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Educational Research for Social Change

On-line version ISSN 2221-4070


PETERSEN, Nadine; RADEMEYER, Vanessa  and  RAMSAROOP, Sarita. Building Academic Support in Preservice Teacher Education Using Peer Tutors: An Educational Action Research Project. Educ. res. soc. change [online]. 2020, vol.9, n.2, pp.32-46. ISSN 2221-4070.

In this paper, the authors report on the process of designing and implementing an academic support programme using peer tutors at a newly established rural university. The need for support for the development of first-year preservice student teachers' English language academic proficiency motivated the programme. In educational action research mode, the authors tracked changes and improvements to the programme and its implementation over a four-year period. Data in the form of questionnaires, interviews, video recorded lessons, and observations were generated in four cycles to inform reflections and new actions. The data were analysed using procedures associated with content analysis, and interpreted through the lens of cultural historical activity theory. The results show that competing tensions and a lack of focus on a shared object initially led to a delay in building shared knowledge in the beginning of the project. The authors interpret the results from a CHAT perspective and show the value of these tensions for identifying levers of change in a developmental process in the project. In this respect, the missteps of the researchers led to multiple iterations of reflection and action in order to arrive at a shared object, while defining the legitimacy of mediating tools, organisation of division of labour, and effective rules in a higher education programme.

Keywords : academic proficiency; academic support programme; cultural historical activity theory (CHAT); educational action research; peer tutor system.

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