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.
Role Modeling to Under-Prepared Students
Cora M. Dzubak, Ph.D. - Penn State York

Many college campuses are experiencing an increase in under-prepared students, a diverse group varying with ability, educational background, ethnicity, income, and life experience. By definition, “under-prepared” suggests that there are some areas of academic skill deficit. There are a variety of strategies that can be used to help students recognize the areas that, if addressed, will contribute to their college success. Effective role modeling is one such strategy. It serves to not only help the students recognize where they might want to make changes in order to increase the likelihood of success but also demonstrates the skills needed to do so. Before identifying the necessary and desirable student characteristics that can be addressed via role modeling, a definition of “under-prepared” student needs to be provided.
Why Tutoring Matters: The interaction of a peer tutor and a tutee during scaffolding
Dr. Cora M. Dzubak - Penn State York

We know that tutoring “works”. Students have long reported that tutorial assistance is beneficial as they acquire new skills and knowledge. In fact, tutoring has become such an established activity on college campuses that it is often assumed that it will be effective, resulting in improved student performance. Although once associated primarily with poor academic skills or a need for remediation, tutoring is currently more recognized as a service that can benefit any student at some point in his academic career (Dvorak, J., 2001; Dzubak, C., 2008; Maxwell, M., 1994; Rabow, J., Chin, T., and Fahmian, N., 1999). An interesting question is why this activity with a peer tutor is so effective in supplementing the learning that occurs in the typical classroom. That is, what occurs during a tutoring relationship that is so helpful to the students that they choose to continue it for an entire semester?

Dzubak ( 2008) discussed many of the interpersonal variables that are exhibited during effective peer tutoring. Some of these variables can be demonstrated in the classroom with the instructor but others generally cannot, given the nature of a typical college classroom. For example, one of the benefits of a one-to-one tutoring session is that it provides an opportunity for scaffolding to take place. The position of this writer is that it is the effective use of scaffolding during a tutoring session that has three distinct advantages over a classroom. First, it is conducted during a personalized, face to face, “social” interaction; second, it provides immediacy of feedback that is seldom possible in a college classroom; and, third, it actively engages the tutee in the process of learning. These three variables are the key components of scaffolding.