Three Methods of Assessing Student Performance in Tutoring Sessions

assessing performance exams

Following the initial evaluation of a student’s objectives and needs, and during each tutoring session, the tutor will be taking the temperature, assessing the progress and performance of that learner – Student Performance.

By remaining alert and using a variety of techniques, the tutor will be able to determine whether the student has learned the material covered in the session, and where to begin instruction in the next session.

Here are a few methods in assessing student performance.


An observation is a simple way to determine what a student does when he/she is completing an assignment. The tutor merely gives the student a task to complete and then watches the student as he/she completes the assignment. The tutor should note how the student goes about the assignment.

  • Does he/she use an organized strategic approach or is the approach hit or miss/trial and error?
  • What portions of the work are done correctly or incorrectly?
  • Is there any evidence of frustration or confusion in completing the work?
  • How well is the student able to maintain focus on the task?
  • Does the student recheck his/her work for errors?

Think Alouds

A think-aloud is similar to an observation except that with this method the student thinks out loud and verbalizes what he/she is doing while performing a task. The student should say whatever he or she is looking at, thinking, doing, and feeling while going about the task as the tutor watches and listens. The tutor should not interject anything into the process, even if the student is proceeding incorrectly.

The think-aloud allows the tutor to:

  • Understand how the student is approaching a particular task or problem.
  • Find out exactly where in the process the student is experiencing difficulties.
  • Determine what concepts the student is missing.
  • Uncover any misconceptions the student might have about the topic.

Think alouds can be used with reading material with the student stopping at points in the reading to tell what he/she is thinking and what strategies are being used to understand (e.g. what he did when he came to a word in the sentence that he did not understand), in working through math problems (the step by step process) or science problems, and in interpreting assignments.

End of Session Summary

At the end of each tutorial session, tutors can ask a student to briefly summarize what has been learned in the session. This should only take a minute or two and will let the tutor know how well a student has understood the material that has been covered, and help the tutor plan for the next session. The end-of-session summary is valuable for both tutor and student.

Author’s note:

This article is based on portions of the tutor training programs provided by Crossroads of Learning.

Professional development for tutors, trainers or academic coaches is available via on-line courses or a train-the-trainer/workbook program.

All courses and materials articulate with the certification requirements of the National Tutoring Association.

For more information, visit the website at

Oases Online tutoring tracking software can be used create learning objectives and record tutor/student observations and session progress summaries when assessing student performance. Oases produces automatic student progress reports based on these session summaries.

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