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Communicating Advice

Peer Tutoring and Communication Practice

Edited By Wendy Atkins-Sayre and Eunkyong L. Yook

Although competent peer tutoring depends heavily on knowledge within the particular discipline, there is certainly more to the process than subject knowledge alone. One of the most important components of tutoring in any academic area is effective communication. Research in the area of communication studies is relevant to all areas of tutoring, but is often only a minor component of peer tutoring training. This book brings together tutoring center experts and communication experts to provide research-based advice for training peer and near-peer tutors. With a broad audience in mind, these experts translate research from the fields of communication and pedagogy into advice that can be used for tutoring in any field. Peer tutoring centers or pedagogy courses in any discipline will find this book to be an effective discussion tool for encouraging tutors to consider the importance of how they communicate their advice to students.
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Foreword: Communication and Peer Tutoring Christopher Bell and Sherwyn Morreale


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Communication and Peer Tutoring

Christopher Bell and Sherwyn Morreale

At the collegiate level, the value of peer tutoring, both for the tutor and the tutee, cannot be overstated. Colvin (2007) broadly states that “peers are often considered the most powerful influence in undergraduate education, even more so than advisors and instructors” (p. 166). It takes time to enact real learning; critical foundational matter must be understood in order to build more advanced concepts. Tutoring, particularly peer tutoring, can supplement an instructor’s capacity to assist student learning at various stages along the way. Peer tutoring provides an opportunity for students of different skill levels to come together to learn course material—a valuable enterprise for both sides of the tutoring equation. The student being tutored is given a chance to learn from someone who may use different language, examples, or instructional methods than the professor. As a result, the material may “click” for the tutee in a new way. The student doing the tutoring strengthens his/her own grasp of the concepts and reinforces her/his knowledge of key principles by explaining them to someone else. Far beyond the amorphous “learning leadership skills,” this exchange may not only help the tutor retain important information, it also can reveal gaps in the tutor’s knowledge that need to be shored up. Topping (1996) reminds us that “Just preparing to be a peer tutor has been proposed to enhance cognitive processing in the tutor—by increasing...

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