Talking about our work at the Rollins College Student Resource Center, Florida, USA

Archive for March, 2009

tutor staff meeting April 1st @5:30

It’s time (actually past time) for another staff meeting.  We’ll meet on April Fools’ Day at 5:30 (no foolin’!  We ARE meeting!) to talk about these things:
Stats from the past…  and from this semester… This will help you new tutors who have to write about this in your journal #3, and is always interesting to see…your department, fall vs. spring, year vs. year, etc..  Remember that there’s a presentation board by the elevator with lots of Excel chart summaries.
Your CRLA levels of certification (hours of tutor training plus hours of tutoring).  Levels I, II, and III (normal, advanced and master). To be finalized at the end of term… but this will give you some sense of where you are.
Personality indicators and tutoring… What are YOU?  I’m an I/E NTP, but not so extreme.  New tutors are assessing themselves on the MyType app. in Facebook and then writing about it for journal #2.  Some have already gotten comments, written in that MBTI code. I want to make sure everyone knows how to go about this, so we’ll spend just a bit of time on this in the meeting.  (See the blog for Keith Rands and my post about our types and tutoring.)
Recruiting for next year, and a revised tutor application: I’m revising the tutor application and need your input on the near final draft…  Your future colleagues and/or replacements will be filling that one out, so your feedback is important.  I also want to make sure I’m right about who’s staying and who’s leaving.
Leadership opportunities for next academic year: Student Assistants in each of the specialty areas: We’ve been given the go-ahead to have a student assistant to help me with training and meetings and some supervision in the four specialties  (quantitative, science, foreign language, and intensive reading and writing).  This will entail an extra 3 hours or so every week, and lots of communication with me and with professors and of course, with fellow tutors in that specialty. I’ll bring a draft of the job description and application.
Adding some other principles to our training and practice as peer tutors:
Educating for personal and social responsibility, and what this means.  There are five dimensions:
  1. striving for excellence
  2. cultivating personal and academic integrity
  3. contributing to a larger community
  4. taking seriously the perspective of others
  5. developing competence in ethical and moral reasoning and action
Those of us who train and supervise you all (in academic and student affairs) have been working on how these can be generalized among all of you 350+ peer educators on campus.  But more important (and what I would like your ideas about) is applying these dimensions to our work in content tutoring: how you tutors can (and already do) reach the top levels of these dimensions, and how far along you can expect to bring your fellow students.
Anything else?  See you then!  Come hungry~
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Susie’s Type… middle-ish

So my MyType shows me to be not straying too far from that central point on the four scales:

I–Introvert 13% (other assessment show me somewhat E–extrovert)  (see below)

N–iNtuitive 3%  “Your secondary mode is iNternal, where you deal with things according to how you feel about them, or how they fit in with your personal value system.”  … or almost S–Sensing “Your secondary mode is external, where you take things in via your five sense in a literal, concrete fashion.” (quotes from MyType)

T–Thinking 13%

P–Perceiving 14%   “perceiving types prefer to ‘keep decisions open.'” (Wikipedia)

“…may be prone to abandoning a project once they have figured it out, moving on to the next thing.”

“They approach problems and theories with enthusiasm and skepticism, ignoring existing rules and opinions and defining their own approach to the resolution…They hate to work on routine things – they would much prefer to build complex theoretical solutions, and leave the implementation of the system to others.”  (MyType)

Extrovert vs. Introvert

(from Wikipedia) The terms extravert and introvert are used in a special sense when discussing the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. People who prefer extraversion draw energy from action: they tend to act, then reflect, then act further. If they are inactive, their level of energy and motivation tends to decline. Conversely, those whose prefer introversion become less energized as they act: they prefer to reflect, then act, then reflect again. People who prefer introversion need time out to reflect in order to rebuild energy. The extravert’s flow is directed outward toward people and objects, and the introvert’s is directed inward toward concepts and ideas. There are several contrasting characteristics between extraverts and introverts: extraverts are action-oriented and desire breadth, while introverts are thought-oriented and seek depth. Extraverts often prefer more frequent interaction, while introverts prefer more substantial interaction.

hmmmm… So what do these have to do with tutoring? I think extroverts might be more prone to come to tutoring?  They like to think out loud?    And putting their ideas out there with a tutor in tow gives them the chance to think…since they have to say/write something before they know what they think/know.   Thinking out loud is taken for granted by extroverts.

Introverts might want to revise and edit their ideas before saying them out loud, and since I’m somewhat introverted, I like it when someone tells me that what they’re saying is just a draft,  a brainstorm, not their final answer.  Seems to me that we want our student clients to do a lot of thinking out loud, and some introverts might resist that.  And some introvert tutors might not model the thinking out loud as well as an extroverted one.  They also might let their clients talk more, though.

Here’s something from the VARK website FAQ about the VARK, the MBTI and other assessments:

What about VARK and Myers-Briggs, Kolb and Multiple Intelligences?

VARK is about preferences which are a part of the Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator and VARK is structured specifically to improve learning and teaching. David Kolb’s Experiential Cycle is a model of cognitive processing – how we process learning in the brain whereas VARK is about our preferences for taking information into the brain and communicating them “outside”. Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences Theory is another cognitive model and it includes some of the VARK modalities as “intelligences” and extends that list to at least five other dimensions. Sometimes the link between VARK and these theories appears to be quite strong but VARK has its own focus, rationale and strategies.

Personality Assessment

Results from Mypersonality:

ESTP- Promoter

Extroverted (100%), Sensing (12%), Thinking (26%), Perceiving (14%)

When reading the description of what they thought my personality is like, I was amazed at how dead on it was. The overreigning characteristic of a Promoter is that they are the reagents that make things happen. I feel that this connects with who I am so much. I feel like that person that makes life fun in every situation…which allows for a swift movement into intense work. It also gave three words that I feel describe me to a T: Charming, popular, confident. These words are the essence of my being. In every situation I encounter, I exemplify these characterists. By using my charming side, I can grab the attension in the room and make the focus about the matter at hand. Since I’m a socialight, I can easily persuade people into caring about a particiular topic of interest. In addition, because I’m so conifdent about my subjects, people tend to respect and take what I have to say as an authoritative understanding. In my tutoring, I utilize these tools to put the client at ease. They know that I’m an expert in my field and that I can truly help them understand something they are having problems with. I’ve been told that my aura is what keeps people excited about what I’m talking about. By doing this, my ability to tutor has resulted in my clients performing at a high level in subsequent class periods. I’m able to instill my confidence of the material in the client, so that they feel like experts after our sessions.

Being that promoter in any situation is an invaluable skill– after all, the hardest part of mastering topics is initiating that spark of excitement.

Observations of Tutoring Methods

In my selected studies of Biochemistry, Ashleigh’s approach to tutoring really connects with me. Like Ashleigh, I tend to have the client look at the big picture first. This allows for the client to begin to really think about the material. Then, I probe the student with questions to see where their strengths and weaknesses are. Based on that, I have the student provide detailed narratives on material to have them go past the superficial knowledge, using supplement figures if nessecary. This allows for the student to take control of their learning while I guide them in the most helpful direction. Ashleigh seemed to do this quite nicely, especially ending with the comforting of the student. Student’s tend to struggle with my subject matter, and it’s always helpful to let them know that I’m here to support them for the whole way through.

In addition, Margaux also has a good method to helping clients. Again, she probes the student with questions to encourage speed on the GMAT questions. This means that she assessed the situation and planned a way to directly impact the student on the students needs. She also makes sure that the student realizes the important questions to ask themselves on different types of problems–a great tool to ensure the client understands. She fosters this by initially leading the student in the problems and allowing them to do most of the thinking. Finally, I find that having the students think out loud, you can catch if the student is having a particular problem with something. All great methods to help the client in their learning process.

Finally, Omar utilizes different tools to have the client focus on the material. He has the student read what they have wrote in order to have the student realize mistakes. By asking the student to justify why certain things are in the paper, he really makes the client think if that particular piece of information is relevant. Based on this, he uses examples of how to change that writing to make it more  clear. This method allows the client to physically see different ways to correct mistakes so that future questions can be referenced back to that example. This encourages the client to take control of their paper by using tools that have already been worked on.

Collectively, I’d have to say that these tutors did a great job getting the client active. By probing the student with questions, having the client do most of the thinking, and fostering academic growth, we can hopefully see an improvement in their performance.

Journal 1

            Due to the nature of the class I’m tutoring, most of my tutoring sessions tend to be like Ashleigh’s. In a perfect world, we would have been in every class our clients have been in, and know their material front and back. But from time to time a student comes in for help with a paper-or studying for a test-where they know the content better than their tutor. What do we do when that happens? Hopefully not send them away—though sometimes it may seem like the easiest solution. I thought Ashleigh did an excellent job stepping back from the content and focusing on the student’s learning strategies. While they couldn’t review to bulk of the material in their session, Ashleigh was able to give the student the tools she needed to study for her test. Surely the student would have benefited from a tutor who had taken the course before; but the time spent in her session was not wasted. I would feel completely out of my element trying to help someone review content I was not familiar with; but there are other parts to our job than just going over content. Focusing on those is still an effective way to spend a session, and clients will still be better off for the time spent with you.

            I think that everyone can relate to clients such as the one Julia had to tutor. We can tell our clients to come to our sessions prepared until the cows come home, but some of them still will not get the memo. There’s only so much work that can be done with a book and a reluctant client. Notes and other study tools are the best way for us to discern how to use our sessions in the most effective way. Without them, it is much harder to gather a clear picture of the student’s learning style. Additionally, there’s no way for us to see what outside materials the professor is bringing in. It is highly likely that the students in these sessions are there for us to do their work for them—and sometimes they get away with it like Julia’s did. And while Julia came up with excellent strategies after the session was over, it’s much harder to do so mid-session. I think the best way to deal with these types of clients is to stay aware of how much work you end up doing. If a client remains disengaged throughout the entire session, then you have to change some things up. Finding a non-confrontational way to send the message, “I’m not going to do your work” is tough; but preventing a tutoring session where the student takes advantage of you is well worth the effort.

Journal #1

After reading the french tutoring session with Omar, I believe he did apply the good method to adapt to the client.  Indeed it does not seem like an easy case, and even though i have not started yet i can imagine myself facing that situation, and i think i would probably panick a little after giving a glance at the paper. I believe online translators are the worst thing you could do, it might be helpful for one word or two, if you do not have a diccionary within reach, but after it is literal transition that makes no sense. “La méthode” seems like the best way to proceed in this case, even though i am impressed cause i could not write upside down! Maybe read upside down, but even then i would quickly get tired! I find the reading out loud part essential too, because many people seem to be stressed by having to read out loud especially if they have to read their own paper. By having helped a few people around me i saw that most of the time people try to work with intuition, however grammar does not work like that and the first step is learning the grammar rules and then put them into application, but not trying to guess or make up their own rule…
In the end, i believe that in the foreign language study you will rarely have two clients very similar, and you have to adapt to their needs and situate their weaknesses quickly.

Journal 1 Whitney Wallingford

I feel that I connected most with Margaret’s observation.  In dealing with papers, I have a hard time providing the student with an evaluation sheet with plenty of details.  Most of the time, I go through a paper and make notes in the margins, discuss the flow by drawing arrows, making connections.  I wonder how she is able to skillfully go through a (most times very long) paper, dealing with talking and flushing out ideas, while at the same time, provide extensive tutoring notes.  She must be able to do two things at once!

In terms of recognizing the overall strength (or lack thereof) I certainly identified with this aspect of Margarets observation as well.  There have been a few papers come my way that have been rather off base.  It was a bit of a delicate situation because the student knew what they were talking about, however her angle did not fit in the context of the assignment.  I had to diplomatically praise her for making the connection, but then enlighten her how this approach did not work… essentially a “well yes, but no” scenario that required her to restructure her paper quite a bit (and it was due the next day).    

The second observation that I identified most with was Robs.  Trying to get students to be more active is a difficult task, certainly depending on the student.  I find it a bit difficult to activate the mind of one student who has returned to me, especially when that student had not read the material, which he clearly hadn’t. I like  the suggestions as to how to make the client more active and I plan on trying them out. 

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