Tutor training for service learning: impact on self-efficacy beliefs

March 2019

Source: Mentoring & Tutoring: Partnership in Learning, 27:1, 26-43
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

This study was specifically focused on the outcomes of an integrated set of tutoring workshops in a Social Foundations of Multicultural Education (SFME) course.
The primary SFME course content addressed general socio-cultural issues.
In addition, the SFME course meets the campus requirement for an upper-division, service learning course, which includes outcomes addressing: self and social awareness, service and social responsibility, community and social justices, and multicultural community building/civic engagement.
Tutoring workshops were recently added to the course curriculum to provide preservice teachers with additional knowledge to prepare them for teaching in the classroom, and enhance their effectiveness as tutors.
The specific focus of the research was investigating how the combination of tutoring workshops and in-school application of the tutoring knowledge contribute to preservice teachers’ fundamental pedagogical and content knowledge.
In the present study, the researcher also focused on whether the preservice teachers enrolled in a SFME course with service learning demonstrated an increase in teaching self-efficacy upon completing the course and associated service learning hours.

Research questions
There were two research questions included in this study:

(1) Do tutoring workshops in combination with the site experience increase preservice teachers’ self-efficacy?

(2) Do the pre-professional tutoring workshops increase preservice teachers’ pedagogical skills and conceptual understanding?

The present study is a first step in gauging that effectiveness.
The pretest and posttest surveys were designed by the researcher to measure whether the preservice teacher would demonstrate gains in skills knowledge and concept familiarity reflective of the tutor training curricular scope and sequence.

The author notes that additionally, the tutor training and in-school service learning experience represent the early field experience in the undergraduate teacher education curriculum, so it should also be designed to scaffold preservice teacher’s abilities as they progress in the pursuit of a credential.
A well-calibrated teacher education curriculum and learning experience, in addition to building content knowledge, can provide the opportunity for mastery experiences that lead to positive teaching self-efficacy beliefs and the benefits they accrue.
Consequently, the current study also included a measure for teaching self-efficacy beliefs in the pretest and posttest survey to assess the impact of the tutor training and application experience, i.e. whether the tutor training and service were an effective combination in supporting growth in future educators.
Over the course of a year, 113 preservice teachers enrolled in one of four sections of a Social Foundations of Multicultural Education (SFME) course (two courses per semester) completed a survey early in the semester before the tutoring workshop and at the end of the semester when service learning hours were completed.

Results and Discussion
The author reports that in this study, preservice teachers, provided with a site-specific tutor training for their field experience, benefited in terms of increased pedagogical knowledge.
The embedded tutoring workshops for the SFME course were designed to provide the future educators with a set of fundamental skills and knowledge for tutoring the students and calibrated to benefit preservice teachers in their early development as informed educators.
Because these fundamental techniques and concepts are also more broadly applicable to the act of teaching, the workshops served as early professional development.
Further, the workshop curriculum was designed in collaboration with the partner school, which frontloaded the learning experience with content that was specifically applicable to the field placement site.
The implementation of site-specific practices during the tutoring, e.g. conducting DIBELS testing, also added professional value to the content as the preservice teachers could see themselves mirroring the work of the classroom teachers.
The design of the tutoring workshops, in conjunction with the experience of applying that content, was successful in advancing preservice teacher’s preparation to become better educators.
The author also notes that participants in the current study also demonstrated advances in teaching self efficacy among the participants, which may serve them as future teachers by improving their teaching confidence and their persistence in the face of future challenges.
Applicable training followed by the opportunity to observe the effects of that training as a result of the preservice teachers’ own efforts creates the conditions for mastery experiences that foster self-efficacy.
Building these experiences over the course of a semester then supports the preservice teachers’ own beliefs in their capabilities as teachers, which is consistent that gains in teaching self-efficacy are the outcome of the mastery experiences that the tutors experienced.
Tutors, in these studies, noted differences in the tutees’ growth and credited that growth to their own efforts.
This sense of instructional success then informed their self-efficacy.

The author concludes that currently, the teaching professional requires public school teachers to contend with a variety of external constraints, from highly structured instructional schedules to the demands of high-stakes testing.
Furthermore, even though the university classroom can address these issues conceptually, it does not lend itself to teaching future educators how to practically manage these demands.
What the university classroom can do is provide layered opportunities for preservice teachers to increase their knowledge stores and self efficacy for working with students and their learning needs and to provide a sound pedagogical foundation upon which they can then negotiate the institutional context. 

Updated: Sep. 26, 2019