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Peer Tutoring Strategies: Spotlight on the Peer Enabled Restructured Classroom

Peer Tutoring Strategies:  Spotlight on the Peer Enabled Restructured Classroom

One aspect of peer tutoring that doesn’t get much mention is the benefit of the practice to the peer tutor. The subject of peer tutoring is often examined from the perspective of academic gains made by the tutee. Numerous research studies focus on the benefits of peer tutoring to the tutee and most peer tutoring programs arise out of a need to offer additional academic assistance to struggling students. It is not surprising that there isn’t as much information available on the benefits of peer tutoring from the tutor’s standpoint.

Some studies show that in some cases, the peer tutor benefits even more than the tutee mainly due to the fact that a deep level of understanding is required in order to teach a subject to another person. Then there are also non-academic benefits the tutor acquires as well, such as an improved self-image, communication and leadership skills, a greater sense of responsibility and good citizenship. One real world example of a peer tutoring program that greatly focuses on improved outcomes for its peer tutors is the Peer Enabled Restructured Classroom (PERC).

peer enabled restructured classroomsImage source: PERC website

The PERC model – a collaborative endeavor between some New York City colleges and public high schools – was developed by the Math and Science Partnership in New York City (MSPinNYC) and funded by a National Science Foundation award to the City University of New York and New York City Department of Education. The program aims to close the achievement gap of urban high school students while encouraging the pursuit of STEM careers. The program is designed in a manner that helps peer tutors achieve college-readiness by placing them in teaching roles.

The Peer Enabled Restructured Classroom looks like your average urban high school classroom of one teacher and 30-plus students. However, the class is broken down into smaller groups led by what the PERC model calls Teaching Assistant Scholars (TASs). TASs can be likened to peer tutors. The TASs, who are typically one grade level above their tutees, are average-achieving 10th graders who have passed the state exam in Math or Science in the 9th grade but are yet to reach college-ready benchmarks.

In a PERC classroom, the role of the teacher looks more like that of a coach with less time spent on direct teaching. The teachers work with the TASs in preparing learning activities and showing them how to properly deliver instruction to the PERC students. The TASs also participate in a mandatory training program to help them succeed in their teaching roles. There are also additional programs required of the TASs to participate in. Examples of such programs include internships, summer activities and advanced courses, designed to enhance college-readiness and success.
The TAS peer leaders aren’t the only ones who undergo extensive training. PERC teachers also participate in professional development programs designed to foster the successful implementation of PERC .

Peer Enabled Restructured Classroom (PERC) outcomes
Image source: PERC website

The PERC model continues to receive positive reviews from participating students, teachers and school officials who say they have observed improvement in academic outcomes, increased student engagement, decreased disciplinary problems, lower rates of teacher burnout and other positive results. Visit the PERC website to learn more about this groundbreaking program and to view evaluation reports and summaries of measured outcomes.

Also, you can watch videos about the PERC program on the peer tutoring videos page.

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