Star Tutor Shares Tips

For about a month now, Paul D. Turnley has been assisting a student with One Triune God, one of the Theology core courses. Even before he was matched with a student, Paul had been contributing to the nascent Tutoring Program by sharing resources and ideas for program success. It is high time to give this tutor a “shout-out.”

First, here are a few of Paul’s observations on tutoring:

  • Tutoring is 75% cheerleading; 20% organizing, pointing in the right direction, suggesting topics, etc.; and 5% explaining. The less explaining one has to do, the better the tutor. Tutoring is not doing.
  • Part of the process involves helping students see how course content is relevant to their present or projected applications. For example, if the student is a teacher himself, have him prepare a mock lesson plan for his students rather than pursue esoteric theological-philosophical explanations of course content. This approach capitalizes on native aptitudes and professional interests and tends to energize the student.
  • It may seem counterintuitive to provide more reading to students who are already struggling with course content, but other authors often help to shed light on the subject matter by presenting it in a different way. Introducing students to experts with whom they may not be acquainted gives students an array of angles from which to approach the subject and may facilitate their grasp of key concepts so that they are better able to handle the original material.
  • These supplemental sources may be of varying degrees of difficulty. By presenting resources in a hierarchical fashion from the easiest to understand to the most difficult (which is probably the course text), it enables the student to understand the concepts in stages, each more complete and detailed than the previous.
  • Emphasize the importance of prayer, especially to the Holy Spirit. Also, keep the tutee in your prayers and the prayers of your prayer group, if you have one…and tell the tutee you’re doing that. Ministries and ministers need prayers. Make sure that they get them.

In addition, Paul has also suggested the following online resources for tutors:

Notre Dame NCAA Tutor Manual: Although geared to tutoring athletes, this thorough guidebook has several well thought-out suggestions.

Five Steps to Being an Effective Tutor: Somewhat less comprehensive than the manual above, these “5 Steps” from a community college offer some handy common-sense suggestions to get tutors started.

Tutoring Strategies: This site bills itself as an “independent, learner-centric educational public service.” In addition to the tutoring strategies, the site also boasts other instructional and learning-related Study Guides and Strategies.

Finally, Paul is to be commended for developing an innovative fee-structure. In his generosity, he felt uncomfortable asking for a fee; on the other hand, he did not want to undermine other tutors who may not be a position to volunteer. Paul solved the dilemma by asking his “tutee” to make a free-will donation to Holy Apostles College and Seminary as payment for his services. For this, and for all his enthusiastic support of the Tutoring Program, I am sincerely grateful and edified. Thank you, Paul!


Laura Brown (MA, ’14)
Director of Student Service Center
Alumni Association Member
Mobile: (331) 431-3930