Qualities of effective tutors in distance language teaching: student perceptions

Murphy, Linda; Shelley, Monica and Baumann, Uwe (2010). Qualities of effective tutors in distance language teaching: student perceptions. Innovation in Language Learning and Teaching, 4(2) pp. 119–136.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/17501220903414342


Although the skills and attributes, needed for classroom language teaching, have been extensively researched and generic competencies for distance teaching have been defined, the skills required for effective distance language teaching have received little attention, other than with respect to online language learning. The study reported here represents the student-focused phase of a research project into the knowledge, attributes and skills required by distance language tutors. The taxonomy derived from earlier phases of the research was used in a survey of distance language learners (N=144) of French, German and Spanish at The Open University (UK); in-depth interviews were also carried out with 12 students to provide further insights into what students value in their tutors. The study also investigated student perceptions of differences between their requirements of distance tutors compared to classroom tutors. Qualities students considered to reflect effective tutoring intersect with the views of tutors in earlier phases of the research and encompass three meta-themes: the domains of tutor expertise; the affective dimensions of tutor engagement; and organisational dimensions of tutor practice. Implications for learner support and tutor professional development are suggested, together with avenues for further research.

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