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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

3. Check and correct errors

Observe performance: check for errors; ensure all errors are corrected

Research findings

Errors are a positive learning opportunity if recognized as errors. But if not recognized, errors compound faulty learning. Tutors have more time than schoolteachers to observe carefully for errors. But they might not be so good at actually recognizing them.

Tutors also have more time than teachers to intervene in a way that encourages self-correction. Self-correction is widely recognized as an important step towards developing metacognition (understanding how you learn) and self-managed learning.

Tutors are much less likely than teachers to be ‘experts’ in the subject. Accordingly, tutors benefit from access to some ‘master’ version of correctness or a perfect model. Otherwise they might reinforce errors (see Booklet 1 in this series; Topping & Ehly, 1998).

Practical applications

· Observe tutee performance closely. If errors are not seen and corrected, much faulty learning will take place. Some errors might be just carelessness. But many will show a failure to understand.

· Check for errors. When you see an error, try to intervene positively. Avoid just saying ‘no!’. First, suggest to your tutee that you think they might have made an error. Encourage them to find where. If they cannot find where, give them a clue to help them locate the error.

· Promote self-correction. When they have found it, talk about the nature of the error. In what way is it wrong? Why? How can it be put right? Through this discussion, you give the tutee the chance to put the error right themselves (self-correct). This is much better for their learning and for their confidence.

· Correction procedure. Of course, if they try to self-correct but still do not get it right, you will need to intervene more. If all else fails, you might need to: demonstrate or model the correct response; lead or prompt the tutee to imitate this; check that the tutee can produce the correct response without help.

· Ensure correct correction. Tutors do not know everything. So there is a risk they will not notice all the errors the tutee makes. Even worse, they might insist some answers are wrong, when actually they are correct. Or they might see the tutee has got something wrong, but get it wrong themselves in trying to correct it. In those kinds of tutoring where there are ‘right answers’ (for example, mathematics problems), it is helpful if the tutor has some master source of reference (like the correct answers on a separate sheet or in the back of the book). This might be especially necessary if tutor and tutee are not very different in ability in the subject.