Lecturers? role in tutor development from an activity theory perspective

23 Nov 2016

Social interactions in tutoring, particularly from the perspective of tutor-lecturer interactions, remain largely unexplored. From an activity theory angle, this study draws on the notion of knotworking to describe the post-training support that lecturers give to tutors in an attempt to help them cross the tutoring Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD). A qualitative paradigm was adopted in this study and involved face-to-face interviews with lecturers and tutors. The theoretical framework used was activity theory. The findings showed that rather than being a structured, formal process, post-training occurred in a loose, flexible, unstructured and informal manner. Knots were tied, untied and sometimes retied as the tutoring community worked together to achieve the object, which was the development of tutors. Hence, knotworking was used as a tool in achieving the object. This article also identified the constraints that impeded knotworking, such as the power struggle that existed between lecturers and tutors and how some lecturers refused to work with and help tutors cross the tutoring ZPD. One of the recommendations advanced is that lecturers themselves need training on how to conduct tutorials and how to mentor tutors in order to create an alignment between student development (training of tutors) and staff development (training of lecturers). Other recommendations for improving post-training support for tutors focus on addressing the constraints inherent in the activity system of post-training support.