Nurturing Undergraduate Tutors' Role in the University Teaching Community

May. 20, 2009

Source: Mentoring and Tutoring: Partnership in Learning, Volume 17, Issue 2,
pages 147 - 164 (May 2009).

University students often serve as tutors who supplement the lecture-based teaching of permanent academic staff. However, potential issues arise when student tutors are employed with similar expectations of expertise and experience as the industry professionals and permanent staff they teach alongside.
Arguably, successful and sustainable communities allow newcomers to participate on the periphery of the community before having to take on the responsibilities of more experienced community members. With this in mind, the researcher examined the experiences of student tutors, on the periphery of the university teaching community, and reports on the support they need.
As the findings indicate, 'legitimate peripheral participation' (Lave & Wenger, 1991, p. 29) for student tutors is best encouraged through sufficient and systematic support from full members of the university teaching community. Faculty and administrators should recognize student tutors' lack of pedagogical and subject expertise, while harnessing and nurturing their energy, understanding, and closeness to the undergraduate student experience.

Lave, J., & Wenger, E. (1991). Situated learning: Legitimate peripheral participation. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Updated: Jun. 24, 2009