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02 Chemistry Tips Chemistry Blog

The Characteristics of Successful Tutors

In the previous article titled “3 Tips on How to Find the Right Tutor”,  some crucial factors were highlighted when looking for a tutor. Primarily, the 3 main factors were expertise, empathy, and being accepting of feedback

While these factors are important for students looking for a tutor, little is known about being a successful tutor. Are the determinants of a successful tutor based on the length of experience? Or perhaps, a high income from teaching? 

To learn more about the characteristics of a successful tutor, this article will introduce some of the factors to being a successful tutor for fellow tutors as well as students!

Setting Goals and Outcomes  

Tutors are familiar with the metrics and goals that they aim to achieve. This could be a general objective goal to increase the performance of students by a letter grade, or a goal to refine teaching methods. 

Understanding Engagement

Based on a paper by Fredericks, engagement is a key factor in effective teaching. The three main aspects of engagement for tutors are behavioural, emotional, and cognitive understanding. Emotional engagement is perhaps one of the most underrated in teachings, it involves a sense of fulfilment, achievement, and motivation.  One might notice that teachers that try to understand the personality and quirks of each student tend to be more understanding of what mechanism makes the student satisfied. 

For example, students may be more satisfied with a comment written on the paper “Well done! Great improvement from the previous paper. Keep it up!”. 

For another student, it may be a verbal affirmation, “Joseph, well done on the 60/100, a great improvement!”. 

These subtle complements blend into the lessons which make the experience enjoyable. Even after the lessons, it feels positive and leaves students wanting to learn more. 

However, a successful tutor does not only paint an image of rainbows and enjoyment, there are also times when negative emotions are needed. For example, students need to be reminded to build on fundamental skills, the consequences of not doing so will lead to a waste of things that were learned prior.  Such forms of ups and downs in the learning journey allow tutors to go above and beyond, to deliver an experience more holistic than a simple tuition class.


In a class of 5 to 15 students, student collaboration can be an effective tool. Similarly, successful tutors study the collaborative elements of students to develop the framework. 

A collaborative activity can allow tutors to observe if the students are adaptive, collaboratively problem-solving, or relying on another student due to learned helplessness. For example, in an activity that requires 4 students to solve a mathematical integration problem, it is likely that one of the students is stronger and much more capable at solving the equation, allowing him/her to solve the problem easily in place of the team. 

In the subsequent activity, a tutor can then change the structure of the task. Each student in the team can try their hand at the mathematical question for a duration of time. At the end of the period, students gather to share their process regardless of if the answer is derived.

The purpose of the restructuring is to strategically guide students to put the equation into the back of their minds. Instead, of relying on one student or constantly breaking down and trying to integrate the equation, the tutor plays the role of a guidepost, pointing each student to the next step.

At the end of the day, each student is shown the next step from where they were stuck, pushing the learning process forwards. 

At Achieversdream, this is actively done through lab sessions and in-class lessons, where students are gathered to and our tutors learn to guide students in their journey to scoring in Chemistry.