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Principles of Tutoring

In tutoring, tutors can employ various instructional techniques but according to Martha Campbell Polson, author of
Foundations of Intelligent Tutoring Systems, tutorial interactions must exhibit three characteristics:

1.) Must exercise some control over the selection and sequencing of material to be presented.

2.) Must be able to respond to student's questions about the subject matter.

3.) Must be able to determine when students need help in the course of practicing a skill and what sort of help is needed.

Tutoring entails tailoring the selection, sequencing, and methods of delivering instruction to meet the needs of the tutee. The problem of developing curricula and instruction for tutoring is therefore, in selecting and sequencing material and methods for presenting the material.

Campbell states that "most approaches to instruction are based on an unspoken "blank slate" assumption. Thus, those students who cannot perform a particular task are viewd as lacking the skill or missing the fact. Although this may be true in some cases, there may well be others in which students possess all the wrong skills or all too much knowledge.

There are various instructional tools used by tutors. Some tutors prefer teaching their students through a body of factual knowledge and the skills required to draw what is called "first-order inferences" from that knowledge, relying so much on declarative knowledge. Tutors who uses this kind of instructional tool are called expository tutors. Their primary concern is on the factual knowledge and inferential skills.

Some tutors, on the other hand, teach skills and procedures. Tutors of this genre are concerned with the procedures that operate on memory. They are called procedure tutors. As a result, they function much more like coaches. "They present examples to exhibit problem-solving skills, and they pose exercises for purposes of testing practice," (Foundations of Intelligent Tutoring Systems, 83).

The most common strategy of automated tutors is to adopt an expert model as the representation of material to be taught. This kind of strategy may be the most appropriate. The differences between the expository and procedure tutoring is that the former uses problems to maintain focus and coherence while the procedure tutors uses additional problems to reflect order.

It is essential to note that one should look more to the overall goal of curriculum construction than to principles for design in some situations. Curricula for tutoring should divide the material to be learned into manageable units. It should sequence the material in a way that conveys its structure to students (89). A curriculum should make sure instructional goals are achievable. And lastly, tutors should have mechanisms for evaluating the student to instruction on a moment-to-moment basis and for reformulating the curriculum.

Tutoring is an opportunity to break into a student's ongoing learning activities. Thus control is very important to maintain to protect a student from inappropriate or incorrect learning. When a tutor decides to intervene he must also formulate the content of intervention. There is no uniform approach to intervention but the most obvious technique is directly correcting the problem that caused the intervention. Tutorial advice should be responsive not only to the student's particular difficulty but also to the student's level of sophistication in the task.

Coach attempts to locate the particular scheme where the problem arose, a neophyte should receive suggestions of a relatively close nature. A more sophisticated student making the error should receive advice of a more detailed nature.


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