Strategies to Enable Learners to Engage with Learning (as a tutor)

Assisting learners to engage with their learning can be an essential element of being a tutor, especially at key points throughout the year. It is very common for students to approach the end of their course and lose motivation to finish their course. At times like this it is necessary for tutors to have strategies that can enable learners to once again engage with learning.

Progression & achievement

A simple method that I use on a regular basis when student motivation dips is to discuss the impact the learning will have on the student, explaining how they will benefit from the material in terms of progression, achievement and future work.

Positive Reinforcement

Another strategy is to highlight areas the student is doing well, this can be an incredibly powerful strategy as students in this situation will be focusing on the negative aspects of their studies and refocusing their attention on the positive aspects may inspire them to re-engage with learning. This can be challenging if the student has generally performed poorly throughout the year as showing them their work may reignite former forgotten stresses and embarrassments.

Peer Support

A student’s peers will often put a very different perspective on the performance and position of a particular student. It is very common for my students to discuss at length how they are performing and which assignments they have outstanding. After a conversation like this they are visibly less stressed about the work they need to complete. This is a risky strategy and one that I have not promoted aggressively as if the students are not a good match the support and feedback provided by their peer will have the opposite effect and become very de-motivational.

Peer Feedback

Peer feedback can be an excellent method for students to gain insight into the future grading of their assessment. This peer feedback can be incredibly useful for students who are looking to achieve higher marks, especially if the peer feedback is managed by the tutor by providing the assessment grading criteria.


Reframing can also be an excellent technique whereby the student’s perspective of the work required is changed so that it doesn’t feel as substantial, this can be as simple as breaking a large problem into smaller problems so that the student can see what needs to be accomplished in small manageable sections. Another useful reframing technique that I have used is to create a scenario especially for an individual student that is related to the assessment but in a workplace setting, in my experience adult learners engage far more effectively if the task is work based, especially if I can integrate their actual employer. For example, I recently had a student struggling with a risk assessment procedure, a simple question of ‘how does your employer handle risk assessments?’ revealed huge amounts of knowledge, diagrams and charts on how risk assessments are performed within their organisation. The only negative with this technique is if the reframing highlights a previously hidden point of pain, for example, the student hates their current employer; the hatred for their employer would then be associated with the tasks.


Throughout the year setting and checking targets can be a very effective method to engage students with learning, the primary benefit is students know exactly what they need to achieve and when it must be completed. In the past I have used post-it notes, each student writes their target for the week, normally comprising of completing a particular assignment, I would enter this information as a smart target to be checked the following week. Often students wouldn’t have assignments due, as a result they felt the smart target was unnecessary, however, by having an awareness of their future assignments allowed a discussion about what they thought would come up and what they could learn in the meantime that would make future assignments easier to complete, this proved to be surprisingly effective; especially in workshop sessions.

Oh hi there 👋
It’s nice to meet you.

Sign up for an email to let you know when new content has been added

We don’t spam! Read our privacy policy for more info.

Author Profile

James Barron
My first experience of teaching was in 2016, when I was asked to
deliver a talk to a group of 16-year-olds on what it was like to start
your own business. I immediately knew I wanted to become more
involved in teaching but I didn’t know where to start as I had not
previously considered a career in education. A few weeks later I
agreed to teach a class of Chinese students from the Shanghai
Technical Institute of Electronics and Information, who had travelled
to the UK to learn English and Software Engineering, after that I was
hooked. Within the next few years, I taught hundreds of students of
many different nationalities, aged from 16 to 60, and from
levels 2 to 6. I focused my time teaching with Bath University and
Bath College for several more years until I felt a change was in order.
For the last few years, I have taught remotely with several private
training organisations, provided dedicated one to one coaching
sessions, provided consultancy on teaching and assessment practices
and written about my experiences as a teacher. I plan to continue
with my current activities for the foreseeable future but I’m always
open to new teaching experiences.

Leave a Comment