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Try Asking: "What do you understand?"

One of the most difficult questions a student has to answer after hearing a lesson is: ``What don't you understand?'' Students dread this question and many learn to never admit that they're confused.

If students knew what they didn't comprehend, they wouldn't be lost. They can form coherent questions only if they understand the whole lesson.

The solution is to ask instead, ``What did you understand?'' The student gets a positive start on the problem by telling you what he or she knows. The tutor can sort out the areas that have caused the student not to understand.

Use Encouragement To Motivate

You have the opportunity to praise the work of your students and this will give them recognition for a job well done. This is a comment that focuses on the student. You can say, ``You are so organized.'' The tutor can also motivate the student through encouragement by saying, ``Your essay showed great organization. Each idea was clearly developed.''

Other examples of the difference between praise and encouragement:

Praise: "You're a great writer."
Encouragement: "This story is great. Your characters are so real."

Praise: "You are super. You always get these problems right."
Encouragement: "Your hard work on solving word problems really shows"

Page last updated: September 21, 2012