Welcome to another inspiring example of a thriving high school peer tutoring program. Through these articles, we aim to showcase the various ways in which peer tutoring strategies are being utilized to enhance student learning outcomes. Today's article - made possible by valuable information shared by Library Media and Technology Center (LMTC) Director and Advisor, Chris Schiemann - shines the spotlight on the peer tutoring program at Waunakee Community High School. Read on to discover how the program is making a positive impact on students' academic success and overall well-being.

Program Overview

Located in Waunakee, Wisconsin and running for 8 years, the purpose of the peer tutoring and writing center at Waunakee Community High School is to use student peers to provide fellow classmates with assistance in writing and tutoring in all subjects. English / Language Arts and History are the top subjects for which students request tutoring, making them the most popular among the many subjects available.

The peer tutoring program offers tutoring sessions in-person and more recently online since the pandemic. Peer tutors in grades 11-12 lead the sessions and are available to help students during tutoring hours from 7:45 am - 3:45 pm at the LMTC. Tutoring is available in all subjects.

Peer Tutor Training & Recruitment

The tutees who make use of the peer tutoring services often attend voluntarily, motivated by a desire to improve their academic performance and achieve their goals, while some attend based on recommendations from their guidance counselors.

During tutoring sessions, the peer tutors and tutees typically meet to review the assignment and rubric together. The tutors then go over the student's work and assess their level of understanding by cross-checking the rubric and assignment sheet to ensure mastery of the material.

The program recruits peer tutors through teacher nominations. These peer tutors undergo training in September, conducted by Chris Schiemann and Mike Dreyer, the instructional coach. During training, students are reminded that their role as peer tutors is to assist, guide, and help students. They are advised against teaching or reteaching students, and instead encouraged to facilitate learning by helping students get on the right track. Additionally, they are instructed to avoid putting the tutees' papers in their own voice. The tutor training instructors also explain the importance of confidentiality regarding peers' work and who they assist. Lastly, the instructors remind the tutors that each subject area has different purposes for the work they may see come through the peer tutoring center, and that each department wants student assistance to have a different focus.

Ensuring Program Success

One challenge in running the program is encouraging student participation. Some students may feel intimidated or reluctant to ask for help, which can hinder their ability to benefit from the program. To encourage the use of tutoring services, the program creates a yearly promotional video that includes student testimonials. Regular communication is maintained with staff and through social media channels. At the beginning of each academic year, all teachers are provided with a flyer containing relevant information which is usually displayed in their classrooms. The flyers are also hung around the school to raise awareness and encourage students to use the tutoring services.

In measuring the program's effectiveness, yearly surveys of students, teachers, and peer mentors are conducted to gather feedback. According to Schiemann, the commitment and buy-in of the staff has been instrumental in the program's success.

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