K-12 Peer Tutoring Frequently Asked Questions
- What is Peer Tutoring?
Peer tutoring is an evidence-based, student-led instructional strategy used to support improved academic achievement and social-emotional outcomes among students. The practice is conducted under the supervision of a teacher who takes on the role of coach, while pairs of students work together. The term “peer” often misleads many into thinking peer tutoring only occurs among students of the same age. However, peer tutoring often occurs among students of differing ages and grade levels as well. The appropriate term in this case would be cross-age tutoring. To sum things up, peer tutoring can be either same-age or cross-age. Learn about commonly used peer tutoring models.
- What are the benefits of peer tutoring?
Peer tutoring provides a way for participating students to receive the kind of one-on-one help that might be impossible in a traditional classroom setting where all of the teaching is done by a single instructor. Peer tutoring gives students increased opportunities to respond and receive instantaneous feedback on what they’re learning in a non-intimidating environment. Students who participate in peer tutoring generally experience significant academic improvements as well as positive behavioral patterns.
- Is there any research that supports the effectiveness of peer tutoring?
Yes, there are numerous studies – focused mainly on reading and math content areas – supporting the benefits of peer tutoring to both tutor and tutee. Also, there are peer tutoring research studies that have met the evidence standards of WWC (What Works Clearinghouse), an initiative of the Institute for Education Sciences at the U.S. Department of Education. The research library on this site is a good starting place to find research information on peer tutoring.
- Does peer tutoring benefit the tutor? Is it an efficient use of the tutor’s time?
Studies have shown that peer tutoring benefits the tutor as much as the tutee, if not more. This has been attributed to the fact that the level of understanding gained by tutors deepens significantly when teaching others. Other than the obvious academic benefits, tutors develop creative and critical thinking skills through the process of figuring out how to help tutees understand concepts. Engaging in peer tutoring also enhances the tutor’s self-image.
- In peer tutoring are students only paired based on academic abilities? For example stronger student tutors struggling student?
The manner in which students are paired up in a peer tutoring program depends on that program’s goals. For example, some teachers set up peer tutoring programs within their classrooms to give students additional opportunities to practice and reinforce previously taught material. These peer tutoring methods tend to be reciprocal in nature, where student pairs take turns at being the tutor and tutee. While many peer tutoring programs are designed with the primary goal of boosting academic achievement for struggling students, in which case higher skilled students will tutor students in need of assistance, some of these programs are designed for other reasons such as mentorship, self-esteem building, employment experience, social maturation and so on.
- Is there a way to verify that a student being tutored is receiving accurate, quality instruction from a peer?
Firstly, peer tutoring is not intended for tutors to replace teachers or introduce new material to tutees. Peer tutoring strategies are most effective in drill / practice activities to reinforce what students have already being taught. Peer tutoring programs are run under the supervision of teachers who generally take on the role of coaches during tutoring sessions. Also, the most successful peer tutoring programs usually have effective evaluation methods designed around program goals as well as a solid tutor training and evaluation system in place.
- Does peer tutoring take away from regular instruction time?
Peer tutoring is not meant to replace regular teacher instruction. The time in which peer tutoring takes place varies across programs and is a decision made by program coordinators and school officials based on what works best for everyone involved (students included). Setting a schedule for a formal peer tutoring program in a school wide setting is clearly more involved than a class wide situation because there are a lot more factors to be considered. In either case tutoring can occur after school or incorporated into normal school hours.
Questions About the Peer Tutoring Resource Website
- Who is this website for?
This Peer Tutoring Resource Center is an online resource that curates information in the resource library to help k-12 educators set-up and run effective peer tutoring programs.
2. Will I be able to find a private tutor on this site?
This website does not list private tutoring services. This site has been created to provide information for K-12 educators with interests in implementing teaching strategies where students give and receive tutoring within a classroom or school setting.
3. I’m an educator and I can’t find the information I need. Where can I get additional assistance?
If you’re unable to find the peer tutoring information you need, our online community of educators / peer tutoring practitioners might be able to help you in the discussion forums.