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Subject:

Re: Managing group size

From:

"Vanmali, Bina H" <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Open Forum for Learning Assistance Professionals <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Tue, 4 Dec 2007 14:34:19 -0600

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (213 lines)

Hi Michele,

 

I've actually implemented small group tutoring in my area (science) as a
regular practice, and not only for budget reasons.  The latest pedagogy
on student learning focuses around constructivism, which is all about
students creating meanings and understandings based on personal
experiences, many of which are often collaborative.  By implementing
group learning, we just extend what the students do already when they
are away from the Learning Center.  By giving them a tutor to get
started, we give them a map of how studying and learning can and should
occur in groups, rather than letting them figure it out over extended
periods of time on their own.  It leads to more productive group
studying more quickly, both with and without tutors.  Often, we find
that the groups we create within our Learning Center create collegiality
among our tutees and lead to outside collaborations and group studying
outside our walls too.  And sometimes, you even see students pair up to
take more courses together which, as you know, will help both students
succeed long term.  

 

Specific courses where we find groups especially useful include foreign
language courses (after all, you have to speak the language to learn
it), biology, chemistry, physics, some statistics and math, and even
subjects like psychology and philosophy.  Of course, having a skilled
tutor working with groups in any subject area will ideally have equal
success, since the tutor can help promote appropriate learning
strategies.

 

Furthermore, collaborative learning literature says that groups of 3-5
students are optimal for the group to function well and for all students
to contribute and ask questions.  What I'm saying, I guess, is that the
practices you have in place are not necessarily a bad thing--you may
promote good studying habits for all students involved, especially if
the tutors are trained already to work with groups and help promote
those dynamics and skills.  It sounds like that's what your tutors
specialize in.  

 

Your mission is similar to mine, and I'm guessing everyone else on this
list serve.  That is, we all want to help as many students as we can.
And I personally think that what you're doing is promoting student
learning, so you many not necessarily need to worry about the occasional
walk-in student increasing group size.  If the groups are staying at 5
or fewer students, then you're following the latest literature on
effective group learning and should give yourself a pat on the back for
creating a great environment for group learning.

 

That's my paltry two cents anyway...

Bina

 

Bina Vanmali

Learning Resource Specialist/

 Coordinator, Science Tutoring

The Learning Center

U. of Missouri-Columbia

100 Student Success Center

Columbia, MO  65211

 

email: [log in to unmask]

phone: 573.882.4826

fax: 573.884.5579

-----Original Message-----
From: Open Forum for Learning Assistance Professionals
[mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Michele Doney
Sent: Tuesday, December 04, 2007 1:54 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Managing group size

 

Hi all,

 

 

 

For budget reasons, my center does small group instead of individual

tutoring.  We use TutorTrac, and we set the maximum group size at three

students, all of whom must be in the same course.  During peak tutoring

times, things keep happening that cause a group of three to turn into a

group of four or five or more.  In some cases, if a Student A is a
no-show,

we'll let Walk-In Student take her place, only to have Student A turn up
ten

minutes later and join the group.  In other cases, if a tutor is
tutoring

the same course for two sessions in a row, students in the first session

just sort of stick around for the next session.  

 

 

 

I think it's important to limit group size so effective tutoring can
take

place, but I just can't see myself chasing extraneous students out of a

session, or asking my tutors to do so.  Do others run into this
situation?

How do you handle it?

 

 

 

Thanks!  Hope everyone's end-of-semester is going well!

 

 

 

Best,

 

Michele

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Michele Costabile Doney

 

Coordinator, Math and Science Tutoring

 

John Jay College of Criminal Justice

 

646-557-4595    [log in to unmask]

 

 

 

 

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