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February 2002 Issue

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Management Strategies & Tips

By Frank L. Christ

Email: flchris@mindspring.com

Frank Christ PictureTip #19:  A Management Model for Individualized or Paired Self-paced Tutorials

Many centers prescribe self-paced tutorials to assist students to master course content or to develop or to improve a learning or study skill. Tutorial materials may be printed text, audiocassettes, videos, computer software, or Internet material. The suggestions below will improve the probability that the time spent by the student in these tutorials will result in information mastery or behavior change.


Whenever possible, pair students who have a similar need for content mastery or skills development. 


Give students learning style choices by recommending two or three different types of tutorial materials.


Model tutorials. This will insure that both the technological and the learning problems that may occur are reduced. For text material, ask the student to demonstrate how he/she study-reads the material. For audio and visual material, show the student how to divide it into chunks for more effective learning with a summary following each chunk to effect closure preferably in writing to validate and reinforce the learning.


Let students know that both technical and content help is always available from a center staff member if a problem arises while completing a tutorial.


Test or have students self-test for content mastery. For skill competence, ask students to demonstrate the skill being learned or to write out the steps that are being followed to use the skill.


Ask students to maintain program logs indicating dates, times, titles of tutorial material, along with any problems or concerns that surface during tutorials.


Maintain a center log for each student.


Hold regular case conferences where staff can exchange successes and failures in their work with student tutorials. Anonymity is preserved by not using student names as staff discuss cases.

From my experience with diagnosing, prescribing, and following up with students so that they develop or master content or skills, tutorials fail to develop content mastery or to effect behavior change when there is little or no human interaction before, during, and after a tutorial.


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