Date of Award

Winter 2004

Project Type


Program or Major


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

First Advisor

Sharon Nodie Oja


The two purposes of this study were (1) to investigate the effects on undergraduate peer tutors of taking on the role as tutors (2) to explore what happens in tutors' experience to impact growth. Three research questions investigated changes in tutors' cognitive-structural development, the complexity of their thinking about tutoring, and tutoring practice. The fourth question investigated the mechanisms of change. This study addresses the lack of research about undergraduate college tutors and the ways in which they change as a result of taking on the tutoring role.

The participants were nine undergraduate peer tutors at an urban commuter college who were enrolled in a four-month credit-bearing Tutor Development course based on the Teaching and Learning Framework.

Three measures were used to assess changes in the cognitive and moral domains: the Paragraph Completion Method (PCM), the Reflective Judgment Interview (RJI), and the Defining Issues Test (DIT-2). Tutors' journal entries were coded for levels of complexity in their thinking about tutoring; audio and video tapes were used to rate tutoring practice. Results indicate significant changes for the group in moral development as measured by the DIT-2. The group remained fairly stable at the high conceptual level on the PCM and at the quasi-reflective stage on the RJI. Coding of tutors' journal entries indicated moderate levels of complexity in the thinking about tutoring. Ratings of video tapes of tutoring practice showed improvements in negotiating a goal for the tutorial, using questions, and providing corrective feedback.

A qualitative analysis of tutors' journals, Learning Center records, and the quantitative data revealed three themes. Narratives of three tutors' experiences explore differences, develop themes, and highlight ways in which tutors' developmental level, participation in the class discussions, demonstrations, supervised practice, amount of reflection, and balance of support and challenge impacted development. The results suggest that the mechanisms of change were the two components of the Teaching and Learning Framework---the instructional repertoire and the conditions for growth.

Implications for tutor training programs are considered in the conclusion. Appendices include a guide for coding tutors journals and tutoring behaviors at different levels of complexity.