The educational philosophy of constructivism (Brooks & Brooks, 1993; Fosnot,1996; Smith & Ragan,1999) guides the training methods included in the tutor training curriculum. In the same way that students construct knowledge from previous knowledge and new experiences, tutors will construct their tutoring skills from their initial understanding of tutoring and the things they learn in their tutoring experiences. Tutoring is a complex set of behaviors that can most effectively be taught in an environment that provides demonstration of effective techniques, allows for practice in real tutoring situations, and gives opportunities for reflection and discussion. These training components are fashioned upon a theoretical model developed by Sprinthall and Thies-Sprinthall (1983) called the “Teaching/ Learning Framework”, which looks at the conditions required to affect the development of more complex levels of psychological maturity. Learning experiences in the training courses are designed to complement the training cycle of modeling, practice, guided reflection, and planning.
Through the use of a tutor training videotape, the curriculum provides novice tutors and group session leaders with examples of tutoring behaviors to emulate in their sessions. This overt modeling of expected behaviors, the first step in the training cycle, is one of the most powerful ways to effect behavioral change (DeTure, 1979). In the second stage of the training cycle, students apply the demonstrated techniques to their tutoring. Through practicing these techniques in real tutoring situations, the students mentally compare their performance to the model. Dedicated reflection time, step three of the training cycle, is needed to further assess performance and plan for improvements of strategies or behaviors.
Brooks, J. G. & Brooks, M. G. (1993). The case for constructivist classrooms. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
DeTure, L. R. (1979). Relative effects of modeling on the acquisition of wait-time by preservice elementary teachers and concomitant changes in dialogue patterns. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 16(6), 553-562.
Fosnot, C.T. (1996). Constructivism: A psychological theory of learning. In Constructivism: Theory, perspectives and practice, C.T. Fosnot, ed. New York: Teachers College Press.
Smith, P. L. & Ragan, T. J. (1999). Instructional Design, 2nd ed. New York: John Wiley & Sons Inc.
Sprinthall, N.A. & Thies Sprinthall, L. (1983). The need for theoretical frameworks in educating teachers: A cognitive developmental process. In K. Howey and W. Garner (Eds.), Education of teachers: A look ahead, (pp.74-97). New York: Longman.