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close this bookTutoring (IAE - IBE - UNESCO, 36 p.)
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentThe international academy of education
View the documentSeries preface
View the documentIntroduction
View the document1. Real-life goals
View the document2. Question and prompt
View the document3. Check and correct errors
View the document4. Discuss and praise
View the document5. Reading: support and review
View the document6. Writing: map and edit
View the document7. Mathematics: make it real and summarize
View the document8. Recruit and match partners
View the document9. Provide training and materials
View the document10. Monitor and give feedback
View the documentConclusion
View the documentReferences and further reading
View the documentBack cover

Series preface

This booklet is about tutoring. Tutoring can be defined as people who are not professional teachers helping and supporting the learning of others in an interactive, purposeful and systematic way. Tutors could include parents or other adult carers, brothers and sisters, other students from the peer group, and various kinds of volunteers.

Research shows tutoring can be highly effective. This is good news, since in some places in some countries there will never be enough professional teachers. In fact, knowledge is growing so fast that even in economically advanced countries, learners cannot rely only on professional teachers.

However, every attempt at tutoring is not automatically effective, everywhere. To be effective, tutoring needs to be thoughtful, well structured and carefully monitored. Tutors must be clear about how they can help, and how not.

Principles for effective tutoring are given in this booklet. Much of the booklet is written for tutors themselves. This is especially true of the ‘Practical applications’ parts of Chapters 1 to 7, discussing the first seven principles. Chapters 8 to 10 are aimed more at organizers of tutoring.

This booklet has been prepared for inclusion in the Educational Practices Series developed by the International Academy of Education and distributed by the International Bureau of Education and the Academy. As part of its mission, the Academy provides timely syntheses of research on educational topics of international importance. This booklet is the fifth in the series on educational practices that generally improve learning.

The author is Keith Topping, Director of the Centre for Paired Learning in the Department of Psychology at the University of Dundee in Scotland. The centre does research and development work in ‘intelligent systems for parent, peer and computer-assisted learning’. It designs and evaluates the effectiveness of methods of tutoring in many content and skill areas (for example, reading, writing, thinking, spelling, mathematics, science) for learners of all ages in many different contexts (for example, elementary school, high school, college or university, community lifelong learning, distance learning, the workplace). Topping, a specialist in educational psychology, has authored fifteen books and over 175 other publications, including many multimedia in-service training and distance-learning packs. He presents, trains, consults and engages in collaborative action and research around the world. (See for links to free tutoring resources.)

The officers of the International Academy of Education are aware that this booklet is based on research carried out primarily in economically advanced countries. The booklet, however, focuses on aspects of learning through tutoring that are universal. The practices presented here are likely to be generally applicable throughout the world. Indeed, they might be especially useful in countries that are currently less developed economically. Even so, the principles should be assessed with reference to local conditions, and adapted accordingly. In any educational setting or cultural context, suggestions or guidelines for practice require sensitive and sensible application, and continuing evaluation.

Editor, IAE Educational Practices Series,
University of Illinois at Chicago

Previous titles in the ‘Educational practices series’

1. Teaching by Jere Brophy. 36 p.

2. Parents and learning by Sam Redding. 36 p.

3. Effective educational practices by Herbert J. Walberg and Susan J. Paik. 24 p.

4. Improving student achievement in mathematics by Douglas A. Grouws and Kristin J. Cebulla. 48 p.

These titles can be downloaded from the website of the IEA ( or of the IBE (, or paper copies can be requested from: IBE, Publications Unit, P.O. Box 199, 1211 Geneva 20, Switzerland

This publication has been produced in 2000 by the International Academy of Education (IAE), Palais des Acades, 1, rue Ducale, 1000 Brussels, Belgium, and the International Bureau of Education (IBE), P.O. Box 199, 1211 Geneva 20, Switzerland.

It is available free of charge and may be freely reproduced and translated into other languages. Please send a copy of any publication that reproduces this text in whole or in part to the IAE and the IBE. This publication is also available on the Internet. See the ‘Publications’ section, ‘Educational Practices Series’ page at:

The author is responsible for the choice and presentation of the facts contained in this publication and for the opinions expressed therein, which are not necessarily those of UNESCO/IBE and do not commit the organization. The designations employed and the presentation of the material in this publication do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of UNESCO/IBE concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area, or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries

Printed in Switzerland by PCL, Lausanne.