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Peer Tutoring in the Science Content Area: A Teacher’s Findings

Peer Tutoring in the Science Content Area: A Teacher’s Findings

The latest addition to the peer tutoring research library is a report by Laura Dougherty in which she reflects on her experiences in employing peer tutoring practices in a 6th grade science class at Glasgow Middle School, Alexandria, Virginia. The study was conducted as part of George Mason University’s Language Minority Beginning Teacher Induction Project.

Dougherty’s class comprised of students of varied learning levels such as ESL, gifted, learning disabled, and regular education. Most of the class period was spent in cooperative learning groups where each group was expected to:

  1. Brainstorm in order to understand the experiment at hand
  2. Verbally communicate with one another
  3. Perform the experiment as a group

Reading comprehension, writing and verbalization were key skills necessary for the successful completion of the experiments in this class.

Dougherty conducted peer tutoring for two quarters and found the practice to be beneficial to all her students particularly three Spanish-speaking students who spoke English as a second language and had also been identified with learning disabilities; specifically auditory deficits. Prior to peer mentoring, these three students did not contribute much to classroom discussions or interact with their classmates outside of class. The students also had difficulty understanding written language.

After two quarters of being involved in peer tutoring, the students in question had made noticeable academic and social gains. Also, Ms. Dougherty found her classroom to be more manageable and learner-centered, with a general improvement in peer relations.

The PTRC wishes to thank Laura Dougherty for donating her report: Peer Tutoring: Can it Have an Affect on Science in the Content Area? which is now available in the peer tutoring research library. If you have additional questions or comments based on this report / peer tutoring in the science content area, you’re welcome to post them in the peer tutoring discussion forum.


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