Rick A. Sheets

A Dissertation Presented in Partial Fulfillment

of the Requirements for the Degree

Doctor of Education


August 1994


The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of training and experience on tutors. Constructivism and metacognition laid the theoretical foundation for the need, the process, and the outcomes for tutor training. The investigation followed a field study design. Variables were not manipulated; instead, existing variables and interventions were investigated. Four research questions guided the study.

  1. Does tutor training affect a tutor’s ability to identify an appropriate course of action with a student?
  2. Does tutoring experience affect a tutor’s ability to identify an appropriate course of action with a student?
  3. What other factors contribute to a tutor’s ability to identify an appropriate course of action with a student?
  4. What are the relationships between the tutors’ abilities to identify an appropriate course of action and their abilities to construct an appropriate course of action?

Two researcher-created instruments were developed for the study. Twenty local and national experts in the field identified the appropriateness of tutor responses on the instruments. Ten or more hours of training was found to make a significant difference in the appropriateness of tutor responses to presented tutoring situations on the total score. “Active listening and paraphrasing” was the one topic investigated in which one or more hours of training made a significant difference in the appropriateness of tutor responses on a sub-test score.

There were no significant differences found in the total score nor sub-test scores among groups based on reported tutoring experience which was acquired during the study.

Four “other” factors also significantly affected the total post-test scores. From the pre-test, two variables had a positive effect: 1) amount of prior related work experience, and 2) the category of “other” as a “Reason for becoming a tutor.” From the post-test, two variables when valued by tutors as “Perceived rewards of being a tutor” had a negative effect: 1) “Making money” and 2) “Giving something back.” Recommendations were presented 1) for practitioners in the field, and 2) for professionals interested in pursuing additional research to exceed the scope and findings of this study.


Dedicated to my family:

my wife, Barbara

my parents, Dick and Carolyn

my brother, Greg

and my grandparents,

Martha and Cecil Sheets & Clara and Bob Briney



No study of this nature and complexity can be accomplished without the help, support, and cooperation of many others. My list of acknowledgments begins with the eternal patience and guidance of my committee chair, Gary Anderson. His efforts, though frustrating at times, were most effective in the development and completion of this study. For their support and guidance in the completion of a rigorous, professional program of study, including this dissertation, special recognition goes to my present and former committee members: Lyndon Searfoss, Billie Enz, Robert Stahl, Kay Martens, Naomi Wamacks, Nelson Haggerson, and Keith Thomas. I extend my appreciation to my supervisor and my college administrators who have given me continued support through both the comprehensive exams and this study: Fred Stahl, Gina Kranitz, and Raul Cardenas. My special thanks go to the experts and program directors who used their precious time to actively participate in this study, and to my research consultant, Warren Gamas, for his help and insight. Twenty people deserve special mention because of their mentoring, faith, and everlasting support over the years: Barbara Sheets, Carolyn Sheets, Dick Sheets, Sally Rings, Frank Christ, David Gerkin, John Córdova, Kay Martens, Ken Roberts, Richard Wurtz, Sylvia Mioduski, Tom Gier, Aimée Jafary, Suzy Crescenti, Jack Rolinger, Mary Lou Mosley, Cheryl Kubasch, Lou Farmakis, Marty Kamins, and David Friedman. Finally, I want to thank all my friends, family, and colleagues, who have supported me with their kind words, nudgings, and even pep talks throughout this nine-year process.

  Next: Chapter I – INTRODUCTION
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