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Peer Tutor Handbook: Part 1: Welcome to the Keleher Learning Commons Tutoring and Writing Center

Peer tutoring is a core component of student success at USM. Here's the Keleher Learning Commons approach.

Welcome, tutors!

Congratulations and welcome! We are delighted that you've accepted a leadership position as a tutor at the University of Saint Mary’s Keleher Learning Commons. Peer tutoring is a core component of student success at USM and we’re so happy to have you as part of the team. While tutoring should never replace faculty assistance, it can make all the difference in a student’s quest for academic excellence. Tutoring is a popular and integral resource. We currently provide opportunities for students to seek assistance in nearly every subject area, and we have YOU to thank for making that possible! A faculty member has recommended you because he/she sees you as someone with the background, communication skills, patience, and solid academic standing to take on this responsibility. Your role is an important one. Please use this handbook as a guide and resource as you not only help students realize their potentials, but also as you realize yours. Again, thank you, and welcome aboard!

About Us

Keleher Learning Commons Tutoring and Writing Center Mission & Vision
The Keleher Learning Commons challenges and empowers students to maximize their academic potential by offering opportunities to work individually and collaboratively, learn from peers and experts, discover and explore resources, technology, and ideas, and create and experiment. The Keleher Learning Commons provides an inviting supportive environment for learning, engaging with history, life and career planning, and community involvement.
Further, the Tutoring and Writing Center’s mission is to empower USM students to be strategic learners by providing student-centered academic support through peer-to-peer and small group collaboration with a program that’s designed by students for students.
Aligning with the University of Saint Mary values of Excellence and Community the Peer Tutoring Program seeks to maximize academic potential and promote student success and retention in a safe and welcoming environment.

Rationale
  • Many students tend to feel more comfortable asking questions in small groups rather than large classes.
  • Peer tutors have often experienced the same difficulties and can help students through the learning process.
  • Students meet with the same peer tutor throughout the semester, which provides continuity and consistency to the assistance given.
  • Tutors help students develop and improve their study skills and learning strategies, as well as their self-confidence with the course material.
  • Provides professional development for Peer Tutors as student employees.
Overview of Services
Walk-ins
Walk-in services are one-on-one or small group tutoring sessions in various subjects. Walk-ins are offered in the Keleher Learning Commons where tutors are available at specific days/times during each academic semester. The students who seek tutoring assistance are served on a first-come-first-served basis. Walk-in tutoring sessions may last for 30 minutes
Study Groups (Small Group Tutoring)
Small group tutoring occurs when a tutor leads a single session with a group of 3-5 students. Students must be enrolled in the same course with the same instructor and must need assistance with the same material. Generally, students schedule a group tutoring session together. However, individual students could schedule a group session with the understanding that other students from the same course may be added to it. Small group tutoring is based on collaborative learning principles where all members, guided by a tutor, are responsible for sharing their knowledge. Group tutoring sessions are 45-60 minutes long. 
Referrals
During tutoring sessions, students may present information or exhibit behavior indicating that they may be facing personal problems that seem to be consistently interfering with learning. In such cases, the tutors should not attempt to solve the problem, but rather refer the student to the appropriate office or service at the university. The tutors are familiar with the range of professional services available at the University of Saint Mary, and will refer the student to the appropriate office for assistance.

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What it means to be a Peer Tutor

Peer Tutor Job Description, Responsibilities, Qualifications, and Skills 

Job Description and Responsibilities:
  • Assists students with reading comprehension, math, writing, research skills, and/or concepts key to the field in which the student-employee tutors (English, math, science, theology, history, drawing, etc.)
  • Participates in tutor training sessions offered by the Keleher Learning Commons (KLC)
  • Adheres to KLC Code of Ethics
  • Maintains accurate records of all tutoring sessions
  • Complies with deadlines for items such as time cards
  • Completes new-hire orientation
  • Performs additional duties as assigned
Qualifications and Skills:
  • Recommendation of USM faculty member
  • Sophomore, Junior, or Senior standing (Freshmen may be considered on a case by case basis)
  • Minimum 2.75 GPA
  • An A or B in each of the courses tutored OR demonstrated knowledge of the subject
    • Example: Student has not taken Pre-calculus because they started their first college semester in Calculus I, but they can tutor Pre-calculus
  • Abides by guidelines regarding student confidentiality
  • Strong communication and teamwork skills
  • Willingness to explain the same material in different ways with patience and understand that everyone learns differently
  • Maintain an understanding that failure does not define anyone’s identity
  • Ability to manage tutoring schedules and reporting procedures
Etiquette and Ethics 
Peer Tutoring Code of Ethics
(adapted from Monmouth University’s Tutoring and Writing Services Handbook)
1. I understand that my role as a tutor is to enable students to do their own work using the best learning approach possible.
2. I will never guess at or appropriate a grade for a student’s work. I understand that evaluative comments are reserved for the instructor alone.
3. I will provide honest feedback in the form of positive praise and/or constructive suggestions to the students I serve in a manner that will be beneficial to their overall learning.
4. I will demonstrate faith in my student’s learning abilities.
5. I understand that my relationship to the student is purely professional and not personal.
6. I will show respect for my students’ cultural background and personal value system.
7. I recognize that I do not have all the answers to student questions. In this event, I will seek assistance in finding answers to the student’s questions and/or direct the student to an appropriate resource for the information.
8. I will maintain accurate records of tutoring sessions as expected and required.
9. I will respect my students’ personal dignity at all times.
10. I will be on time for tutoring appointments, not only out of courtesy, but to be a good example for my students to follow.
11. I will keep information about the students to whom I am assigned confidential.
12. I understand that my ultimate goal is to assist students in discovering how they learn best and to help my students develop the skills to achieve their best educational outcomes.
13. I will share any concerns I have with my supervisor. I expect to learn along with my student.
14. I will keep current in my subject area(s), learning methodologies, and tutor training.
15. I will remain flexible to my approach to student learning and be respectful various learning styles and preferences.
16. I will share techniques for improved study skills with my students.
Bloom’s Taxonomy
As tutors, we endeavor to not just teach our tutees how to be successful on one, specific assignment, but how to use “deep learning strategies [to] foster the development of cognition” (Bloom’s Taxonomy 1956). The chart below illustrates the levels of understanding relative to the types of learning experienced. Strive for deeper learning at the highest level at the outset of each session and watch your tutees improve in all areas of their education! 

Purpose and Audience of Peer Tutoring

The overall purpose of the peer-tutoring model is to provide assistance and a vehicle to understanding in a non-threatening environment. Students often seek out peer tutors because they feel more comfortable speaking with someone who is perceived as less authoritative than an instructor. In doing so, they are able to relax and work through the difficulties they have in order to gain a better understanding of the material or task at hand. As a tutor, your audience is not only your tutee, but also yourself. You, too, should work towards mastering the content you are providing assistance with, while also gaining a deeper understanding for yourself. Tutoring will, in turn, make you a better student and communicator (immediately), as well as a proficient life-long learner. 
Resources
It’s okay if you don’t know everything; in fact, that’s expected! You should stand to gain as much knowledge from the session as your tutees. Sometimes the most effective session includes searching for and navigating resources together. Be sure to check out these resources to help point you in the right direction:
Tutor Kits
Before you begin your session, ensure that you have a tutor kit on your table. Each kit contains:
  • Scratch paper
  • Pen
  • Pencil
  • Post-It Notes
  • Two (different colored) highlighters

Learning Strategies & Success Coordinator