Tutor: Onboarding, Training, and Coaching

Quality Standards

Tutor Preservice Training: The program provides high-quality onboarding and training, tailored to program context.

Tutor Coaching and Feedback: The program provides ongoing support to tutors such as through coaching on the effective use of research-informed practices that foster academic success and overall student well-being.

Critical Questions
  • What expectations and processes will be set for tutors to ensure effectiveness and safety?
  • How will the program train, onboard and coach tutors? Including, how will the program train tutors in being culturally responsive and sustaining tutors?
  • How will the program empower tutors to understand the school and context where they will tutor?
  • What pre-existing instructional expertise can the program leverage from the HEI campus, particularly from an educator preparation program?
  • How can we best integrate the tutor’s experience into their college experience? 
  • How can career exploration be built into the tutor’s experience?
Implementation Checklist
  • Delineate training content based on Model Dimensions and selection criteria for tutors.
  • Consult with educator preparation program faculty and staff to build upon pre-existing knowledge and structures.
  • Determine whether students may receive course credit for participation in training, or if training may be embedded in existing educator preparation courses. See examples of a separate for-credit course from Peer Power and how to embed content into an educator preparation program from James Madison University and Deans for Impact.
  • Establish a clear structure for pre-service and in-service training, including frequency, format, facilitator, etc. that works within a higher education institution (HEI) student’s schedule.
  • Include training to empower tutors to understand the school and context where they will tutor. Topics may include information on how to get to the school and into the building, meeting the program leader at the school site, taking a tour of the school where they will tutor, information about the school's student population, and training on the school’s specific approach to education.
  • Include training to support culturally responsive-sustaining education. See the CRSE Facilitator Guide and the Annotation of CRSE Facilitator Guide specifically for HEI tutoring providers.
  • Provide safety training including health protocols, mandatory reporting laws, child abuse prevention, data privacy policies and practices, and security infrastructure.
  • Collect feedback from tutors on training and incorporate insights and lessons from feedback to improve training effectiveness (2-way feedback).
  • Where possible, track feedback on the program by race, gender, and socio-economic status, and then use this information to identify patterns and trends across groups and sub-populations.
  • Ensure in-service training is responsive to performance evaluations, stakeholder feedback, and student performance data.
  • Ensure HEI student tutors receive regular feedback on how they are planning for and delivering tutoring sessions, including opportunities to reflect on implicit bias and expectations for student achievement (see p. 26 in the Culturally Responsive-Sustaining Education Framework for more information) 
  • Build opportunities into pre-service and in-service training for career awareness and exploration.
Implementation Tools

HEI Specific Tools:

From Existing Resources: 

Key Insights

Have tutor training to fill any gaps between your selection criteria and your ideal tutor’s qualities.

  • Training decisions and selection decisions are related. Training should help tutors acquire whatever important qualities a program did not actively select for during recruitment.
  • Model design decisions also influence training content. Programs with online delivery models will need to train tutors to use all features of the platform; programs with multiple students per tutor will need to train tutors to manage student behavior, programs with consistent tutors will need to emphasize relationship-building, etc.

Choose a frequency of training based on the tutor type and complexity of the program model.

  • Tutors who receive more training will be significantly more effective than those who receive less, but program capacity and return on investment is also important to consider. Consider embedding training opportunities into other structures within the natural cadence of student life within your HEI. For example, consider offering the more intensive training during the summer and/or school intersessions to ensure student tutors can balance their coursework with the responsibilities of tutoring. 

Provide training that empowers tutors to understand the school and context where they will tutor in order to strengthen the program’s collaboration with the school site.

  • By partnering with the school site to ensure tutors understand the local context, the program sends a clear message to all stakeholders that they value the unique context of the school. 
  • Empowering tutors to understand the school and context sets them up for ongoing collaboration with the program leader in the school. 
  • In existing models, school staff have led some of the site-specific training elements to ensure accuracy and to build relationships with staff working at the school. 

Understand that regardless of tutor type or program model, pre-service training alone will not be sufficient.

  • Even with the highest-quality tutors, programs need to look for opportunities to help tutors improve and resolve problems as they emerge in practice.
  • Pre-service training can prioritize building knowledge, while in-service training should hone skills. An in-service support model involves individual observation and coaching, differentiated group coaching on specific skills, and/or peer support via sharing best practices. 
  • Many HEI tutoring programs also leverage teachers and/or leaders within the district where students are tutoring, in addition to faculty with instructional expertise. If there are guest speakers coming to campus to provide aligned learning opportunities, encourage and, if possible, provide incentives for student tutors to attend these events. 

Provide tutor support, regardless of model design.

  • While the specific support structures may vary from program to program, the need for support is universal. Rigorous recruitment does not mean you can not provide oversight and support: even competent and capable individuals perform better with supervision and support.
  • There are many ways to provide support depending on a program’s design. Support could mean a formal manager on the program’s staff (sometimes referred to as a “site director”), a “lead tutor” who has been deemed effective in the role and capable of training others, a teacher at a specific school site, or something entirely different, like using a technology platform that tracks whether or not tutors are meeting expectations. It could also involve a combination of these methods: for example, several lead tutors supervised by a formal manager could effectively oversee many more tutors than a single manager could alone. In a virtual environment, a teacher educator or faculty member may be able to model instruction for a large group of students and follow up with individual student groupings facilitated by student tutors in breakout rooms. 

Trace student outcomes to root causes in tutor practices to identify training needs.

  • Student academic data should inform tutor training. If students are struggling with vernacular misconceptions, for example, targeted training on anticipating and preventing these misconceptions by clarifying terminology could help tutors serve students better. Additionally, If the data indicates that lack of mastery of a prerequisite skill is the barrier for mastering the current standard, training tutors to identify missing prerequisite skills and build a remediation lesson should be considered. Faculty from your HEI with an instructional background may already have resources to support the development of such lesson content. 

Seek feedback from tutors about their needs to customize training content.

  • Students feel empowered and excited when they have agency in their own learning, and the same is true of student tutors. Soliciting feedback from tutors and providing training geared towards their self-identified needs not only helps them become better tutors, but also helps them feel supported and valued by the program. This will have additional benefits for the HEI students, impacting their success at the HEI in other areas such as academic success and persistence.
  • Build opportunities for tutors to reflect on how their experience informs their potential career paths. Provide guidance on opportunities for students to continue exploring careers in youth-serving professions, such as teaching.