





(1) Tutor Guidelines.  Ohio State University Computer and Information Systems.  August 24, 2002 <>.


(2) When and How to Use a Tutor.  Austin Community College. August 24, 2002 <>.