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Answered By: Kristie Keuntjes
Last Updated: Sep 07, 2016     Views: 108

Effective communication strategies include paraphrasing, clarifying, reflecting, interpreting, and questioning.  These are all positive strategies for avoiding negative communication.



Paraphrasing is when you "communicate what you have heard and understand the student to say" (Duffey & Hodges, 2003).  These phrases will help you effectively paraphrase:

  • So you're saying that ________
  • Let me see if I have this right...
  • It sounds as though you're saying _______________
  • What I hear you saying is ____________



Clarifying is an "attempt to bring into focus the concerns or questions of the student" (Duffey & Hodges, 2003).  These questions can help clarify a student's needs:

  • Are you saying that you don't understand how this problem is different than the others?
  • So you're not sure what the first step is to this problem?



Interpreting is when you "add information to the student's statement and help the student understand his or her confusing feelings" (Duffey & Hodges, 2003).  Interpretation can sound something like "It sounds as though the problem is __________."



Questioning is the most important communication because it directly focuses the conversation on areas of needed assistance.  "Utilize questioning skills to assist the student in exploring their situations and options (Duffey & Hodges, 2003).  Here are some really great questions to ask:

  • Where would you like to start?
  • What step is the most difficult for you?
  • What does your textbook say about this topic?
  • How would you approach the previous problem?


Negative Communication

Negative communication can disrupt the objective of working with a student.  Interrupting, exhorting, preaching, teasing, shaming, patronizing, and changing the subject are all examples of negative communication.



Duffey, T., & Hodges, R. (2003). Establishing a helping relationship: Facilitating non-verbal and verbal communication. In S. Deese-Roberts (Ed.), College Reading and Learning Association Tutor Training Handbook (rev/ ed., pp. 65-75). College Reading and Learning Association.

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