Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

Measuring the Moral Reasoning Competencies of Service-Learning E-Tutors

Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

Measuring the Moral Reasoning Competencies of Service-Learning E-Tutors

Article excerpt


Involving students in service-learning has been a long executed pedagogy on American campuses since the 19th century (Codispoti, 2004). By emphasizing student growth, service-learning is an instructional strategy to enrich students' learning experience through service and to cause students to reflect on their personal experiences by enhancing their responsibility (Anderson, 1998). College students can provide service to enhance local elementary or secondary children's learning achievement in the form of tutoring, (Carter Andrews, 2009), in which their own prosocial, moral, cognitive and personal development also increase.

Service-learning student teachers often help underperforming students in rural areas (Stachowski & Mahan, 1998). Children who lag behind on academic achievement are usually remedied by individual tutoring from parents or school teachers. For example, Flynn, Marquis, Paquet, Peeke, and Aubry (2012) conducted a study discovering that individual direct-instruction tutoring by parents improved children's fundamental academic achievement. For students with a lack of resources, teachers and peers are usually the only ones available to play the role of tutor when economically stressed parents are forced to work long hours. Thus, service-learning tutoring may help to fill this gap.

McMann (1994) refers to traditional tutors as face-to-face mentors and e-tutors as computer-mediated mentors. Because traditional tutoring is hindered with the issue of distance, inefficiency, and expenditure, e-tutoring has come about by providing communication and interaction between tutor and tutee through the Internet. Although the educational role difference between traditional tutoring and their online counterpart is minimal (McMann, 1994), there are four differences between them as identified by Berge (as cited in McPherson & Nunes, 2004). E-tutoring plays (1) a pedagogical and intellectual role to provide probes and questions for discussion, conversation, debates, and summary; (2) a social role to involve tutee in a friendly social environment for interactive learning; (3) a managerial role to organize the learning schedule for tutees; and (4) a technical role to introduce tutee to a competent online learning environment.

Many studies have investigated the academic growth, regulatory development, and cognitive changes in preservice teacher tutors after they engaged in tutoring. For example, Shastri's (1999) quasi-experimental study found that preservice teachers who tutored as part of a service-learning teacher education group performed significantly better than a non-service-learning group on their academic assignments. Guichon (2009) identified three competencies of regulatory development which are not present in face-to-face tutoring. The three regulatory competencies for managing synchronous online tutoring for Master's students in language teaching courses are: (1) socio-affective regulation to develop skills required for a learning community, (2) pedagogical regulation to provide feedback to facilitate content learning, and (3) multimedia regulation to apply technology supporting online interaction. Although tutors' academic, cognitive and regulatory development has been researched considerably, most tutoring studies investigate the effects of tutoring on preservice teachers. There is a scarcity of research specifically focusing on service-learning tutors who are not preservice teachers. Moreover, the moral reasoning competencies of servicelearning tutors have not been extensively studied.

Therefore, to investigate the research on service-learning e-tutor's moral reasoning, a reliable and valid instrument was planned to be designed. The theoretical literature review and inquiry interviews proceeded at the same time. Our research group conducted an initial interview with 15 tutors and recognized that tutors tended to improve competencies such as moral character, responsibility, self-sacrifice, empathy, and equity after serving as an e-tutor. …

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