Hi Rebecca,
I think your tutors are fortunate to have someone as thoughtful as you working on developing a useful feedback system for them.

One question I think you need to ask is whether your tutors can actually learn what they need to improve from the assessments they will have access to. This raises questions not only about the instrument (the questions or items on your evaluation form), but also about the students themselves (are they in a position to provide the kind of feedback on tutoring that you want your tutors to receive), and how equipped the tutors are to take-in and take-up the feedback they receive. You are considering explicitly in your message this third question. A common critique of course/faculty evaluations relates to the second question, with some saying students are not very good judges of teaching. In my opinion the second and third issues rest on the first. When our survey items are crafted in ways that students (tutees) can provide informed, reliable and unique information that is useful to tutors without evoking strong emotional reactions, then this system of evaluation can work. In fact, conventional systems of evaluation rests on these assumptionsóthough oftentimes they are not met. I canít tell you how often faculty and TAís (and yours truly) have focused on that one scathing evaluation to the extent that it distorted the impact of the evaluation itself. This is a real and common outcome and should not be dismissed in my opinion. 

One way I account for these considerations is to ask students questions about THEIR experience not tutoring per se. One might ask a tutee a variety of questions that get at their motivation, confidence, engagement, etc. as a result of receiving tutoring. For example you might ask to what extent they felt better equipped to make sense of the next class session as a result of the tutoring session (assuming that is a goal of your tutoring program). We might ask whether students felt more motivated to tackle the course and if, in fact, they did so as a result of tutoring. Only students can answer questions about their motivations and the work they put in outside of class and tutoring.  

There is, also, a deeply thought-out rationale for NOT providing feedback to individuals in an organization. If you are familiar with the ďContinuous Improvement ProcessĒ associated with, most often, Edward Demming, he did not advocate evaluating individual workers in an organization. But, rather, examining how well your program goals are met by your team. After all, tutorsí performance is a reflection of the effectiveness of our training and is judged in light of our goals and objectives and maybe even in relation to their fellow tutors (e.g. If itís a drop in model and some tutors avoid working with less-prepared tutors, then their performance may be rated hire as a result). Our tutor programs are being evaluated implicitly when we explicitly evaluate tutors or tutoring. I prefer this kind of assessment (and conduct it), but my learning consultants (academic coaches) want individualized feedback and I see the benefit and so now they receive that, too. But, itís not a simple question of how or even whether to provide this kind of feedback. 

I imagine you will get rather different perspectives from others on the list which should help you make your decision.

Best,
Nic





Dominic (Nic) J. Voge  || Senior Associate Director
McGraw Center for Teaching & Learning ||  Princeton University
328 Frist Center
(609)258-6921  || https://mcgraw.princeton.edu/undergraduates



Life Beyond Grades: Designing College Courses to Promote Intrinsic Motivation

 www.Cambridge.org/9780521805230




From: Open Forum for Learning Assistance Professionals <[log in to unmask]> on behalf of "Lemmel, Rebecca" <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To: Open Forum for Learning Assistance Professionals <[log in to unmask]>
Date: Thursday, December 14, 2017 at 12:44 PM
To: "[log in to unmask]" <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: providing tutee feedback to tutors

Hi,

 

We survey our tutees about their experience with their tutor each semester and I typically compile a really brief summary of the results to send to each tutor through email.  The tutors keep asking for the actual results of the survey and more specific feedback so they can improve, but Iím concerned about providing them the survey results without context.  I know that if one tutee responded with something negative, even if they have tons of positive feedback, they will focus on the negative and be concerned that they will get in trouble. They are so used to being great, that any negative feedback will really throw them for a spin.  Iím only one person with ~90 tutors, so I canít meet with them individually to give them feedback.  Does anyone out there have a similar situation and can share how you give helpful feedback without it being too time consuming? Maybe Iím protecting them too muchÖ please call me out on it if you think so!

 

Thanks,

Rebecca

 

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