Instruction: Relationship Building

Quality Standards

Student-Tutor Relationship: The program has an intentional strategy and supporting systems to build strong, positive relationships between students and tutors. 

Tutor Consistency: Students receive consistent tutoring from the same tutor; any adjustments to groupings occur sparingly and strategically. 

Critical Question
  • How should tutoring sessions be structured and facilitated to build strong relationships?
Implementation Checklist
  • Ensure tutor training and coaching reflect a motivating, asset-based approach and a growth mindset when students struggle.
  • Match tutors to students using intentional and systematic methods.
  • Train tutors to include specific strategies and activities that encourage getting to know one another. 
  • Based on interests, develop activities outside of regular tutoring sessions to build relationships between tutors and students.
Implementation Tools

Higher Education Institution (HEI) Specific Tools:

From Existing Resources: 

Key Insights

Positive student-tutor relationships help to create successful tutoring sessions.

  • When students feel supported, they are more likely to engage in learning through productive struggle, achieve greater academic growth, and display fewer behavioral challenges.

Tutoring sessions are low-stress, high-trust environments where students' engagement and accomplishment lead to an authentic enjoyment of the academic content.

  • Most tutors feel comfortable in classrooms. Many students do not. In particular, students who need skill remediation may find learning environments high-stress and unsafe by default, as missing fundamental skills can make traditional classroom engagement feel punishing rather than productively challenging. Tutors should remember this and work to build student trust.
  • Building trust takes time and intentional effort. Program leadership and teachers need to support carving out time for tutors to cultivate relationships with their students and work hard to make learning feel engaging. This time and effort is not wasted, but some of the highest-value work a tutor can do. Helping students see learning as a positive and productive experience is paramount to a program’s success.

Tutors take an interest in their students’ lives outside the classroom and are supportive of students’ culture in their sessions.

  • To help make tutoring sessions a welcoming space that values and affirms all forms of difference, tutors should take time to understand each student and what they care about. Building this awareness will help tutors create a judgment-free space for all students.
  • Tutors should help students access challenging concepts by using customized examples and content based on what students have shared about their learning styles, cultures and identities (see p. 27 in the Culturally Responsive-Sustaining Education Framework for more information). 
  • HEI institutions that invite K-12 students to campus to participate in on-campus activities are able to foster deeper relationships between the tutor and K-12 student.