Monica's distinction between skills expertise and content expertise is
something I'm currently examining in relation to my own program.

As a Learning Skills Center, I view our role as one of assisting students
with skills that are necessary to learn content.  Our expertise is in the
process of learning, not in content per se.  Tutors at the LSC must
demonstrate that they have achieved a level of content expertise.  Our
training supplements that content knowledge with training in learning
strategies and process skills.  In other words, training focuses on
teaching how to learn and not on the content to be learned.  Training
links the process with the content knowledge the trainees already possess.

Recently, one of our departments has indicated that there is to be a
significant change in the curriculum and pedagogy of a developmental level
course for which we provide individual and group tutoring.  The department
has said this change will require tutor training that will be specific to
the new course.  Since our training has been successful in training
students for roles across content areas, this would be a major shift in
our current training approach. It has brought to my mind the question, at
what point is content-driven training the responsiblity of the academic
department or the responsibility of the learning center?

I would appreciate hearing your answers to this question.  By the way, our
program is a student service, not an academic department as a point of

Georgine Materniak
University of Pittsburgh
Learning SKills Center

On Mon, 9 Dec 1996, Monica Bond wrote:

> There are numerous advantages to a peer tutor program, the most obvious
> advantages being reduction in costs associated with tutoring, an increase in
> access (as students tend to solicit help from their peers more often) and
> program flexibility as you have more options when you are  not bound by the
> strings associated with professional employees. The down side is lack of
> availability of the content specialists students need, the necessity to
> institute a rather strong peer tutor training program which provides training
> on a regular basis (helps deal with student turnover) and getting faculty to
> accept peer tutors in some of the more instrusive models like SI, clinics and
> skill based tutoring as opposed to content based tutoring. I find that a
> combination of peer and professional tutors works best for us. We assign
> professionals to SI, clinics, course mentoring and skill based sessions and
> we assign peers to home assignment help, study groups and  student mentoring.
> Our program is more cost effective and diverse to meet the diverse needs of
> our student body. If you want more information, contact our Learning Center
> Manager [log in to unmask] Hope this helps. Monica P. Bond, Dean Curriculum &
> Instruction
> Roxbury Community College
> Boston, MA