This article features the operations of Peer Tutors, the peer tutoring program at Stevenson High School, Lincolnshire, Illinois as explained by tutors and co-sponsors, Kelly Caplan and Geriann Pioquinto.

Purpose of Peer Tutoring Program

According to their mission statement, the program's purpose is to positively impact, directly or indirectly, the student to student learning experience, encourage students' sustained effort in continually striving for improved learning outcomes, and enable each student to achieve individual success through effective tutoring.

About the Program

The program which has been in existence for several years, has evolved since its inception into a full, student-led club with official sponsors and events. Tutoring is offered in the following subjects: Math, Social Studies, Communication Arts, World Languages, Science, Computer Science, and all junior high school subjects.

The pandemic required switching from in-person tutoring to a strictly online format. The program makes use of Zoom to meet the tutoring needs of students at Stevenson High School and a local junior high school, and also has plans of extending its outreach to more of its neighboring feeder schools. The program also makes use of social media to stay in contact with peer tutors. Other tech platforms used within the program include Google Sites page and Canvas.

Program Participants

The program serves as a supplement to the adult tutors already employed by Stevenson High School as tier 1 support. For students not currently enrolled in a tiered intervention, adult tutors match those students with suitable peer tutors.

Peer tutors work directly alongside the adult tutors at the tutoring center and are able to work with all Stevenson students in need of academic support. All students at feeder school, Daniel Wright, can also choose to seek tutoring support from the program. Additionally, there are dedicated tutors who assist students enrolled in tier 2 Intervention programs at both Stevenson and Daniel Wright.

Stevenson High School Peer Tutor club

Peer Tutor Recruitment

During the school year, students are offered two opportunities to apply to Peer Tutors. At the beginning of each semester, interested students are invited to an informational meeting where the executive board outlines tutor responsibilities and subject-specific requirements. All upperclassmen who meet content-specific requirements are then invited to apply. Generally, all applications are accepted provided applicants demonstrate a desire to tutor.

Peer Tutor Training

Tutors undergo multiple training sessions throughout the school year. All tutors complete a general orientation where they are provided with a general overview of the peer tutoring process. Then in subsequent months, content-specific training sessions are incorporated. These sessions are geared towards each Common Core curricula. The program sponsors state, "We are continuing to expand upon our training and exploring additional topics that we can cover in future years."

Tutoring Session Procedures

Tutoring procedures follow a step-by-step Model Tutor Session process as outlined below:

  1. Connection / relationship building

    *Introductions

    • How are you doing today?
    • Introduce yourself first and then ask for the student’s name
  2. Set the purpose
    • Why are you here?
    • What class and level are you in?
    • Are there any upcoming formatives or summatives?
  3. Materials and resources
    • Ask the tutee to take out their materials / notes
    • Ask the tutee to summarize their approach

      *Note: Don’t be afraid to use student resources to refresh on older content and construct the tutoring session

  4. Questioning
    • Assess what the tutee already knows
    • For paragraphs of information / word problems, have the tutee underline key information
  5. Dialogue
    • Give a little, get a little
    • Let the student lead the conversation
    • After a peer tutor provides information, consider using a question to either assess tutee understanding or transition lead in dialogue back to tutee
    • Too much questioning can create anxiety, don’t be afraid to give a formula or a hint
  6. Scaffolding
    • Let the tutee explain how to answer a question
    • Gradual release of responsibility
    • Put the learning in the hands of the tutee
    • Build their confidence
  7. Conclusion
    • Conclude the session
    • Assess what the tutee learned
    • Ask the tutee to summarize what was accomplished, reinforce to visit as often as needed

Meeting Tutoring Session Goals

The program's tutor training approach emphasizes scaffolding the learning process. Peer tutors begin with more direct instruction; as the session progresses the onus falls on the tutee to take the lead. By the conclusion, the tutee should be able to complete the work independently under the supervision of the peer tutor. According to program sponsors, "Our peer tutors diligently work with the tutees until the tutee overcomes their dissonance."

Program Evaluation

The program is evaluated through information gathering from tutors, tutees' review of sessions, and feedback from the adult tutors that students work with. Peer tutors give direct feedback through Google forms and forums on how to improve the program while tutees demonstrate their knowledge before they leave a peer tutoring session. Tutors are trained to check for understanding and will go back to work with a student if there are any lingering questions.

Overcoming Challenges and Refining the Program

As with any peer tutoring program, there are bound to be challenges. In the program sponsors' words, "A challenge we encountered while running our program in a remote to hybrid setting was balancing the schedules of our students between the club and their academic responsibilities. Schedules were always shifting and this prompted us to redo our master schedule several times. Our other challenge was providing engaging training for students through the online platform. Figuring out how to get students to interact with one another and not just with the presenters was a tricky challenge to address.

Something helpful that we did this year was map out a timeline of when we wanted certain training, milestones, and events done by. This helped keep our students on track throughout their busy semesters and gave the sponsors a gauge of where we need to be."


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