Dear all,

Regarding faculty recommendations, I'm interested in hearing more from folks who require more than one of these per applicant.  Specifically, if you require more than one, why do you do that, and do you have any evidence that it leads to better hiring decisions and better tutoring?

The reason I ask is that I have just decided to switch from two faculty recommendations to one.  Here's why:  In my previous job, we only required one faculty recommendation (and no content testing).  In nine years of doing it that way, I almost never made a bad hire, and I had plenty of evidence that my center's tutoring was of very high quality.  In my current job, I have so far continued my predecessor's practice of requiring two recommendations, and so far I have never seen two recommendations for a single student that differed in any way that was both meaningful and likely to affect the hiring decision for that applicant.  I asked my staff (who had been doing it this way for a while under the previous director) if they could provide even one example of an applicant for whom the decision to hire or not hinged on the content of the second recommendation.  They could not recall even a single example.  I finally concluded I was creating twice the work for faculty for what appeared to be no good reason, and I was also making it harder for students to complete their applications, especially since so many of the faculty teaching courses we tutor are adjuncts who are often difficult to reach after the semester ends.

Does anybody have evidence that requiring two leads to better hiring decisions and better tutoring than requiring only one and is therefore worth the extra trouble?  I feel confident that I'm making the right decision here, but I'm definitely open to hear evidence to the contrary!


Michele Costabile Doney, M.S.Ed.
Director, Student Academic Consulting Center & Immersion Programs
NCLCA Learning Center Leadership Certification Level Three
Baruch College, CUNY
55 Lexington Avenue, Box B2-116
New York, NY 10010
[log in to unmask]<mailto:[log in to unmask]>

[cid:[log in to unmask]]<>[cid:[log in to unmask]]<>

From: Open Forum for Learning Assistance Professionals <[log in to unmask]> On Behalf Of Debbie Malewicki
Sent: Thursday, November 29, 2018 2:26 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Content-Specific Screening for Hiring Tutors

Hi Katie,

Welcome!  I'm going to respond using the system I developed in my last position as a university director.  Our program is CRLA Levels I, II, and III certified and earned some fantastic results over the years.

I'm a huge fan of a multi-modal approach that includes content testing for core subject areas such as math, English, physics, and chemistry.

Before we hit the interview, I want to see:
- a 3.4 or higher cumulative GPA
- a consistent record of successful learning with an A- or higher in at least two courses in the subject (We accepted a high B for Organic Chemistry II with faculty approval.)
- a letter of reference from two faculty for core subjects or one from each of two faculty for non-core disciplines that can be one per discipline if they want to support multiple
- a thoughtful and reasonably well proofread and articulate cover letter and resume, as well as a good job filling out our standard application and availability form

Students who are invited to interview used to talk with me first, but we found that so many of them failed the content questions that it was a waste of my time.  For students who are supporting core courses, they answer a series of questions from fundamentals through sophomore-level courses. They are able to earn partial credit, and our assessors, who are professional tutors who typically have taught at the University, are clear in their assessments when the student made one error and set off a chain reaction as a result. In other words, they determine if the student followed the right process even if one or two answers are off.

Students who score in about the 90th percentile or higher proceed right to the interview. Students who do not then meet with their assessor to walk through their answers. If they're close to the score we want and the assessor realizes that the applicant quickly caught their own error and ran with it, we move them forward. If not, and their responses are promising, they are given a week or two to study and review key elements that the assessor recommends before retesting. Part of the meeting with the assessor also allows them to play out a bit of a mock tutoring session with the applicant to see how well they are able to explain the material.

Our interview consists of an explanation and overview of the services we offer, how we function as a department with an emphasis on the metacognitive approach, how we focus on concepts and processes without specifically talking about assigned problems, and then gives the candidate the opportunity to sell him or herself if they see themselves as a good fit at that point. The last hour is a series of sample scenarios they may encounter on the job and how they would deal with them.

I do strongly support content testing for core subjects. The reality is that, in my experience, the majority of students and some professionals cannot pass them coming in even if they did well in the class. Being able to earn a good grade by studying material currently in front of you is not the same as proving that you've retained and are able to apply that information a year or two or even three later. For professionals, they may have aced the class years ago as a student but not taught that particular course and need to brush up.

Insofar as tutors for non core courses, I am much more inclined to rely on faculty recommendations because these are typically majors or minors where the student has worked with the same faculty member term after term and the faculty member has often observed how that student interacts with their peers and an ability to provide assistance. It's unusual for me to hire somebody as a tutor in a major or minor unless they've completed at least three semesters at the institution, which has given them the opportunity to come to know faculty pretty well.

English/writing tutors, incidentally, need to review a timed essay written by a student, make notes, prioritize areas of weakness, and then conduct a mock tutoring session that allows me to see that they are not proofreading or editing for the student but able to help the student identify and learn to independently correct their weaknesses and guide the student through developing their own ideas and learning how to document.

Our foci are on creating independence in the learning process and helping the students understand and develop approaches to learning the material that are optimal to them. I know what I'm describing is a long and detailed process, but it generally yields excellent staff who are not only prepared for but often excited about beginning CRLA Level I training when they join us.

Debbie Malewicki, M.A.
Integrity 1st Learning Support Solutions, LLC<>
Email: [log in to unmask]<mailto:[log in to unmask]>
Cell:  (475) 238-5635
Office: (203) 800-4100

On Nov 29, 2018 10:59 AM, Katie Pierce <[log in to unmask]<mailto:[log in to unmask]>> wrote:

Hello all,

I am brand new to this listserv, so I apologize if this question has already been asked. I'm also very new to my position with tutoring services, so I'm hoping for some input regarding a request we've recently had from one of the academic colleges on our campus. They have requested that we work with instructors of courses to create a comprehensive content-specific quiz for each course that potential tutors would need to pass before being hired as a tutor for that course. Our current hiring requirements are that the student must have earned an A or B in the course (taken at our university) and must have an overall 3.0 GPA or better. I am wondering if anyone else screens applicants using a content-specific quiz. If so, I'd be interested to know the logistics of how you make that work. If not, I'd be interested in knowing what requirements you are using to determine if the applicant has a high enough level of content-specific knowledge.

Again, I'm new so I'm not even sure how replying to this message works, so I'll include my email: [log in to unmask]<mailto:[log in to unmask]>

Thank you for your time and consideration!

Katie Pierce

Interim Managing Director

Academic Achievement Center Tutoring Services

Kansas State University

103 Holtz Hall | 785-532-5703

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