The Art of Pushing Information, Part 1

Let’s say you’re in a session with a student who’s visibly stuck and frustrated by a lack of progress. You’ve just asked some guiding questions, but with no success.

What’s a tutor to do now??

We know how tricky this scenario can be, given our dedication to student involvement.

While it’s definitely bad for a student to get so much help that they fail to learn, it’s just as bad and often worse for the learning process when they get so little help that they give up completely.

Instead of asking more guiding questions that the student may just guess on or not answer, here’s an initial list of tips for inspiration. Future posts in this series will expand on tactics like these.

  1. Walk the student through increasingly simple, targeted examples.
  2. Provide encouraging, motivating, and supportive language.
  3. Give increasingly specific hints about what the next step requires the student to use, find, or do.
  4. Assure the student that they’ll get to the answer AND feel comfortable with this material in the future if they bear with you for a while longer.
  5. Further break down explanations you’ve given earlier in the session, focusing on what the student is having the most trouble with.
  6. Do a small part of the work for the student, then have the student take over.
  7. Discover more of what the student DOES understand and build on top of it.

What other tactics have helped you in these situations? Please discuss and tell us what you think in the comments section below!

-Team Yup


NEW Tutor Rubric, Quality Assurance System, and Session Tags!

Good evening tutors,

We are thrilled to announce the launch of Tutor Rubric 3.0! 

Sessions will be graded according to Rubric 3.0 starting this coming Monday, August 7th. 

The new rubric shares many features with the last version, but includes new emphasis on instruction pace, responsiveness, teaching tools, and fostering a growth mindset in students.

Along with the new rubric, we are releasing Quality Assurance System 2.0. The redesigned system provides you with individual workbooks that let you see your performance, scheduling, and payment information all in one place. Each of you will be emailed a link to your individual QA 2.0 Workbook later this evening.

Finally, we’ve updated the Session Tags that tutors and TQMs apply to sessions after they’ve ended. Everything you need to know about these changes can be found in the following short documents.

Tutor Rubric 3.0

Guide to Tutor Rubric 3.0 and Session Tags

Guide to Your Tutor Workbook

Connecting Your Tutor Workbook

We ask that you familiarize yourself with the new Rubric, QA System, and Tags by this coming Monday. We’re excited to be starting another school year with all of you and want to hear any feedback you have on these changes over the coming weeks.

Thank you,

Team Yup

NEW Speed Policies and Features!

Why is speed so important?

As reported by students, speed is overwhelmingly the number one reason why they stop using our service. Many students tell us that they often find themselves waiting long periods of time to hear back from their tutors. Part of this has to do with the medium we’re using; when kids text each other, they expect immediate responses. With some minor changes in how we communicate, we can use this to our advantage to keep students more engaged.

How are we measuring speed?

If you’ve taken any sessions in the last few days, then you might have seen this bar in your Tutor Dashboard, which appears when at least 30 seconds have passed since you sent your last message:

If it shows up while you’re drawing on your whiteboard or waiting for your student to finish some work, don’t worry! This is just a reminder to be vigilant and periodically check in with your student. We will not be penalizing you just for letting this bar show up. We’ll soon be introducing policies that do depend on your response speed, though, so it’s important that you know how we measure it.

The feature above depends on how long it’s been since your last message; the new policies in the list below are linked to the time since your student’s last message or since anyone’s last message. In the future, we’ll refer to these last two values as your Tutor-To-Student (TTS) and Tutor-To-Anyone (TTA) response times.

When we calculate your TTS and TTA for a given week, we’ll use the median of these times, not the average, so that letting the student work alone every now and then won’t skew your data. For example, let’s say that your median TTA for a week is 15 seconds. This means that exactly half of your messages came more than 15 seconds after the previous one, and the other half came less than 15 seconds after.

What are the new speed policies?

Next Monday, July 17th, we’ll give you a way to see your median TTS and TTA from the previous week (meaning this current week). For each day of that week, we’ll also show you your median TTS and TTA for the day. The following Monday, July 24th, we’ll start holding everyone accountable for the following policies.

  1. Median TtS for a week is less than 10 seconds: $25 bonus
  2. Median TtA for a week is greater than 30 seconds: 2 infractions
  3. Any session contains a TtS response that took 5 minutes or more: Session refunded

Breaches of these last two policies are rare. Still, we are giving them real consequences to ensure that speed is a high priority in the coming months. We look forward to gathering your feedback on these policies in a few weeks’ time and continuing to refine them as we learn more. We’re fully aware that good explanations take time, but we’ve still found that several of our highest-performing tutors, including some whose native language isn’t English, have maintained a median TTS and TTA of under 10 seconds!

What are some strategies for increasing speed?

The following are some ideas to help you make sure that speed is never an issue. If you think of others, don’t hesitate to share!

  • Break messages into pieces. Be as brief as you can in each message while still being informative. When responding to interruptions and questions, send a short response immediately, then expand on it from there.
  • Explicitly acknowledge what the student has said. Try to use specific words or ideas that have recently shown up in the student’s messages. This helps them understand upcoming steps more quickly and creates a sense of continuous progress.
  • Reassure the student that you’re there. This is a good practice to follow in general and a simple way to avoid response times greater than 5 minutes. That said, you don’t need to check in every 15 seconds or so (which may actually annoy the student) because we use your median times and not your averages.

Keep up the great work,

Team Yup

Probability & Statistics Resources

As many of you know, this year we have seen an influx of probability and statistics problems. As the end of the school year approaches, we’re likely to see a reprisal of these concepts as students prepare for final exams.

To ensure everyone is prepared to handle these sessions, we have compiled a document of statistics and probability solutions taken from actual student questions, including binomial/multinomial distribution, hypothesis testing, probability of a sample mean, margin of error, confidence intervals and linear regression.

Probability & Statistics Solutions

We have also sourced some helpful Khan Academy lessons on these concepts:

Statistics & Probability: Interpreting Categorical and Quantitative Data

Statistics & Probability: Making Inferences and Justifying Conclusions

Statistics & Probability: Conditional Probability & the Rules of Probability

Statistics & Probability: Using Probability to Make Decisions

We expect you to use these resources wisely and ensure you are prepared to teach these concepts if need be.

Let us know what questions you have!

— Team Yup