It’s good to see you again in this module. I enjoyed your post, and I found the description of the “Academic Support Tutor Programme” fascinating. Having more experienced students as tutors is an excellent way of developing their knowledge. The old phrase “The one who does the talking does the learning” comes to mind. Indeed, there’s a whole school of theory that is based on getting students to create the lesson plans and to teach the lesson. Jean-Pol Martin’s Lernen durch Lehren (learning by teaching) provides a thorough framework for knowledge about the value of peer tutoring (Grzega & Schoner, 2008). Your programme is aimed at supporting academically weak students, but I suspect that there will be strong value for the tutors, too. This may be something to think about when you apply for funding for next year.
I have a question about your categorisation of the Smith et al. article as ‘social cognitive’. I had it as ‘social constructivist’, as you can see in my table. Svinicki (1999) relates that “early cognitive theories focused on learning as a structuring and restructuring of memory” (p.8). Peer interaction can be seen as the impetus that triggers memory restructuring. Anderson’s ACT-R, for example, describes how the procedural module in the brain, i.e. the central processing unit, interacts with various other modules (e.g. declarative memory, problem state, control state) in real time which utilises the short-term memory to provoke changes in the long-term memory (Anderson & Schunn, 2000; Borst & Anderson, in press). Current theories aim to describe and predict phenomena, and ACT-R—among other cognitive theories—explains the ‘how’ of learning in social environments.
Smith et al. don’t state their theoretical base clearly, but when they quote a respondent:
“Often when talking through the questions, the group can figure out the questions without originally knowing the answer, and the answer almost sticks better that way because we talked through it instead of just hearing the answer” (p. 124);
my estimation is that they describe the social aspects as being the reason for the improved cognitive functioning, i.e. distributed knowledge (Svinicki, 1999, p. 13). Distributed knowledge, as I see it, is like a jigsaw puzzle that has been scattered on the floor. Each piece represents a unit of knowledge held by an individual. Individuals combine their pieces to create the fuller picture. Of course, this metaphor only goes so far; different pictures are possible with different combinations of the same knowledge units, and some combinations are prioritised. Smith et al., in my opinion, draw upon the notion of constructing knowledge socially, not upon the technical mechanisms involved in cognitive modelling.
Anderson, J. R., & Schunn, C. D. (2000). Implications of the ACT-R learning theory: No magic bullets. Advances in Instructional Psychology (Vol. 5), 5, 1–34.
Borst, J. P., & Anderson, J. R. (n.d.). Using the ACT-R Cognitive Architecture in combination with fMRI Data. In B. U. Forstmann & E. J. Wagenmakers (Eds.), An Introduction to Model-Based Cognitive Neuroscience. New York: Springer.
Grzega, J., & Schoner, M. (2008). The didactic model LdL (Lernen durch Lehren) as a way of preparing students for communication in a knowledge society. Journal of Education for Teaching, 34(3), 167–175. http://doi.org/10.1080/02607470802212157
Svinicki, M. D. (1999). New Directions in Learning and Motivation. New Directions for Teaching and Learning, 1999(80), 5–27. http://doi.org/10.1002/tl.8001