The role of a tutoring programme in a first-year English course : student and tutor perceptions

Roodt, Jolette (2013-12)

Thesis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2013.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Over the last two decades, the deteriorating academic performance of first-year university students has led to the implementation of teaching and learning interventions, such as tutorial programmes, in various subjects at universities world-wide, including in South Africa. The changing nature of higher education has also led to the incorporation of more student-centred teaching approaches (such as tutorials) along with the traditional teacher-centred approaches (such as lectures). Consequently, tutorial programmes have become the topic of many research projects aimed at describing the function or operation of these programmes, or assessing their efficacy. As a compulsory or potentially compulsory subject for at least seven courses in three faculties at Stellenbosch University, English 178 has one of the highest annual student intakes at the institution. Considering the important role the subject is generally perceived to play in equipping all manner of students for the professional environment, it was imperative that the English 178 course’s primary learning intervention – its tutorial programme – be thoroughly evaluated in order to ensure its usefulness and the accomplishment of its purposes. This study investigated the role of tutors in the achievement of the English 178 course outcomes as perceived by students and tutors respectively. A combination of qualitative and quantitative research methods were employed to effect this assessment. The study found that when students arrive at English 178, they are underprepared for academic writing. According to the results, the course then equips students for the more basic aspects of this skill, such as formulating and developing an argument, and structuring an academic essay. However, advanced skills such as independent research and referencing are still problematic for many students by the end of English 178. In supporting students to acquire these academic skills, tutors have four roles, according to student and tutor perceptions: expositor, chairperson, teacher, and scaffolder. Based on these results, the English 178 course can be seen as an example of facilitated textual enquiry (FTE), a teaching and learning model introduced by this study, which constitutes a selective application of problem-based learning (PBL) principles to literary studies. FTE entails the scaffolded, partially-guided instruction of close reading, critical thinking and academic writing skills by a tutor-facilitator. The study posits that this type of model is indispensable in the achievement of course outcomes in the 21st-century academic landscape.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: In die afgelope twee dekades het eerstejaar-universiteitstudente se verswakkende akademiese prestasie gelei tot die implementering van onderrig- en leerintervensies, soos tutoriaalprogramme, in verskeie vakke aan universiteite wêreldwyd, insluitend in Suid-Afrika. Die veranderende aard van hoër opvoeding het ook gelei tot die inlywing van meer studentgesentreerde onderrigbenaderings (soos tutoriale) by tradisionele dosentgesentreerde benaderings (soos lesings). Gevolglik het tutoriaalprogramme die onderwerp van vele navorsingsprojekte geword wat daarop gemik is om die funksie of werking van hierdie programme te beskryf, of die doeltreffendheid daarvan te assesseer. As ’n verpligte of potensieel verpligte vak vir ten minste sewe kursusse in drie fakulteite by die Universiteit Stellenbosch het Engels 178 een van die hoogste jaarlikse studente-innames aan die instelling. Gegewe die belangrike rol wat die vak volgens algemene persepsie speel in die toerusting van allerlei studente vir die professionele omgewing, was dit noodsaaklik dat die Engels 178-kursus se primêre leerintervensie – die tutoriaalprogram – deeglik geëvalueer word om die dienstigheid en die vervulling van die doelwitte daarvan te verseker. Hierdie studie het die rol van tutors in die bereiking van die Engels 178-kursusuitkomste ondersoek vanuit die oogpunt van onderskeidelik studente en tutors. ’n Kombinasie van kwalitatiewe en kwantitatiewe navorsingsmetodes is gebruik om hierdie assessering te doen. Die studie het gevind dat wanneer studente by Engels 178 aankom, hulle ondervoorbereid is vir akademiese skryf. Volgens die resultate rus die kursus hulle dan toe vir die meer basiese aspekte van hierdie vaardigheid, soos om ’n argument te formuleer en ontwikkel, en om ’n akademiese opstel te struktureer. Gevorderde vaardighede, soos onafhanklike navorsing en verwysings, is egter teen die einde van Engels 178 steeds vir baie studente problematies. Wanneer tutors studente ondersteun om hierdie akademiese vaardighede aan te leer, het hulle volgens studente en tutors se persepsies vier rolle: uitlêer (expositor), voorsitter (chairperson), leermeester (teacher), en steieraar (scaffolder). Gegrond op hierdie resultate kan die Engels 178-kursus gesien word as ’n voorbeeld van gefasiliteerde tekstuele ondersoek (facilitated textual enquiry of FTE), ’n onderrig- en leermodel wat deur hierdie studie bekendgestel word en wat bestaan uit ’n selektiewe toepassing van probleemgebaseerde leerbeginsels op letterkundestudie. FTE behels die gesteierde (scaffolded), gedeeltelik geleide onderrig van stiplees (close reading), kritiese denke en akademiese skryfvaardighede deur ’n tutor-fasiliteerder. Die studie voer aan dat hierdie soort model onontbeerlik is in die bereiking van kursusuitkomste in die 21ste-eeuse akademiese landskap.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/85815
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