Active Listening

One of the most powerful tools you can use as a tutor is active listening. During a tutoring session it is important to comprehend the main points the writer is trying to convey. Following the direction of the paper should be the ultimate goal throughout the session, as you want to ensure that the writer is clearly and effectively fulfilling the requirements for the writing project.
                During all of my sessions I start out by reviewing the syllabus and the instructions for the writing assignment then I ask the student if he/she understands what is expected of them for the project, while they all mostly agree to understanding I usually don’t figure that out until we start diving into the writing. This is where the power of active listening comes into play, once you begin engaging with the writer you can discover what level of comprehension they have reached. By asking questions, engaging in conversations, and listening to not only just the writing but the way the student reads their work aloud, and the expressions their bodies make you can analyze the comfort they have with the assignment.  
                The back and forth conversation can give direct inferences to the student that you are paying attention and that you genuinely care about the topic on which they are writing about. Another powerful aspect of active listening is that it allows the tutor to have control over the session, you are able to direct which direction the session takes by asking the right questions. For example a closed question that can be answered in the most basic form of yes or no is not the type of questions you would want to address during a session. Open ended questions that require a thoughtful response are the key questions that will allow you to actively listen and be able to determine the student’s level of understanding.

                Active listening is a helpful tool that should be utilized not just in tutoring sessions but also in everyday life. I could argue that the power to understand another person is quite possibly the most fundamental part of learning. While, each person interprets things differently active listening allows us to break through the barrier of outside observation and inside reflection. 


  1. Destiny,

    I agree with you. Active listening is extremely important not only for working with students but in our daily communicaiton. In order to give useful feedback you have to deeply understand the student´s ideas, emotions, and their levels of comprehension. Paying attention to the student is just as important as the student paying attention to the tutor.

  2. I think it is highly important to reevaluate fundamental values of our personalities every now and then because important small tid-bits, such as active listening, can get lost in the mix. It seems almost common courtesy to always engage in active listening, but sadly it is not as often practiced as it should be! Great reminder for us all!

  3. There have been times when I bowled over a writer because my vision of their paper seems to be the goal rather than what they can and want to convey based on their experiences and voice. Active listening I think requires the tact to quiet down not only towards the writer but within myself and to recognize really that I am there to serve them in that respect.
    It's a good practice to look at the requirements of the assignment - it pulls both the tutor and the writer into the same objective thinking: does the paper do this or that, does the writing include this or that. I think a question about their general struggle is also worth asking early in the session. "What have you been asked to do?" (I think the way they answer this question cues you into what they do or do not comprehend about the assignment) "What have you been having problems with?" "How have you been working on the paper so far?" They can't answer in a general way, and what has been on their minds so far comes out fairly quickly that way.
    Thank you for the post!


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