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Table of contents

  1. Peer-reviewed tutoring
    1. What are we practicing?
    2. Teaching Interaction Guidelines and Reminders
    3. Structure of the session
    4. Getting set up (5 minutes)
    5. About the activity (5 to 10 minutes per student, 45 minutes total)
      1. Reflections and feedback (3-5 minutes per student, 15 minutes total)
      2. Reflection after watching the recording
  2. Acknowledgement / Contact Me

Peer-reviewed tutoring

In preparation for the 1-on-1 observations, we will practice assisting students with real debugging problems, getting feedback on your tutoring, and reflecting on it afterward.

What are we practicing?

  • Being welcoming, encouraging, and mindful of your tone and body language
  • Giving students the appropriate level of help
  • Helping students pick up cool debugging strategies
  • Use of visualizations, explanations and other techniques when appropriate
  • Managing your time (rule of thumb is to keep your interaction under 10 minutes, although depends on the context)

Teaching Interaction Guidelines and Reminders

  • Gauging how a student is feeling may be important; you may need to adjust your demeanor/tone with the student accordingly to make them more comfortable or to diffuse stress.
  • It’s important not to trivialize students’ problems.
  • Ask clarifying questions at the beginning, before trying to tackle a problem head-on.
    • Let students describe what their code is doing / what the problem is; don’t try to just look at the code first and figure it out on your own.
    • Ask students what they are trying to do (not just what’s the lab/hw question they are on but what semantic step they are working on: e.g., checking if an item already exists in the list before adding it)
    • If a student is running into an error, show them how to interpret the error and reason about the potential causes of the error; ask them what part of their code might be causing an error and ask how/what they can change and why. Perhaps, pull up the documentation if appropriate or ask them if they have seen this error before, what caused it, and how they solved it (has it been mentioned in the book?); if appropriate, search Stackoverflow for common errors.
    • Ask students to explain what they’ve already tried.
  • Tell them to print something specific in their code to help them with debugging and confirm their assumptions.
  • Lead the student towards the issue rather than telling them where the issue is in their code.
  • Encourage students to experiment with their code themselves rather than giving them direct answers.
  • Refrain from telling students whether their code is right and have them walk through an example or run their code themselves after making modifications.
  • Refer to the lab/homework write up and syllabus where appropriate.
  • If you don’t know how to handle a situation, inform the TAs or the instructor. You can also ask the student to post their problem/question on the online forum.

Structure of the session

Experienced tutors from multiple courses are invited to observe their peers tutoring to provide appropriate feedback.

In class we’ll have mini mock tutoring sessions. At the end of each session, all participants write short reflections and the experienced tutors provide helpful feedback.

Each peer-assistance session will be recorded separately, so that the student who is in the role of a tutor can review it and provide an additional reflection after the session.

Getting set up (5 minutes)

  • Introductions
    • 190J students should change their display name to include the course they are tutoring for, e.g., CS 8 - Prof. K (she/her)
  • Form pairs: each 190J student should be in the role of a tutor and a student once
  • One experienced tutor leads one or more pairs in the breakout rooms

About the activity (5 to 10 minutes per student, 45 minutes total)

  • One person assumes the role of a “student”, another that of a “tutor”. The others including the lead tutors are observers.
  • The “student” should start by picking one of the problems in the git-repo (choose an example problem in one of the directories). The student may choose a problem that is for the course that “their tutor” is ULAing this quarter.
  • The “student” should ask the “tutor” a question related to the code (see the README.txt for suggestions to get started). The tutor should appropriately engage with the student to help them solve the problem.
  • Each interaction should nominally take 5-10 minutes. If the interaction ends in less than 5 minutes, the student could proceed to ask a second question.
  • Complete the reflections and feedback described below.
  • Switch roles and repeat.

Reflections and feedback (3-5 minutes per student, 15 minutes total)

  • After each tutoring session, all the observers (including the lead tutor) should fill this form about the interaction peer-review observation form.

  • The student who assumed the role of a “tutor” should fill this reflection form: 190J-tutor reflection form.

  • The lead tutors go over the feedback in the observation form and summarize the feedback for the tutor.

If time permits, the lead tutors will discuss and summarize the main take-aways from their observations and feedback.

Reflection after watching the recording

It is an incredibly useful (albeit sometimes uncomfortable) exercise to watch a recording of yourself. Watching yourself tutor someone can help you learn a lot about your style and grow even more.

After the session, we will share a recording of your assistance. You are asked to watch the video and then reflect on it again, using the provided Teaching Guidelines (above) to highlight what you did well.

You will submit your reflection using the peer-review observation form and writing “Self” for the “190J tutor’s name”. In the “Any other comments” section add if there is anything that you would do differently after watching your interaction.

Acknowledgement / Contact Me

If you have any questions or suggestions, don’t hesitate to reach out to me via ykk@ucsb edu (remember to replace a space with a . between the ucsb and edu).

For attribution, please keep the reference to the author:

Content developed and released under the CC BY 4.0 by Yekaterina Kharitonova.

If you would like us to add or correct anything, feel free to use the edit this page on GitHub link below and then submit a Pull Request from your forked repo.