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Peer Tutor Guide

The Prompt Response Method

The Prompt Response Method

A prompt is a statement or a question that requests a response. Generally, tutors prompt with a question and students respond.

The following scenario is an example of the Prompt-Response Method:

Tutor (prompt): “How do I find the horizontal intercepts?” Student (response): “I plug zero in the y and solve for x.”

The tutor’s prompt is a leading question, a very common tutoring technique. This question helped the tutor identify the information the student has already mastered. Tutor initiated prompts should be questions designed to engage the student. See the ‘Asking the Right Questions’ section of this manual for more information about effective questioning techniques.

Another example of using the Prompt-Response Method:

Student (prompt): “I don’t get the difference between a domain and range.”

Tutor (response): “What do you know about domain and range?”

The tutor did not answer the student’s question, but instead responded with another prompt in the form of a question. Again the tutor offered a prompt to help clarify for both of them the student’s level of knowledge.

Advantages of Tutor Prompt Student Respond

  • Focuses attention on the topic keeps the session on track.
  • Focuses attention on the student, not the tutor.
  • The student is an active learner.
  • Helps the student gain self confidence as a learner.
  • The tutor can assess the student’s knowledge and understanding.
  • Demonstrates an effective learning strategy that the student can apply independently.

Disadvantages of Tutor Prompt Student Respond

  • Can turn into a frustrating guessing game (Guess what’s in my head?).
  • Can become an interrogation (Since you don’t know A, then do you know B?).
  • Can be frustrating for the tutor if the student doesn’t respond.
  • Student may come to feel inadequate.
  • Questions may seem like threats.
  • Questions may be seen as prompts for thought and consideration rather than a response.
  • Some students respond better to being shown what to know and then asked to repeat it.
  • Sometimes it is more efficient to exchange information rather than prompt.

Tips for Using the Prompt Response Method

  1. Wait...be patient. Give the student time to think about and respond to a prompt. Don’t rush to fill in the answer.
  2. Ask one question at a time. Don’t ask questions in rapid fire succession or it will seem like an inquisition.
  3. Use learning resources. Use the text, lecture notes, and other learning resources to demonstrate where to find answer to questions. Don’t give message that the tutor is the only source of information.