One of the most distinguishing characteristics of an expert tutor is their considerable attention given to motivating students as well as providing cognitive information to them. They seem to have a working model of each tutee on when they need more emotional support, and when they need to be challenged in their state of knowledge construction. Lepper and Woolverton proposes the INSPIRE model which highlights seven critical characteristics of expert tutors:
I - intelligent. Expert tutors know their subject well and are able to guide their tutees in knowledge construction.
N - nurturant. Expert tutors are highly supportive and nurturing of their students.
S - Socratic. Expert tutors engage their students using questions rather than directions or assertions, they provide hints and not answers.
P - progressive. Expert tutors carefully plan their tutoring sessions of increasing difficulty and complexity, but they are also flexible in adjusting their session in response to the student's learning.
I - indirect. Expert tutors deliberately avoid overt criticism of their students' mistakes but rather often pose questions that imply the existence of the errors.
R - reflective. Expert tutors ask their students to reflect aloud on what they have just done immediately after a successful attempt in their problem solving.
E - encouraging. Expert tutors keep their students' interest / attention / involvement high by instilling confidence and a sense of curiosity.
Lepper, M. and Woolverton, M. (2002). "The Wisdom of Practice: Lessons Learned from the Study of Highly Effective Tutors" in Improving Academic Achievement. Elsevier Science, pp 135 - 158.