Tutoring as a development tool

April 2010

Dear clients,

With a quarter of the year already past us, we are all taking stock of what we have achieved so far and what we still need to do for the year. I hope that you are in a better position than me, because I can see many late nighs with little sleep ahead!

LeMaSa has achieved quite a few things in the fisrt three monts of the year, with the most exciting news that we have applied for the accreditatation of two new programmes, namely Solution Selling and Business Ethics. Now we are just waiting for the Services Seta to do their thing!

All the best with all your initiatives. I believe that you will achieve success in the rest of an exciting year


Sandra Schlebusch

Tutoring as a development tool
The South African ASTD Chapter’s Conference and Exhibition – 23 to 26 March 2010

LeMaSa exhibited for the fisrt ime at the ASTD Conference this year. Our stand was visted by wonderful people and at the end of the conference we felt part of the training family in South Africa. The delegates found most of the presentations very valuable and Andre Roux from the Institute For Futures Research started the conference off on a high note with his predictions for the next ten years.

Several presentations stimulated heated debate and we can recommend the conference as a worthwhile learning experience.

Tutoring as a development tool
We were recently involved in a very successful learning intervention. Initially we found it hard to find a name for the approach. Although it had elements of coaching, mentoring and training, the intervention could not be comfortably categorised as exclusively belonging to any of the categories. Then we read a blog by Michael Schrage called “Mentoring Is Overrated. Try Tutoring Instead” on the Harvard Business Publishing website and realized that the approach that worked so well could be called tutoring. Tutoring is an age-old practice and we are all familiar with the concept in secondary and tertiary education. Several dictionary definitions describe a tutor as a person who gives individual, or in some cases small group, instruction. The purpose of tutoring is often to give additional, special, or remedial instruction and to help the learner to become proficient in a subject. Others view the aim of tutoring as a way of helping learners help themselves, or to assist or guide them to the point at which they become an independent learner, and thus no longer need a tutor. So what did the training intervention entail and why do we now view it as tutoring? Our target group was sales executives. They first participated in an assessment centre to determine their training needs and then received training on a one-to-one basis from a facilitator (tutor). The individualized training entailed a facilitator meeting with the employee over a period of time to address development needs as identified on the employee’s development plan. The facilitator used a structured learner manual with specific content relevant to the employee’s development need e.g. cold-calling. Each manual included learning outcomes, personal objectives to achieve, some diagnostic exercises, theoretical content, opportunity to personalize content in real life situation (during and after session) and reminders/action plan for creating value from the learning. The following session with the employee then started with the facilitator following up how the concepts were applied in real life and what impact the experience had on the employee’s performance. Tutoring might be effective in different ways for different employees. According to Keith Topping from the International Academy of Education tutoring can give the following benefits compared to classroom training: • more practice; • more activity and variety; • more individualised help; • more opportunity for questions; • simpler vocabulary; • more modeling and demonstration; • more local relevant examples; • higher disclosure of misunderstanding; • more prompting and self-correction; • more immediate feedback and praise; • more opportunities for generalisation; • more insight into learning (metacognition); and • more self-regulation and ownership of the learning process. As with any learning intervention, it is important that tutoring is well structured and of good quality. Tutors should be clear about how they can help, and how not. The selection of tutors and matching with the tutees is as important as in mentoring and coaching. Monitoring mechanisms and evaluation of progress should also be in place, as with any other learning intervention. With tutoring, you pay for a subject expert to teach at the pace required for your employee, not for a standard course delivered to a mixed-ability group. From languages to accounting, from interpersonal skills to business knowledge or IT systems skills, tutoring can contribute to the effective development of your talent. In this economy where every cent must deliver what it has promised, one-to-one tuition could be a very effective use of the training budget.