When you ask a tutor whether professional training has improved their effectiveness as a tutor, chances are they will reply in the affirmative, but where is the supporting research? The most impressive statistical data on client/student impact I found comes from the National Study of Developmental Education*, a longitudinal study of 6,000 student transcripts from 160 institutions. Tutoring provided by trained vs. untrained tutors was one of the most statistically significant strategies related to increasing first-semester GPA, cumulative GPA, success in developmental courses, and overall retention.
Another valuable research project was a field study on tutor effectiveness conducted by Dr. Rick Sheets, Ph.D. focusing on 10 campuses in the Phoenix area, with 70 tutors participating. He discovered that tutor training definitively led to more appropriate responses to presented tutoring situations. Interestingly, there was no significant influence based on a tutor’s age, grade point average, educational degrees or the experience acquired during the semester of tutoring.
A third investigation* by Geoffrey K. Bailey, PhD, demonstrates how trained tutors utilize techniques of greater variety and effectiveness when tutoring. The strategies used by untrained tutors with equivalent subject knowledge are often limited and counterproductive. The level of confidence, retention and satisfaction of trained tutors is much higher as well.
At Crossroads of Learning we have collected close to 600 surveys from graduates of our online tutor training programs. They confirm that both peer and professional tutors, whether independent or with academic or commercial providers, report training benefits greater than they had anticipated. Eighty-nine percent (89%) of the more experienced tutors who identified their previous knowledge of tutoring theory and practices as “extensive” or “mastery” reported the university approved training as “somewhat” to “very” helpful. Of these, 11% were certified teachers and 44% had a master’s degree or higher.
I’ve heard some tutors and tutoring providers say that tutor training is a luxury reserved for new tutors, that it is unnecessary for certified teachers or those with advanced degrees or previous tutoring experience. As the above mentioned studies show, research suggests otherwise. Professional or certification training for tutors assures a higher quality outcome in the art and discipline of tutoring, much in the same way that professional development is considered essential to other educational specialists.
* For more information on these studies, send a note to firstname.lastname@example.org for his bulletin on Research Confirming Positive Outcomes of Tutor Training (which includes citations and links to the source studies) or click here to request a copy.[divider top=”0″]
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