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Studying Thought Processes of Online Peer Tutors through Stimulated-Recall Interviews

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HETIJHEEP Volume 59, Number 5, ISSN 0018-1560


The present study aims to explore the cognitive processes of older students during their peer tutoring support of freshmen engaged in asynchronous discussion groups. Stimulated-recall was applied to study the underlying motives for specific tutor behavior in the online discussions and to make tutors' concerns explicit. A grounded theory approach was used to analyze the interview transcripts. A constant comparative analysis of the data resulted in six issues associated with peer tutors' cognitive processing in relation to actual tutoring behavior: strategy use, reasons for intervention, experience with online discussions, evaluation of faculty support, satisfaction with tutor-tutee interaction, and evolution over time. Furthermore, the results point at tutor worries. A major dilemma concerns the persistent problem of deciding when, how exactly, and how frequently to intervene. A second tutor dilemma is associated with the multidimensional tutor role. Thirdly, peer tutors struggle with the fact they are not professionals so not expert in the learning materials.


De Smet, M., Van Keer, H., De Wever, B. & Valcke, M. (2010). Studying Thought Processes of Online Peer Tutors through Stimulated-Recall Interviews. Higher Education: The International Journal of Higher Education and Educational Planning, 59(5), 645-661. Retrieved December 12, 2019 from .

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