Put the Pencil Down

A Tutor Training Textbook Developed and Produced by the University Tutorial Center.

Put the Pencil Down


Productive tutoring consists of a complex set of behaviors that can best be taught bydemonstrating effective techniques, allowing practice in real tutoring situations, and giving opportunities for reflection and discussion. Over time, this guided training approach steadily closes the gap between actual and optimal tutoring performances.

Put the Pencil Down: Essentials of Tutoring is designed to be used in this cycle of modeling, practice, reflection, and discussion. The 83-page book is designed to not only provide information to tutors, but also encourage reflection and discussion. Each chapter opens with vignettes from peer tutors about their experiences and includes exercises for tutors to complete.


Table of Contents

  1. Introduction: Includes overview of tutoring and the tutor’s role. Why tutor development is important. Tutoring ethics. Also includes activities to help potential tutors decide if tutoring is right for them. (Read Chapter 1 now!)
  2. Types of Tutoring: Introduces tutors to the four stages of tutoring (opening, goal setting, working, and closing) as well as describing different types of tutoring session (term-long assignments, one-time sessions and drop-in sessions) and how the tutoring stages look different in these environments.
  3. Cultural Differences: A foundational chapter which encourages tutors to reflect on their own culture and values and demonstrates how culture affects tutoring sessions.
  4. Structuring a Session: Introduces tutors to theories of experts and novices and adult learning theory. Discusses how these theories can help a tutor decide on the amount of structure to use in a session.
  5. Getting Students to Talk: A chapter devoted to verbalization and questioning. Different types of questions (including Bloom’s taxonomy and Socratic questioning) as well as skills important to questioning such as wait time and listening to nonverbal signals.
  6. Giving Feedback: Discusses different feedback options including positive reinforcement and assertiveness.
  7. Developing Good Study Skills:Includes discussions on goal setting, time management, study spaces, textbooks, notes, memorization, and test preparation.
  8. Learning Styles: Based on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator®
  9. Direct Techniques: When to use direct techniques and how to use them effectively.
  10. Conclusion: Asks tutors to reflect on their development.

Teacher’s Edition

The teacher’s edition includes additional activities for each chapter as well as sample schedules for training.  It is designed to offer additional ideas and support for tutor trainers using Put the Pencil Down: Essentials of Tutoring. The Teacher’s Edition also includes documentation aligning training objectives with ITTPC topics for the CRLA certification process. See a sample page.

Video Links: Although this text is designed to stand alone, we highlight concepts where segments of our video series, A Look at Productive Tutoring Techniques, are appropriate. We’ve also included notes about other interesting videos.