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close this bookTutoring (IAE - IBE - UNESCO, 36 p.)
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentThe international academy of education
View the documentSeries preface
View the documentIntroduction
View the document1. Real-life goals
View the document2. Question and prompt
View the document3. Check and correct errors
View the document4. Discuss and praise
View the document5. Reading: support and review
View the document6. Writing: map and edit
View the document7. Mathematics: make it real and summarize
View the document8. Recruit and match partners
View the document9. Provide training and materials
View the document10. Monitor and give feedback
View the documentConclusion
View the documentReferences and further reading
View the documentBack cover

8. Recruit and match partners

Recruit and match learning partners with care.

Research findings

The effects of different ways of recruiting tutors have not been systematically studied. In the United States of America, it is quite usual for tutors who are themselves students to receive course credit or payment for tutoring. In Europe, this is not at all usual, and there is much more emphasis on voluntary tutoring. Voluntary tutors might be assumed to be better motivated. But will their motivation last? This connects with the question of whether tutoring is seen as a substitute for professional teaching, or as a valuable, different and complementary experience in its own right.

The difference in ability between the tutor and the tutee is another issue. Some research suggests that tutoring by those who are very able in the subject is more beneficial to the tutee. However, tutoring at a level so far beneath their own might quickly become boring for the tutors, who are unlikely to obtain any stimulation or other intrinsic benefit. Tutoring in pairs with a much smaller difference in ability is likely to be much more challenging and engaging for the tutors. In this situation, the tutees might not gain so much, but the tutors are likely to gain in addition. In recent years, there has been increased interest in the benefits of tutoring for the tutors. Also, near-ability tutors can be more credible models for tutees - they have themselves recently struggled and succeeded, showing that success is possible with effort (Cohen, Kulik & Kulik, 1982; Sharpley & Sharpley, 1981; Topping & Ehly, 1998).

The research suggests that age difference is much less important that ability difference, although the two might happen to go together. Research on gender differences has not yielded consistent findings, although there is some evidence that males benefit more than females from tutoring in some contexts, especially when serving as tutors to male tutees (Topping, 2000b). Of course, in some countries the idea of younger students tutoring older students, or females tutoring males (for example), might not be culturally acceptable.

Practical applications

· Voluntary or rewarded tutors? Decide early on whether tutors will be rewarded or not, as it will effect recruitment - for good and/or bad.

· Parental agreement. Consider whether parental agreement needs to be given, before tutoring commences.

· State clear goals. Tutor and tutee should agree on what they are trying to achieve. Do not be too ambitious.

· Say when you do not know. Nobody knows everything. Tutors (and organizers of tutoring) should always say when they are unsure. Teaching something that is wrong harms both tutor and tutee.

· Decide ability differential. Are tutors and tutees to be quite close in ability in the subject of tutoring, or far apart? What are the advantages and disadvantages of each?

· Consider personalities. Also think of possible personality and relationship clashes when matching pairs. For example, do not match a very quiet and timid tutee with a very dominant and strict tutor. Existing ‘friends’ might work well together - or they might chatter about anything but work. Do not necessarily accept tutee preference for a tutor.

· Fixed or reciprocal roles. Even in a pair of very different ability, sometimes it is effective for the tutee to try to teach the tutor something. This is a good way of checking if the tutee really understands it.

· Schedule contact time. How often will the pair meet each week? Where? How long will each session be? Over how many weeks? Both tutor and tutee must be clear about their time commitment.

· Handling absence. Consider how to deal with the absence of tutor or tutee. You might wish to name a ‘standby’ tutor as back-up.