For the past three years I’ve been helping high schools build efficient, sustainable peer tutoring programs.
When I was a high school student at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Northern Virginia, physics was my favorite subject. I discovered most of my passion for physics through tutoring other students in it, since I had to understand the material at a much deeper level in order to explain it to someone else. I was struck by how much the simple act of helping others with their schoolwork could increase my enthusiasm for the subject, and foster an overall feeling of community and collaboration. I didn’t know it at the time, but these were just some of the numerous mutual benefits peer tutoring provides for tutors and tutees academically, socially, and emotionally.
When I realized these benefits of peer tutoring, I was driven to co-found my high school’s peer tutoring program. It started with a simple Google form I set up for anyone that wanted to give or get help in physics, and later expanded to more subjects that students often had difficulty with. The program eventually helped 500 students (20% of the school) to get quality academic support from peer tutors that had been in their shoes.
After graduating high school, I wanted to help other schools build successful peer tutoring programs. Since peer tutoring can be so beneficial, I wondered why there weren’t great programs already implemented in most high schools. I talked to dozens of principals across the country, and realized that many of the challenges they faced with peer tutoring were similar. Running a sustainable, efficient peer tutoring program poses several key challenges for schools.
In a typical high school peer tutoring program, students have to be manually matched by a program coordinator, usually a busy faculty member. Making these matches manually often takes more time than a student who needs help can spare. In addition, it’s difficult to track when tutoring sessions are happening and whether the sessions’ objectives have been met, making it almost impossible to evaluate program efficacy.
I started to imagine a software solution that could alleviate these problems and help students, teachers, and school administrators by:
In the past few years, I’ve worked to turn this idea into a reality. PeerKonnect is a software platform which enables schools to provide high quality peer tutoring programs for their students, all while saving schools time and money. Students can find each other and easily schedule sessions, while educators get access to an intuitive dashboard with all of the tools they need to efficiently manage their peer tutoring program.
I’m proud to say that PeerKonnect has already been implemented in several schools across four states, and has brought promising results. For example, when PeerKonnect was introduced to Woodward Academy in Atlanta, their peer tutoring program tripled in size. At Woodward, 20% of users were able to improve their letter grade by a full letter grade, and over 80% of users also found a stronger sense of community and collaboration through using PeerKonnect.
A teacher at one of our partner schools told us “PeerKonnect has been a huge help, it’s easy to navigate and gives me everything I need to manage my school’s peer tutoring program.” One of our students, Grace, also said “My PeerKonnect experience has been great! It is super easy to use, and I would definitely recommend it to anyone who needs any tutoring help.”
If you’re interested in learning more about PeerKonnect, feel free to check out our site at peerkonnect.org and feel free to also request a software demo.
Ray Liu is an undergraduate student at Duke University studying Economics and Education, and Founder/CEO of PeerKonnect, which licenses peer tutoring software to high schools that empowers them to build sustainable, efficient peer tutoring programs. He hopes to provide quality academic support to students across the nation through peer tutoring and foster healthy, collaborative learning environments. In his free time, he loves to read, meet people from all walks of life, and watch and play basketball.