Online resource for volunteer tutors

Hello everyone,

We wanted to let you know about an exciting online resource that is being designed to help volunteer tutors learn more about teaching reading effectively to adult basic education and literacy learners.  Volunteer tutors will be able to access tutoring strategies based on evidence-based research that address the specific needs of the learners they work with.  These resources will be available from any computer with Internet access. 

LINCS Region 4 Professional Development Center is partnering with Portland State University’s LearnerWeb to develop 1-2 page summaries that will answer common questions volunteer tutors have related to teaching skills in the four components of reading: alphabetics, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension. The summaries will focus on a specific question about reading and answer it using content from LINCS Teaching Adults to Read face-to-face and online trainings and the publications upon which they were based. The summaries will also point tutors to additional resources that are more in-depth such as videos demonstrating relevant tutoring strategies, LINCS communities of practice, online courses, web resources and publications.

In order to make this online resource as useful as possible to as many volunteer tutors as possible, we’d like to ask for your help in answering these questions: 

  • In your experience, what are the most common questions volunteer tutors have about how to teach specific reading skills? 
  • What do volunteers—both new and veteran—need to know more about when it comes to teaching skills in the four components of reading:  alphabetics, vocabulary, fluency and comprehension? 

Your responses will help guide the direction of this project so we can best serve volunteers and ultimately, the learners they work with.  Any thoughts you can offer would be so valuable—and so greatly appreciated.

Please email your responses to Amy Prevedel at, or Kathy St. John at  Thanks in advance for your ideas! 

Sincerely yours,

Amy Prevedel and Kathy St. John

Consultants, LINCS Region 4 Professional Development Center


Amy and Kathy,

I'm glad that you are taking on this important work.

Two observations from our work:

1. Tutoring is a slow intervention for adult participants, even with the best tutors, materials, and supports. So, tracking participants progress seems important for the tutor and tutee.

2. That learning to read is about developing comprehension of textual materials and words. My sense is that tutors have difficulty understanding that readers can not work on reading components (e.g., decoding) in isolation but really need extensive practice in applying those skills. Thus I'd advocate for paying close attention to the reader's purpose in learning to read better, reading materials in terms of their difficulty level as well as the content familiarity for the reader. Link the reading content to topics of interest.