Best practices in mathematics tutoring

Patterson, Ellen Gayle
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This paper, "Best Practices in Mathematics Tutoring," will thoroughly present research in effective techniques in mathematics tutoring for college levels and below, and report the results in a qualitative manner through the researcher's perceptions and test results after actual tutoring sessions with a student, interviews with other mathematics tutors; and research in journals, books, articles, and online resources. The paper will also present research on the history of tutoring, with an emphasis on mathematics, the status of the tutoring industry today, the different forms that tutoring can take, and the tutoring currently available at The University of Texas at San Antonio.

The type of qualitative research, or research that is focused on phenomena that occur in natural settings that was followed in this field work, was a case study, where the researcher studied an individual tutee for one month during eight tutoring sessions. After each tutoring session, the researcher coded and categorized the data in order to identify correlations between tutoring techniques used and results achieved. To do this, the researcher devised a checklist of tutoring techniques, which was then tabulated as an audio recording of the tutoring sessions was played back. Results of pre and post tests were also tabulated and correlated with tutoring techniques used.

Scores improved consistently for each of the four sets of pre and post tests administered, even though use of the tutoring techniques varied. While seven tutoring techniques out of 20 dominated the eight tutoring sessions, ten techniques increased in average use per minute from the first four sessions to the last four, with one technique, "checking solution," emerging as a new technique. Because of the individual nature of tutoring, the techniques could have varied depending upon the student's needs, the tutor's choice of methods, and the types of problems worked. The tutoring methods, combined with an attentive and caring attitude on the part of the tutor and student, made for a successful tutoring relationship, as not only did the student improve consistently in her post tests, but she also earned a Commended Score on the Eighth Grade Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) after two sessions, and she showed promise for more achievement in the future.

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