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Tutoring as a social practice : Taiwanese high school students in Vancouver Wu, Angela Mei-Chen.

Abstract

Tutoring is a rapidly increasing but under-researched component of the education of immigrant students. This study examines one-on-one tutoring of Taiwanese high school immigrant students in Vancouver. Viewing tutoring as a social practice rather than an instructional tool for teaching academic content, this exploratory study attempts to understand how participants construct tutoring in the British Columbian educational context. Factors such as the patterning of tutorials, the participants' perspectives, and the wider educational context have been considered in this study. This study recruited 12 tutor-tutee pairs, 12 parents, and 10 school teachers. Tutoring interactions were tape-recorded over a ten-month period. Combining aspects of discourse analysis and qualitative research, this study used discourse analysis to study tutoring interactions and qualitative interviews to explore the participants' beliefs about tutoring and schooling. This study explored the interaction patterns of tutoring, examined the participants' assumptions and expectations, and investigated the relationship between the tutoring (informal learning) and the schooling (formal learning) process of immigrant students. The varied patterns of tutorials suggested that tutoring went beyond teaching academic content and served multiple functions for the immigrant families. The patterns focused on addressing the needs of parents and students to interact with their schools, and providing emotional and cultural support. In addition, there seemed to be conflicting voices among the participants regarding the tutorial practices. For example, participants expressed strong and opposing views about the goals of tutoring and the quantity of homework, academic content instruction and grammar instruction in tutoring and in schools. These different voices seemed to cause tensions which were explored and negotiated in tutoring interactions. Lastly, the relation between tutoring and its wider educational context was both cooperative and conflictual. For example, while tutoring offered students homework assistance, this assistance caused the school teachers to be concerned with tutor over-helping. Thus, there is a complex and interactive relationship between tutoring and the educational system. To conclude, studying tutoring as a social practice acknowledges the varied tutorial patterns, the conflicts, the dynamics, and the complexity of tutoring interactions.

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