What is Peer Tutoring?

A research-supported instructional strategy in which students work together, usually in pairs for the purpose of practicing and mastering academic skills or concepts. Peer tutoring is a broad term for a variety of tutoring situations that occur among students of same or different ages.

Same-age Peer Tutoring

In this model, tutoring occurs between students of the same age or grade level. Peer tutoring can be conducted among students within the same classroom as well as students from different classrooms.

Cross-age Peer Tutoring

This type of tutoring occurs between students of differing ages where the older student tutors the younger student. For example, a middle school student might get paired with an elementary grade student to help the younger student with reading or math skills.

Reciprocal Peer Tutoring

In this setting, paired students alternate roles as tutor and tutee. This alternating of roles often occurs within the same tutoring session where each student in the pair takes turns acting as tutor and tutee for a defined period of time. In a different scenario, a student’s role within a tutoring session may remain the same until he / she engages in a new tutoring session with a different partner.

Classwide Peer Tutoring (CWPT)

A model based on reciprocal peer tutoring that incorporates a game format where each student is paired with another and assigned to a team. This results in the formation of two teams of equal ability, with each team consisting of high, average and low skill level students. Student pairs practice academic tasks during a tutoring session with each member of the pair getting an opportunity to tutor and be tutored while acquiring points for his / her team. The team with more points after a tutoring session wins. Learn more about CWPT on the website of University of Kansas where this model was developed.

Peer Assisted Learning Strategies (PALS)

PALS is a version of Class-Wide Peer Tutoring (CWPT) designed to supplement already existing math and reading curriculum. Teachers create student pairs based on individual needs of the students. A student that needs help in a particular area is paired with a partner who can best help that student in learning that content / skill. Over time, partners change in order to address other needs. PALS Reading and Math was developed by researchers at Vanderbilt University’s Kennedy Center for Research on Human Development. Learn more about PALS on the university’s website.

Common Peer Tutoring Models in K-12

Click above image to download a PDF of this peer tutoring infographic

Additional Information on Peer Tutoring

  • For research documents on peer tutoring outcomes, visit the Peer Tutoring Resource Center's research library.
  • Watch peer tutoring videos.
  • Browse the resource library for lesson plans, tutor training materials, program design resources and other tools for running a successful peer tutoring program.


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