Canadian Tutor Standards

Please, join the Conversation about creating a Canadian Tutoring Standard: Discussion Forum 

Some Background Information:  

Lyn Benn, of Kwantlen Polytechnic University's (KPU) Learning Centres, assisted by Alice Macpherson and with the encouragement of a number of other practitioners has started a conversation about developing a Canadian Tutor Standard. Harvey Starkman, School of English and Liberal Studies, Learning Centre, Seneca College and Krista Bianco, Manager SLG Programs, University of Guelph have also been involved.

Material was presented at LSAC National Conference in May and at CACUSS National Conference in June 2015, as well as LSAC Western regional conferences. We started with questions:

  • Why don’t we have our own Canadian standards and an accreditation body for Tutoring?
  • Are Canadian tutor training standards desirable?
  • Why would this be important?
  • What would these look like?
  • What would denote a breakthrough in moving forward with the development of standards?
  • Who would be involved?

Other tutors (e.g. adult literacy tutors) working in the field are also looking for certification to attest to their skills and experience. Is there a common ground or desire for the creation of Canadian tutor training standards?  

Currently, CRLA and NTA in the USA seems to be the major accrediting body that we use as Canadians and there are 14 Canadian Colleges and Universities involved. There are some issues that include, the different legislation between Canada and other countries, as well as, other cultural and regional differences that we have noticed. As Canadians, we have been learning from each other and sharing materials, but there is nothing in place that might assist us with quality assurance. There are varying training options for tutor trainers and we are well aware that Canadian educational systems vary. Some of the methods that have been shared in this conversation already include the categories that various institutions feel are important for Tutors to be well versed in. These include: Topics and hours and reflection; Disability customer service standards; Differing populations; Orientations and expectations; Manuals, workshops, orientations, ongoing support; Writing programs; Broad collection of subjects, train for one day together, breakout sessions; Sessions every two weeks, collecting data on issues to respond; connecting with diverse partners for other expertise. The range of training provided varies from two hours to five days.  

Participants at the conferences this year have identified some of the things that they want to move forward with:

  • We need something tangible
  • More professional – tutoring is a big commitment
  • Balance for the tutors and tutees
  • Certification
  • Unassigned credits
  • Letter of reference and recognition
  • Certificate of appreciation
  • Co-curricular
  • Defined learning outcomes

KPU has been using dual accreditation through CRLA and the NTA. We like CRLA for program certification and the NTA for the levels of tutor certification and our tutors can become members of a larger tutoring (professional) association.     
However, one big issue with the provision of certification through the NTA is the requirement to forward personal student tutor details through to an American organization’s database. Canadian privacy legislation restricts the kind of sharing of information.  

KPU also felt that we needed measurable standards for our Peer Tutors that could be validated within the environment and needs of our four campuses and so developed good practice tutor training modules for three levels and a train the trainer program. There are clear Learning Objectives that encompass the education and activities required to become a Peer Tutor. We have three levels of staged education, training, and experience to support new and continuing Tutors. Each level has:

  1. Foundation Training (6 hours face to face)
  2. Integration Training (online resources) with focused activities, including reflective journaling developing learning materials and session plans.

Tutors are supported throughout.  
There is a well-defined Evaluation process that includes:

  • Self
  • Tutees
  • Supervisors
  • Faculty Mentors

This all results in a clear understanding of what Learning Centre Tutors can do for and with students and what they will not do.  
This is the standard for KPU that can be comprehended and quantified by all stakeholders in the tutoring support process. The following chart outlines the current objectives that we have developed through consultation, analysis, and validation.

KPU Learning Centre Tutor Training Objectives

Matches Topic and Time requirements for CRLA Certification and is aligned with KPU TLC practices.

Level I Objectives for 1 Day Training (6 hours)

  • Identify the Scope of Peer Tutoring in the Learning Centres
  • Define Peer Tutoring Roles and Responsibilities
  • Behave Ethically when Tutoring
  • Analyze Tutoring Situations Where Ethical Choices are Made
  • Plan Tutor Sessions
  • Utilize the Tutoring Cycle
  • Communicate Effectively as a Tutor
  • Use Critical Questioning
  • Define Bloom’s Taxonomy
  • Use Referrals (When You Need Assistance)
  • Identify When to Stop the Tutoring Process

Level II Objectives for 1 Day Training (6 hours)

  • Practice Intercultural Communication
  • Manage Personal Stress
  • Evaluate Tutees’ Needs
  • Use Socratic Questioning to Promote Critical Thinking
  • Tutor in Group Environments
  • Discuss Key Strategies for Academic Success
  • Discuss Ways to Manage Time and Avoid Procrastination
  • Learn with Your Multiple Intelligences
  • Study Smart
  • Master Your Memory
  • Discuss Reading Strategies
  • Identify Note Taking Systems
  • Discuss Ways to Approach Tests and Exams
  • Manage Difficult Tutoring Situations

Level III Objectives for 1 Day Training (6 hours)

  • Analyze Your Personal Strengths as a Tutor
  • Review Tutor Competencies
  • Analyze Approaches to Tutoring
  • Build Tutoring Relationships Based on Trust and Expertise
  • Analyze Difficult Tutoring Situations
  • Consider Portfolio Thinking
  • Identify Information for Inclusion in a Tutoring Portfolio
  • Develop a Personal Tutoring Philosophy
  • Create a Personal Tutoring Portfolio

Level I integration exercises using online resources (6 hours)

  • Follow Learning Centres Procedures
  • Begin Tutor Certification Process
  • Complete LASSI (learning and study skills inventory) and Debrief with a Learning Strategist
  • Create Reflective Journal Entries on Tutoring Practices
  • Integrate Adult Learning Basics into Tutoring
  • Discuss Issues of Copyright (including Fair Dealing)
  • Practise Academic Integrity
  • Set a Professional and Welcoming Environment
  • Shadow Tutoring Sessions
  • Plan Sessions and Document the Tutor Processes
  • Self Evaluate, Receive Tutee and Other Feedback, Create Tutoring Goals

Level II integration exercises using online resources (6 hours)

  • Follow Learning Centres Procedures
  • Continue Tutor Certification Process
  • Complete TESAT (tutor evaluation and self-assessment tool) and Debrief with a Learning Strategist
  • Discuss Tutor’s Legal Responsibilities for FIPPA, Human Rights and Harassment Issues
  • Discuss Issues of Academic Honesty (Cheating & Plagiarism)
  • Analyze Tutor Ethics in Action
  • Revise Sessions and Document the Tutor Processes
  • Utilize Presentation Skills (use scripts for class visits)
  • Create Reflective Journal Entries on Tutoring Practices
  • Self Evaluate, Receive Tutee and Other Feedback, Create Semester Goals

Level III integration exercises using online resources (6 hours)

  • Follow Learning Centres Procedures
  • Complete TESAT (2) and Debrief with a Learning Strategist
  • Create Supplemental Materials for Tutees
  • Collate Session Plans and Document the Tutor Processes
  • Self Evaluate, Receive Tutee and Other Feedback, Create Future Goals
  • Create Reflective Journal Entries on Tutoring Practices
  • Consolidate a Personal Tutoring Portfolio
  • Complete all Tutor Certification Processes, Create Future Goals
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