Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Faculty of Science

First Advisor

Michael Pratt

Advisor Role

Thesis Supervisor


In the present study, the type of instruction to which children were exposed was manipulated in an attempt to determine the tutoring effectiveness, affective consequences, and impact on generalization of tutoring patterns based on Vygotsky’s (1934/1978) and Wood’s (1980) concept of the "region of sensitivity to instruction." Participants were forty fourth and fifth grade children from the Waterloo Separate School Board. Each child was randomly assigned to one of four experimental conditions, or to a no-training control, and individually tutored by the experimenter on difficult long division math problems. The tutoring interventions were classified by levels of instructional support following the work of Wood, Wood, and Middleton (1978). The high support tutoring condition involved consistently instructing the child at very supportive levels of experimenter regulation. The moderate support tutoring condition involved consistently instructing the child at intermediate levels of experimenter regulation. The contingent support tutoring condition involved instructing the child with the aid of Wood's (1980) shift rule, which maximizes intervention in the child's current region of sensitivity to instruction. The shift rule specifies providing more support on the next intervention if the child failed in following instruction, and less support if the child succeeded. The sequential support tutoring condition involved providing minimal support during the first intervention of every problem step and subsequently providing gradually increasing support until the child succeeded The control condition involved only the administration of the pretest and post-tests. Children were subsequently post-tested on long division problems three times: immediately after tutoring, after one week, and after one month. Attached to each post-test was a two-item transfer of training measure. A measure of affect toward the tutoring was administered to each child immediately following the final tutorial session. Results revealed that on the immediate post-test, for both training items and novel transfer problems, contingently-tutored children outperformed children in all other conditions. Moreover, this superiority of performance by the contingent group was maintained over the two long term post-tests of same and novel problems, administered one week and one month after the final tutorial intervention. Further, significantly better performance was observed among children tutored at intermediate levels of experimenter regulation compared with children, the control, high, and sequential conditions at the immediate post-test across both similar and novel problems. This performance difference was transient, however, as there was no significant difference in performance among children in the control, moderate, high, or sequential conditions on the one week and one month post-tests of same and novel problems. Results from the affective data indicated that children tutored with the sequential strategy reported significantly more negative feelings toward the tutorial session than children tutored with the moderate or contingent strategies. Furthermore, a significant difference in reported positive feelings was found among children in the control condition and children in the remaining four conditions. However, no significant difference existed on this positive affect index among children in the four experimental conditions. Finally, a significant difference in perceived performance existed among children tutored with the contingent strategy and children tutored in the control or sequential support conditions only. Results are discussed relative to the findings of Wood (1980).

Convocation Year


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