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CRITICAL THINKING PROBING QUESTIONS AND TUTORING CYCLE TUTOR TRAINING Adapted from a presentation By Tem Fuller, Ph.D.: The Learning Center at Signal Peak.

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Presentation on theme: "CRITICAL THINKING PROBING QUESTIONS AND TUTORING CYCLE TUTOR TRAINING Adapted from a presentation By Tem Fuller, Ph.D.: The Learning Center at Signal Peak."— Presentation transcript:

1 CRITICAL THINKING PROBING QUESTIONS AND TUTORING CYCLE TUTOR TRAINING Adapted from a presentation By Tem Fuller, Ph.D.: The Learning Center at Signal Peak Campus, Central Arizona College

2 Tutoring Do’s and Don’ts are based on Ethical Code of tutoring. Critical Thinking and Tutoring Cycle are based on our knowledge of tutoring strategies and human learning. We will study Learning Theories in Level 2 of our Tutor Training Program. Today we will work on the rules of tutoring.

3 Critical Thinking “A good thinker is one who goes beyond the first plausible answer. Are there some other possibilities? What other way can I think of this situation?” Batenhorst (2003, p. 119). __________________________________ Source: Deese-Roberts, S. (2003). Tutor Training Handbook. Lenexa, Kansas: CRLA.

4 Ineffective Thinkers Impulsive Quickly give up Inflexible Use imprecise language Does not plan, and does not have skills for organization of learning materials Does not check the work Does not use multiple sources Skips steps Does not engage in the line of reasoning and presentation Unable to identify the process of learning Source: Costa, A. (1991). Developing minds: A resource book for the teaching thinking..Arlington: VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. In Deese-Roberts, S. (2003). Tutor Training Handbook.Lenexa, Kansas: CRLA, pp

5 Probing Questions In this presentation, I will focus on Using probing questions for identifying tutees prior knowledge and deficiency. Using Tutoring Cycle for helping student become effective thinker.

6 CRITICAL THINKING AND PROBING QUESTIONS Ask questions for clarification to start the tutoring session. Ask questions that probe assumptions to understand tutee’s prior knowledge Ask questions that probe reason and evidence to help with the learning process Ask questions that probe viewpoints and perspectives to situate the task into specific context. Ask questions that probe implications and consequences to help the summary and review of the underlying thought process. ____________________________ Source: Paul, R., (1993). Critical Thinking: How to Prepare Students for a Rapidly Changing World. InBill Stephen, Northern Illinois University Consortium for Problem-Based Learning Retrieved 10/9/2009 from

7 EXAMPLE: Questions of Clarifications What do you mean by ____? What is your main point? How does _____ relate to _____? Could you put that another way? Is your basic point _____ or _____? What do you think is the main issue here? Let me see if I understand you; do you mean _____ or _____? How does this relate to our problem/discussion/issue? What do you, Mike, mean by this remark? What do you take Mike to mean by his remark? Jane, can you summarize in your own words what Richard said?... Richard, is this what you meant? Could you give me an example? Would this be an example,...? Could you explain this further? Would you say more about that? Why do you say that? ________________________________________________________________________ Source: Paul, R., (1993). Critical Thinking: How to Prepare Students for a Rapidly Changing World. In Bill Stephen, Northern Illinois University Consortium for Problem-Based Learning Retrieved 10/9/2009 from

8 EXAMPLES: QUESTIONS ABOUT VIEWPOINTS OR PERSPECTIVES The term "imply" will require clarification when used with younger students. What are you implying by that? When you say _____, are you implying _____? But, if that happened, what else would happen as a result? Why? What effect would that have? Would that necessarily happen or only possibly/probably happen? What is an alternative? If _____ and _____ are the case, then what might also be true? If we say that ____ is ethical, how about _____? Source: Paul, R., (1993). Critical Thinking: How to Prepare Students for a Rapidly Changing World. In Bill Stephen, Northern Illinois University Consortium for Problem-Based Learning Retrieved 10/9/2009 from

9 Example: Questions that Probe Assumptions What are you assuming? What is Jenny assuming? What could we assume instead? You seem to be assuming _____. Do I understand you correctly? All of your reasoning depends on the idea that _____. Why have you based your reasoning on _____ instead of _____? You seem to be assuming _____. How do you justify taking that for granted? Is that always the case? Why do you think the assumption holds here? Why would someone make that assumption? Source: Paul, R., (1993). Critical Thinking: How to Prepare Students for a Rapidly Changing World. In Bill Stephen, Northern Illinois University Consortium for Problem-Based Learning Retrieved 10/9/2009 from

10 Example: Questions that Probe Reasons and Evidence What would be an example? How do you know? Why do you think that is true? Do you have any evidence for that? What difference does that make? What are your reasons for saying that? What other information do you need? Could you explain your reasons to us? Are these reasons adequate? Why do you say that? What led you to that belief? How does that apply to this case? What would change your mind? But, is that good evidence for that belief? Is there a reason to doubt that evidence? Who is in a position to know that is true? _______________________________________________________________ Source: Paul, R., (1993). Critical Thinking: How to Prepare Students for a Rapidly Changing World. InBill Stephen, Northern Illinois University Consortium for Problem-Based Learning Retrieved 10/9/2009 from

11 Questions that Probe Implications and Consequences How can we find out? What does this question assume? Would _____ ask this question differently? How could someone settle this question? Can we break this question down at all? Is this question clear? Do we understand it? Is this question easy or hard to answer? Why? Does this question ask us to evaluate something? What? Do we all agree that this is the question? To answer this question, what other questions must we answer first? I'm not sure I understand how you are interpreting this question. Is this the same as _____? How would _____ state the issue? Why is this issue important? Is this the most important question, or is there an underlying question that is really the issue? Source: Paul, R., (1993). Critical Thinking: How to Prepare Students for a Rapidly Changing World. In Bill Stephen, Northern Illinois University Consortium for Problem-Based Learning Retrieved 10/9/2009 from

12 TUTORING CYCLE Part of Address the Task ”INFORMATIONAL APPOACH” The tutor shares information to assist the student/tutee in learning the information. When you do this make sure you use questions that provide evidence of learning. Have student summarize often.

13 TUTORING CYCLE MacDonald, R. B. (1994). The Master Tutor Willamsville, New York: The Cambridge Study Skill Institute. The Master Tutor: A Guidebook for More Effective Tutoring Author: Ross MacDonalsFormat: Paperback (Workbook)Publication Date: March 1994 Publisher: Cambridge Stratford ISBN-10: ISBN-13:

14 Attention Any simplification assist memorization, but it is just a guide not a recipe. Tutors apply simplifications with care for students, tasks, instructional goals. The Tutoring Cycle developed by Dr. Ross Macdonald is a research-based observation of how tutors work. The tutoring profession is developing.

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16 Step 1 Greeting Greet the student (s) by name. Record the Time In in your tutoring log. Display friendliness--smile, gesture, small talk, etc. Provide efficient seating arrangements (use portable white boards.) Encourage tutee (s) to initiate the first task: to open books and notes, etc. MacDonald, R. B. (1994). The Master Tutor. Willamsville, New York: The Cambridge Study Skill Institute, pp De Anza Collegehttp://faculty.deanza.edu/alvesdelimadiana/stories/storyRe ader$61

17 Step 2 Identifying Task and Learning Opportunities Provide opportunity for tutee (s) to take (partial or full) control and determine the focus of the session Use probing questions to clarify tutees’ immediate concerns. ("What is the hardest part for you?") Restate tutees’ problems to help tutee understand what was needed and to focus activities for session. If you need to refocus session, explain why. Use empathetic statements to help tutee (s) define the problem ("That part can be hard.") If necessary, suggest other learning opportunities, such as study groups, workshops, or types. ____________________________________________________________ Paul, R. (1993). Critical Thinking: How to Prepare Students for a Rapidly Changing World. Foundation for Critical Thinking, p. 26.

18 Step 3: Breaking the Task Into Pieces This step depends on the time and prior knowledge of the tutee (s) and the task. “What should we work on today?“ “What part of the task can be done in 50 minutes?” Require tutee (s) to state the task and expectations. Help tutee (s) to break the task into manageable pieces. Help tutee 9s) to plan the session by analysis of all pieces. Restate tutee (s) “I have to” with details. ____________________________________________________________ Resource: Paul, R. (1993). Critical Thinking: How to Prepare Students for a Rapidly Changing World. Foundation for Critical Thinking, p. 28. Also:

19 Step 4 Thought Process According to Paul (1993), Step 4 of the Tutoring Cycle is one of the two most important steps of tutoring (28). Ask the tutee (s) to explain the general approach learned in class. Help with all possible materials or resources. The organization of learning materials (notes, textbook, video-tutorials, and others) will lead the process of learning. Guide the tutee (s) to explain the method, strategies, and presentation of the task. Promote independence, by scaffolding the task, but allowing the tutee (s) to work the pieces of the task and to explain them to you. ________________________________________________________ Resource: Paul, R. (1993). Critical Thinking: How to Prepare Students for a Rapidly Changing World. Foundation for Critical Thinking, pp

20 Step 5: Set an Agenda for the Session “Well, we have 40 minutes, how shall we use them?” Give the tutee (s) opportunity to set-up an agenda. Be flexible and open for learning opportunities. It is important to have the agenda stated and explained. In a long-run, working with agenda is help for building Time Management Skills. If the tutee (s) are weak in stating an agenda, you may want to refer the workshop on Time Management. _______________________________________________________ Resource: Paul, R. (1993). Critical Thinking: How to Prepare Students for a Rapidly Changing World. Foundation for Critical Thinking, p. 32.

21 Step 6 : Addressing Task "Where should we begin? What do we do next?" If you would like to write something, use the white board, the pencil and paper should remain in front of tutee, not tutor. Encourage tutee (s) to do most of the talking/learning. Did not over explain or take control. Allow sufficient "wait time" for tutee to do act, speak, or learn before you take over and explain. Step 7: Tutee Summary of Content Encourage tutee (s) to summarize what has just been learned (i.e. "OK, let's review for a minute. Show me what we just talked about.") Wait for tutee’s explanation to run its course without interrupting or correcting. Give tutee opportunity to self-correct by asking questions, then waiting. Use tutees’ explanations to determine if he or she really understands. If understanding is incomplete, return to addressing the task. Resource: Resource: Paul, R. (1993). Critical Thinking: How to Prepare Students for a Rapidly Changing World. Foundation for Critical Thinking, pp De Anza College

22 Step 8: Tutee Summary of Process This step is about the underlying thought process. Have tutee (s) summarize process for addressing the task ("So, how do you do this again?") Wait for tutee summary to run its course. Determine if tutees’ understanding would allow the completion of similar task independent of tutoring. If understanding is incomplete, return to addressing the task. Step 9: Confirming and Reinforcing Confidence After tutee( s) explains content and process, offer positive reinforcement, and confirm that tutee really did understand or improve. Congratulate tutee (s) for working hard and not giving up. Reassure tutee (s) that he/she can now do similar tasks independently. Resource: Paul, R. (1993). Critical Thinking: How to Prepare Students for a Rapidly Changing World. Foundation for Critical Thinking, p. 26. De Anza College

23 Step 11: Planning next session Look at the syllabus together with the. Allow tutee (s) to make decision about whether to return for another session and what to do during the session (i.e. "Should we meet next week? What should we do? What will you have done to prepare before the session?") Confirm time and date for the next session. Be sure tutee (s) knows who to call to cancel. Step 12: Evaluating Session/Closing Evaluate progress on agenda (i.e. "We got a lot done," or "We got off track.") Ask what helped most and what could be improved Thank tutee (s) for contributions (i.e. "You really came prepared. That helped.") If necessary, make suggestions for next time ("Be sure to come prepared, bring your books, read the chapter, and do your homework for the next session!") End session on a positive note ("You made a lot of progress!" or "Even though we got off track, we learned what to do for next time.") Please, record the session. ________________________________________________________ Resource: Paul, R. (1993). Critical Thinking: How to Prepare Students for a Rapidly Changing World.Foundation for Critical Thinking, pp Resource: De Anza College

24 This presentation is the beginning, not the end, of tutor training. Record all hard tutoring sessions and think about your tutoring strategies. You need personal experiences to discover your tutoring cycle.

25 References Costa, A. (1991). Developing minds: A resource book for the teaching thinking..Arlington: VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. In Deese-Roberts, S. (2003). Tutor Training Handbook. Lenexa, Kansas: CRLA, pp De Anza College (n.a.) Retrieved from Internet Deese-Roberts, S. (2003). Tutor Training Handbook. Lenexa, Kansas: CRLA. MacDonald, R. B. (1994). The Master Tutor. Willamsville, New York: The Cambridge Study Skill Institute. Paul, R. (1993). Critical Thinking: How to Prepare Students for a Rapidly Changing World. Foundation for Critical Thinking Paul, R., (1993). Critical Thinking: How to Prepare Students for a Rapidly Changing World. In Bill Stephen, Northern Illinois University Consortium for Problem-Based Learning. Retrieved 10/9/2009 from


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