Cat with green eyes looking up while sitting on a green wooden bench.

Working through SoTL questions

Continuing my quest to complete the Ontario Extend Scholar module, I am adding my responses to SoTL research planning questions here:

Plan for a Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Project

Research Question(s)

  1. How can I increase the number of tutors who use a modelling approach when tutoring students in Math.
  2. Will adjusting the present Strategic Instruction Model (SIM) model to Model-Coach-Fade (MCF) increase tutors’ understanding of the approach?
  3. Will adding a role modeling exercise during training increase tutors’ comfort levels with approach?

Identify challenge/outcome related to learning that is related to your question.

  • Using the survey method, poll tutors in the Spring Semester on their usage of the current SIM model to develop a baseline for tutor usage of the approach.
  • During the initial Fall Tutor Training sessions, present MCF using an exercise/practice session where tutors use the model with another tutor and experience being tutored with the model by another tutor.
  • Using the survey method, poll tutors two weeks and six weeks after training on their usage of MCF.
  • Experienced tutors who would have received training on both models will be asked an additional question regarding whether MCF was easier to understand than SIM.

Ethical considerations: tutors may choose to participate in the surveys and will be informed of the study and its purpose. If results are published in any way, prior approval by Administration and Research Ethics Committee is required. If results are not published, only Administrative approval is required. The role of tutors is considered an employee role but given that 95% of tutors are also enrolled full-time students and the study examines a portion of training, tutors should be treated as students in terms of ethics considerations.

Describe the instructional activity, assignment, or teaching strategy that will promote student learning on the outcome you identified.

The current approach to presenting SIM is to provide tutors step by step information through the Tutor Manual and to lecture on the model in face-to-face training with a faculty member who also demonstrated one problem set.

The new approach will be to present MCF information both in the manual and with a short, portable handout. In face-to-face training with a faculty member will include a short explanation and demonstration of MCF, a discussion of how using MCF will increase student independence, and an exercise where tutors will work with MCF as both a tutor and a tutee followed by a discussion of the experience.

Describe the evidence that would persuade an external audience that the new or modified teaching strategy improves student learning on the targeted learning outcome.

The results of the first survey would constitute the baseline of usage for SIM. The results of the two-week and six-week usage rates would be compared to the baseline to determine if usage rates increased.

Limitations: There is a concern that a positive increase in usage of MCF may only be because of observer effect. There is also a limitation in terms of sample size as the Spring cohort of tutors would be drawn from a pool of 30 tutors and tutors could be chosen by their willingness to participate. The pool of tutors for the Fall semester will be approximately 100 tutors and the sample would be created based on tutors’ willingness to participate. Because of this, it would be unlikely that the results could be generalized to other populations.

How and where would you publish, present, or disseminate this work?

As this project is intended as a professional development exercise, I would be requesting permission to publish the results on my personal blog.

Questions adapted from: C. J. Stanny, E. M. El-Sheikh, & H-M. Chung (2009) Getting Started with an SoTL Project Center for University Teaching, Learning, and Assessment

Featured Image & Disclaimer: If you are not involved in Ontario Extend, you may find this blog post very boring so I have added a cool picture of a cat to distract you! Photo by Federica Diliberto on Unsplash


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Irene Stewart

Learning and teaching is my passion; books, coffee and cats are my pleasure. Life is like a 3-D chess game I am playing in my head with the universe. So far, I am winning!

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