Lessons learned: Reflections on training student tutors

Chantal Beukes, Suzaan Maree

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


    As an academic institution that is still in its early phases of organisational growth, Monash University, South Africa does not have a pool of postgraduate students that can be utilised for teaching assistance in units with large groups of students. This necessitated the selection of high-calibre honours candidates and third-year students that could be trained to become tutors. The tutor training, upon which this study is based, originated from a practical need that arose within the context of teaching at a small higher education institution. The researchers developed the training with the intention of providing the necessary skills enhancement needed for tutors to conduct successful tutorials. Due to the novelty of this endeavour, the research questions emerged with the formulation of the original content of the training course. There were three main research questions. Firstly, to verify whether the topics covered in the training did in fact provide the requisite real-world knowledge and skills development. Secondly, to evaluate the quality of the training that was provided. Thirdly, to ascertain other gaps in knowledge and skill that exist and that need to be addressed. A mixed methodological approach was followed in this study. Action research and group-administered questionnaires were utilised. Action research was used both in the data collection and in the data analysis phases. Group-administered questionnaires facilitated data triangulation to enhance the validity of the research findings. The research method utilised in this study to evaluate the efficacy of the training and to identify further training needs, presented a unique opportunity for reflective practice. The content of the training was set up to address needs identified by the researchers, based on their own teaching and tutoring experiences. To ensure continuous improvement and efficacy, the content was refined once the participants were given an opportunity to provide feedback. The researchers reflected on what transpired in each training session and developed new insights into potential gaps that needed filling. The participants responded positively to the unique learning situation that was created and felt that the training equipped them with the basic skills they needed as novice tutors. The researchers found that reflective practice effectively enabled the participants to identify the individual value gained from the learning experience
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)29 - 38
    Number of pages10
    JournalContemporary Issues in Education Research
    Issue number9
    Publication statusPublished - 2011

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