Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Elish-Piper, Laurie

Degree Name

Ed.D. (Doctor of Education)

Legacy Department

Department of Literacy Education


Tutors and tutoring--Training of--United States; Literacy programs--United States


Instructional programs designed to intervene in a struggling beginning reader's literacy development are commonly referred to as early reading intervention programs. Typically, instruction in an early reading intervention program takes place in a one-to-one tutorial setting, often using paraprofessionals as tutors. This study was a qualitative investigation into the development of tutoring expertise among paraprofessional tutors in a first-grade early reading intervention program. Participants in this case study included district administrators, building reading specialists, and paraprofessional tutors. Through focus groups, follow-up surveys, field observations, and program documents, this investigation examined the characteristics of both expert and nonexpert tutors and factors that facilitate or inhibit the development of tutoring expertise. Staff development and supervisory practices that promote the development of tutoring expertise were also identified. Results suggest that expertise in tutoring is a multidimensional construct that includes characteristics in three interrelated areas. Program-centered characteristics include a thorough understanding of the instructional model and the ability to rapidly problem solve and adjust instruction to meet the student's needs. Child-centered characteristics of caring, concern, and encouragement are typical of an expert tutor. Expert tutors hold high expectations for their students. Tutor-centered characteristics of a positive attitude, a collaborative spirit, and a desire to improve their own performance were identified as qualities of an expert tutor. The results of this study also suggest a model of staff development designed to foster tutoring expertise. This model is both continuous and interactive. It includes a core level of training where procedural knowledge and instructional practices are presented. Time for discussion and guided practice are key components of this level. Ongoing coaching and interaction with the tutors form the continuous level of training. Both levels of training in this model are influenced by the needs of the tutor and the program, and they adapt to provide the support necessary to develop expert tutors. The findings of this investigation also suggest that factors external to the intervention program may also influence the development of tutor expertise. These include inadequate tutoring space, limited time for preparation, and a building climate that is not supportive of the program.


Includes bibliographical references (pages [192]-200).


xii, 242 pages




Northern Illinois University

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