The benefits of chat based tutoring
My name is Eirik, and I have been a tutor as long as I can remember. I have tutored friends and family, first graders and university students, and I have worked in Norway and Mozambique. Sometimes I tutored friends through chat-apps, such as messenger, but this was never my first choice. When I started working with SnapMentor I was amazed by all the opportunities chat based tutoring provided. And now I want to share some of my experiences with you.
Chat based tutoring has many advantages. As a tutor there is nothing better than creating and developing understanding. My problem has always been that when I see the question, I rush into the explanation, eager to explain, but sometimes ending up confusing the student instead.
When I explain problems and solutions through a chat, I take my time. I write an answer and then I rewrite it. Removing some unhelpful details, and adding others. This allows me to tailor my answer to the student.
Through my work with the SnapMentor platform I have found three criteria for chat based tutoring to work.
First, you need to understand the real issue.
When communicating via chat you cannot read your students facial expression. The best way to understand your student is to let them show you their thoughts and work. I always open with: “Can you show me what you got so far?” or “How do you think you can solve this?”. This allows me to tailor my explanation to their specific issue.
Second, your answer needs structure.
The big advantage of chat based tutoring is structure. I write down and number every step of my thought process and send them to my student. Sometimes I only send my first steps, and ask them how we should continue. This numbered process allows the students to understand and use these principles again in other exercises.
Third, you need to confirm whether your student learned anything.
Ask them to re-explain the problem to you. Then you know if you have succeeded, or whether you should try again.
Working with the SnapMentor platform I find that some students respond better to chat based tutoring, than face to face tutoring. In a face to face situation, they become stressed. I ask them to reflect upon their answer, but they just blurt their first thought. When we chat, all that pressure is removed. They have time to read their question and my comments, and reflect, without anyone looking over their shoulders.
Chat based tutoring has come to stay, and it is time to explore the educational opportunities it brings.
Eirik Hernes Berre
Academic Lead @Snapmentor. Combining first hand tutors knowledge to give students a better learning experience