Synergy is the national peer-reviewed online journal of the Association for the Tutoring Profession published annually in the fall and spring. The primary mission of the journal is to provide an avenue for scholarship and discussion, which furthers the knowledge of learning processes, tutoring practice, and the administration of tutoring services.
What Tutors Can do to Enhance Critical Thinking Skills Through the Use of Bloom’s Taxonomy Dr. Jack Truschel, Ed. Psy. D.

Tutors can be the critical force who can encourage everyday learners to become critical thinking learners. Most of us are aware that there are various practices and pedagogies, designed to assist students to learn specific content at colleges and universities, but are they used? What are the processes tutors can use to encourage critical thinking?

According to Chaffee (2003), critical thinking is “Making sense of the world by carefully examining the thinking process, as well as to clarify and improve our understanding.” Critical thinking is going beyond rote memory and multiple choice questions and encourages the how as well as the why forms of thinking.

Tutors can be the critical element that encourages this higher level thinking by the design and implementation of questions during tutoring sessions. Tutors can encourage the student to use a higher level of critical thinking and encourage the student to stretch cognitively. One method to accomplish this is to move the student from just knowledge / remembering based interaction to a higher and critical thinking form of interaction. This article will outline Bloom’s Taxonomy and provide the reader with methods as well as processes designed to encourage the student in becoming a critical thinker.

Classroom Decorum: What’s Happening and Does it Matter?
C. M. Dzubak, Ph.D. - Penn State York

Civility or Chaos? Historically, there are convincing reports and descriptions of problems in the classroom suggesting that incivility is not a new trend. However, there are also indicators that student behavior is somehow different from what it was years ago. What accounts for the observed change in student behavior and the increase in incidences of classroom incivilities? The outside world necessarily intrudes upon what was once the sanctity of the classroom. Rudeness and incivility are increasingly common in the real world, as demonstrated in the workplace, on our highways, and in the public schools. Regardless of faculty attempts to minimize the impact of the “real world” in the college classroom, students are raised on multiple modes of stimulation, multitasking, and instant gratification that promote immediate and interactive feedback. The classroom of old, based primarily on lectures and devoid of technology, has become obsolete. Is there more to the demise of classroom decorum than changes in teaching styles and the infringement of technology and societal norms into the classroom? The following section will include a brief history of classroom etiquette before we take a closer look at current issues.

Multitasking: The good, the bad, and the unknown
Cora M. Dzubak, Ph.D. - Penn State - York

Multitasking is a term frequently used to describe the activity of performing multiple tasks during a specified time period. But what does it actually involve? Is multitasking the simultaneous engagement in various activities or is it sequential engagement in multiple tasks? Does it literally refer to actively performing more than one activity at the same time? Or, might it involve active engagement in a single activity while also passively processing another source of stimulation, such as auditory or visual input? Whichever it is, different types and levels of cognitive processing are required depending on whether tasks are performed simultaneously or sequentially. Can an individual simultaneously and effectively perform one hands-on task, visually monitor another one, while also attending auditorily to a third source of sensory input? In other words, does multitasking describe “engagement” in a single activity but also the frequent switching among several activities? Many people are certain they are performing multiple tasks at a specific moment in time. The above questions suggest the need for some clearer definitions and explanations of both multitasking and related information processing activities that are involved in the process. The first step is to define “multitasking”.
Using the Myers-Briggs in Tutoring: Understanding Type
Dr. Jack Truschel, Ed.D., Psy.D. - East Stroudsburg University

People perceive issues, problems, happiness, sadness, general information etc., in different and fundamental ways. We also have a propensity to attribute the way people react to problems or issues, in a unique manner. We may apply causal attribution (Kelley, 1972) such as asking ‘why’ the person behaves as they do. Why did the tutee not show up for their appointment or why did the tutee not begin to do the assignment as previously discussed? At times, our attributes are in error and at other times, they are accurate. We make these fundamental attributions in error because we have a tendency to believe a person acts as they do because they are “that kind of person”, (Van Overwalle, 1997). These differences, especially when in a one-on-one environment such as tutoring, can be especially challenging. People, in general, are motivated by different things and although there are many theories of motivation, I will briefly discuss three.

Locus of control is the degree to which reinforcement is or is not contingent on a persons own behavior. The factors include "external" and "internal" control. Having an internal locus of control refers to the perception that positive or negative events are the consequence of one's own actions. This is in contrast with external locus of control which refers to the perception of positive or negative events which are unrelated to one's own behavior and beyond personal control (Rotter, 1954). Some of us are extrinsically motivated by items outside of us, such as being liked by others or enjoy being complimented. Others are motivated intrinsically, by studying and getting good grades. They feel good about themselves or feel they have accomplished something. Others set goals and strive to achieve them. The goal - setting theory states that for a person to be motivated, the goal must be clear, specific, attainable, and quantifiable (Locke & Latham, 1984 In this case, the person (tutee) attends tutoring because their specific goal is to earn an “A” in a specific class. The final theory of motivation I will discuss here is the expectancy theory which is also known as VIE (Vroom, 1964). The “V” stands for valence which is the desirability of the outcome. The student may come to you saying, I need to pass this class or else, my parents will disown me. The “I” stands for the instrumentality which is the perceived relationship between the performance and the outcome. Here the student may report I need to see a tutor to pass the class. Finally, the “E” stands for expectancy or the relationship between the effort and result. The student will say, I studied and expected to get a “B”, but I only earned a “D”. Here the expectancy of the grade and the reality of the student’s previous performance are not congruent.

People have different motives, purposes, aims, values, needs, drives, impulses, and desires for what they do and why they do it. There difference can make the tutor – tutee relationship challenging and at times, frustrating for both parties. One quick method for assisting a tutor is to think of their interactions or behaviors in terms of the four letter code result of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. The Myers-Briggs Type indicator is a tool that can highlight differences in our perception based on personal biases. It can assist our understanding of those differences by assisting in our ability to discern rationale for the behavior of others. We can also work on common issues (via communication) and develop a basic understanding of those with whom we interact.

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) was developed by Isabel Myers and Katharine Briggs in the early 1940's (Myers & Mccaulley, 1985). According to Renee Baron (1998), the initial development of the MBTI is based on the teachings of Carl Jung, a Swiss psychiatrist and is designed to reveal basic personality preferences. Carl Jung's four psychological functions include: thinking, feeling, sensing, and intuition. The central theory of the MBTI is that behavior, which is susceptible to growth and development, is a product of a relatively unchanging personality type.