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Peer Tutoring

Peer Tutoring

Peer Tutoring By Moustapha, Y., Mneimneh A Paper Presented in Partial Fulfillment Of the Requirements of ED7707 June, 2004

Address: Najd National School For Boys, Olaya main street City, Country, Zip: Riyadh, KSA,11612 Phone: +966503252376 E-mail: chatter22lb@hotmail.com Instructor: Dr. Amy Kuo-Newhouse

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Abstract This paper covers some aspects of an instructional model, peer tutoring, which has proven its efficiency and benefits over the years. The paper starts by defining the term peer tutoring. Then it discusses the relationship between the model and the cognitive learning theory. The types of peer tutoring, the benefits that arouse from the model, and the key elements of ensuring the success of the model are stated in the paper. At the end, two additional nontraditional types of peer tutoring are discussed in brief.


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Table of Contents Abstract

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Table of Contents

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1. Introduction

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2. Implications of Piagetian Theory for Peer Learning

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3. Types of Peer Tutoring

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4. Advantages of Peer Tutoring

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5. Disadvantages of Peer Tutoring

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6. Concepts for Shaping the Benefits

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7. Implementation Requirements

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8. Other Types of Peer Tutoring

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9. Conclusion

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10. References

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Peer Tutoring An instructional model is a step-by-step procedure that leads to specific learning outcomes. The models of teaching approach emphasize the need for variety in the classroom. This variety can only bea c c omp l i s he dbyde ve l opi ngt het e a c he r ’ sr e pe r t oi r eofi ns t r uc t i ona la ppr oa c he st ome e tar a ng e of objectives; the teacher who utilizes this variety is more likely to reach all students in the classroom. Moreover, students are encouraged to learn in a diversity of ways . The teacher often works with the class as a whole, particularly, when presenting information or modeling a process. The typical classroom tends to have students with a broad range of knowledge and experience; this multiplicity causes that some of these students may need individual care and explanation that is more detailed. In general, the teacher does not have the time for each and every student ; this fact pushes the teacher to search for other instructional strategies to use with them. One of these strategies is peer instruction or peer tutoring. Pe e rt ut or i ngi sde f i ne da s“ a ne duc a t i ona lpr a c t i c ei nwhi c h s t ude nt si nt e r a c twi t hot he rs t ude nt st oa t t a i ne duc a t i ona lg oa l s �(Lisi, 1999, p. 3). Peer tutoring is strongly related to the cognitive learning theory. It promotes critical thinking and problem solving. The types of peer tutoring vary from cross -age tutoring, small group tutoring, one-to-one tutoring, to home-based tutoring. Many benefits accompany peer tutoring for the learners , for the teacher, and for the educational system. When a teacher applies peer tutoring in his classroom, he must carefully choose the dyads, prepare the relevant material, and guide and train the tutor. There exist also other types of peer tutoring that are not considered traditional like adult peer tutoring and mutual peer tutoring. Implications of Piagetian Theory for Peer Learning Peer instruction can be easily related to the Piagetian cognitive learning theory which can deliver clear basis of peer tutoring (Lisi, 1999); Piaget wanted to explain the acquisition of logical and scientific thinking. Peer interactions can promote advancement in performance on Piagetian


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assessments and can support cognitive change (Lisi, 1999). The following are principles for peer learning from Piaget's Theory: 1. Individuals form peer learning groups or dyads. These individuals each make meaning, discover problems, and resolve problems within their individual minds. 2. Peer learning and interaction encourage an intellectual growth that cannot be provided when the learner work alone or with adults. 3. The cognitive system of the students influences their ability to work cooperativel y and to understand the content. 4. Peers tend to copy from each others, so the success in doing something comes before grasping its concept. 5. The work of students together causes perturbations in their cognitive systems; these perturbations are important to provoke changes in these systems (Lisi, 1999). Peer tutoring is an instructional method that clearly goes under the umbrella of the cognitive learning theory. Regardless of the different types of peer tutoring used, they all promote critical thinking and offers an opportunity for intellectual growth. Types of Peer Tutoring Peer tutoring is not one defined procedure that fits all learning situations. According to Miller et al. (1994), the most widely used formats of peer tutoring are: class-wide, cross-age, small group, one-to-one, and home-based tutoring. Class-wide Peer Tutoring Class-wide peer tutoring involves the entire class simultaneously participating in tutoring dyads. It can be used to teach skills across a wide range of subject areas, ability and age levels. Class-wi det ut or i ngr e qui r e sg r e a ta mountoft e a c he r ’ st i met opl a n, to prepare the program, and to train students as tutors (Miller et al., 1994). Each student can become the tutor or tutee in the same


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session. A lot of work is produced; this work needs more time from the teacher to monitor and evaluate. Cross-Age Peer Tutoring Cross-age tutoring occurs when an older student is matched with a younger student to deliver instruction. An age difference of two or more years usually delineates the roles. An advantage of cross-age tutoring is that tutors often require fewer training sessions because they bring skills and experience to the tutoring program. On the other hand, it lacks flexibility due to the need to coordinate schedules (Miller et al., 1994). Small Group Tutoring In small group tutoring, only a part of the class participates in the procedure where others may continue their regular work. Two procedural variations are possible within small-group tutoring: 1. The sessions can be conducted with select students who need additional practice with skills. 2. The whole class can participate in the tutoring on a rotating basis. While the teacher works with one group, a second group participates in peer tutoring. It has the flexibility of scheduling, but the teacher will typically not be available to monitor the tutoring sessions, to guide, and to evaluate because he or she will be instructing other students (Miller et al., 1994). One-to-One Tutoring In this method students are paired with select tutors, who may be highly skilled peers or also in need of remedial work. Each member of the dyad may receive and provide tutoring in the same content area, or tutors can provide instruction in a content area in which they are highly skilled. Oneto-one tutoring provides specificity of the tutoring, allows flexibility in scheduling, and it can apply to a variety of subject areas. The time needed to train tutors individually and monitor the tutoring sessions is enormous, particularly if tutors are less skilled (Miller et al., 1994).


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Home-Based Tutoring Home-based tutoring programs use the parent, the brother, the sister, or any other qualified person as the tutor. The extra practice provided by home-based tutoring can: 1. Help slower learners "catch up" with their classmates. 2. Make the average and above-average learners advance at a more rapid pace (Miller et al., 1994). In general, involving parents formally in the educational process enhances learning. However, not all parents can or should tutor their child at home. Some parents may be too anxious or have limited time or skills (Miller et al., 1994). Class-wide, cross-age, small group, one-to-one, and home-based tutoring are all applicable and used types of peer tutoring, however, the most effective type is one-to-one tutoring. Although training and preparing the tutor needs a lot of time in the one-to-one model, this type provides the teacher with a great opportunity to follow up the tutor and tutee in order to guide and enhance the process on the long run. Another advantage for one-to-one tutoring, not present in other types of peer tutoring, is the nature of the personal relationship between the tutor and tutee that arises from their continuous contact; this relationship provides more encouraging outcomes. Advantages of Peer Tutoring Many advantages arise from the use of peer tutoring as an instructional method in the classroom. These advantages are not confined only to the student (tutee and tutor); the teacher and the educational system also benefit from the process. The following are some of the advantages of peer tutoring:


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At the student level: 1- Higher academic achievement. Students demonstrate higher scores on standardized tests and higher level of cognitive reasoning (Maheady, 1998); this applies for tutors, the old adage "those who teach learn twice" holds true here (Imel, 1994), and tutees. 2- Improved interpersonal relationships where individual differences become more acceptable (Maheady, 1998). 3- More positive learning environment where the student get more frequent chances to respond, get instantaneous feedback, get encouraged, and get more fun with his colleagues. All these factors make students more actively involved and more motivated in the classroom (Maheady, 1998). 4- Enhanced personal and social development. Peer instruction has a very good impact on the t u t or ’ ss e l f -esteem and self-concept (Maheady, 1998). He or she also learns how to communicate and listen effectively. 5- Tutors may develop a sense of responsibility while helping other students. At the teacher level: 1- Peer tutoring has a positive impact on the instructional performance in the classroom. It provides procedures for individualizing instruction, strategies to accommodate diverse learning groups, i n c r e a s e doppor t uni t i e st oobs e r vea ndmoni t ori ndi vi dua ls t ude nt ’ s performance, and techniques for expanding one's instructional repertoire. 2- Peer tutoring provides a chance to teach new behavioral and social skills in addition to reducing the inappropriate academic and interpersonal behavior (Maheady, 1998). At the system level: Peer instruction provides comprehensive set of strategies for enhancing student achievement, improving general classroom discipline, preventing academic failure, enhancing faculty's


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instructional capacity, promoting educational reforms, and introducing cost effective instructional interventions (Maheady, 1998). Disadvantages of Peer Tutoring Most of the disadvantages of the peer tutoring model come from the limitation of time available during implementation. Maheady (1998) presented the following disadvantages: 1- The lack of time lessens the systematic peer training and ongoing evaluation and monitoring. 2- Amount of content coverage possible during teacher-led versus peer teaching methods. 3- Required adaptations to curricular materials need more time and work. 4- The choice of combination and the preparation of the tutor need time and good knowledge of the students (Maheady, 1998). 5- Peer tutoring may provide students a chance for cheating. Concepts for Shaping the Benefits After reviewing the advantages of peer tutoring, it is important to learn how to get the best of these advantages. Three concepts have an influence on the effects of peer tutoring on the tutor and tutee. Ehly (1998) identified these concepts as follows: the social international context for learning, the cognitive restructuring that takes place through tutoring, and individual differences. Social Interaction: When effective peer tutoring is applied, it should provide the followings: 1. Opportunities to initiate learning interactions. 2. Performance feedback that is responsive rather than purely corrective. 3. Opportunities for reciprocal gains in skill between learners and teachers (Ehly, 1998, p. 35).


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Cognitive Restructuring Having one's beliefs and ideas challenged and generating dialogue are two important processes of peer tutoring. When one child tries to make another child understand he uses argument and discussion. These changes require more time than other changes. Any cognitive change must take time to happen; it is not the immediate result of any action (Ehly, 1998). Individual Differences To achieve an effective peer tutoring model and to accept the potential benefits to both tutor and tutee in the tutoring relationship, the structuring and composition of peer tutoring in pairs and groups must take into consideration of the differences in ability, age, and gender (Ehly, 1998). The choices are depending on the activity and on the atmosphere of the classroom and lesson. Implementation Requirements Like any other instructional model, peer tutoring in the classroom must follow several criteria, so it can be implemented correctly. The following are the requirements and steps for the effective implementation of peer tutoring: 1. Preparation The amount of preparation time varies from one activity to another. Preparation includes: development of relevant instructional material, training of the tutors, and scheduling activities (Maheady, 1998). 2. Choosing and training the tutor An important step to insure the success of peer tutoring is to know how to choose the tutor and equip him or her with the right skills to accomplish the mission. The following are some points the teacher must take into consideration when choosing a tutor. The teacher must a. Choose a tutor who wants to be a tutor. b. Choose a tutor who shows compassion and willing to help others.


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c. Choose a tutor who is willing to devote time for meetings with the teacher. d. Choose a patient tutor who gives encouragement and praise (Madewell, 2004). It is not enough to just choose a tutor with the appropriate characteristics; it is also important to train him and tell him how he or she has to work. That means the tutor must be trained. If the tutor is not able to adequately explain the material, manage time, or maintain discipline the whole process becomes harmful for both the tutor and the tutee (Madewell, 2004). The tutor must be taught how to follow a lesson plan made by the teacher, must meet with the teacher for evaluation and assistance, and must know the importance of following a time line (Madewell, 2004). The tutor must watch other successful tutors in action either in the classroom or by video tapes. The tutor must be taught to follow a procedure while tutoring. Person (1999) presented five steps a tutor can follow during a peer instruction session: a. Tutor asks a question or presents a problem to be solved. b. Student answers the question c. Tutor gives feedback on the answer. d. Tutor and student collaboratively improve the quality of answer. e. Tutor assesses student's understanding of the answer. Person (1999) stated t h a t“ i twoul dbequi t edi f f i c ul tf orat e a c he ri nac l a s s r oom t oc r a f ts uc h a ne l a bor a t i vedi a l og uet ha twoul dme e tt hene e dsofapa r t i c ul a rs t ude nt �(p. 72). 3. Actual Implementation Teachers must take into consideration the amount of time needed to implement and use peer tutoring. It must not be on the expense of the time of the curricular standards and objectives (Maheady, 1998).


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4. Evaluation To ensure that the model is working, teachers must monitor their students' performance on an ongoing basis (Maheady, 1998). 5. Problem Solving Teachers must be able to solve and deal with any emerging problem during the implementation (Maheady, 1998). 6. Noise Level To control the noise level, the teacher must develop and implement simple and applicable rules (Maheady, 1998). 7. Student Complaints Thet e a c he rmus tl i s t e na ndde a lwi t ht hes t ude nt s ’c ompl a i nt sa ndc onc e r ns (Maheady, 1998). Other Types of Peer Tutoring Peer Tutoring for Adults The benefits of peer tutoring are not constrained to children, but they extend to adult learners. The following are some benefits for adult learners when peer tutoring is used in their classroom: 1- Reach the goal of self-determination as well as develop a tolerance for uncertainty and conflict. 2- Become independent from professional authority and acquire a belief in their own ability to create knowledge. 3- Polish their communication skills. 4- Preserve the learning situation because of bonds developed with other learners. 5- Increase both their motivation to learn and their self-esteem (Imel, 1994).

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An example of peer leaning for adults is reciprocal peer training for teachers. Many procedures ha vebe e nt e s t e da nda ppl i e dt oe nha nc et het e a c he r ’ spe r f or ma nc ei nt hec l a s s r oom. Some were a success and others were not so rewarding. One method that has proven efficient is reciprocal peer coaching. This collaborative method consists of teachers watching each other working, exchange expertise, and reflect on each others work (Kohler et al., 1997). Peer coaching promotes collaboration, leadership, and skills that have been associated with reflective and responsive teaching (Kohler et al., 1997). Mutual Peer Tutoring: a step higher for peer instruction. Peer tutoring must not be confined to a student teaching another student with lower ability or knowledge. Pe e rt ut or i ng“ c a nbes t r u c t ur e ds ot ha ts a me -ability age mates can scaffold each other's higher order thinking and learning" (King et al., 1998, p. 134). This kind of tutoring is known as the mutual peer tutoring. Mutual peer tutoring goes beyond stating facts and presenting knowledge. The peers engage in a more complex learning process that goes beyond memorizing facts to thinking how those facts are related to each other and to what they already know. This process requires mutual exchange of ideas, explanations, justifications, speculations, inferences, hypotheses, conclusions, and other high-level discourse. This learning process force changes in the cognitive system, so learning can happen (King et al., 1998). Conclusion Peer assisted learning (PAL), another name for peer tutoring or peer instruction, should not be viewed as the solution to all the academic and behavioral problems teachers face. Rather, it is a set of instructional options among a variety of teacher-led, student-regulated, and technology-assisted alternatives. Peer tutoring over the years has proven its efficiency in the classroom although some may adopt the assumption that children are not learning while they are engaged in peer teaching


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activities which is simply erroneous. The success of peer tutoring is due to the capacity of the method to combine crucial elements for the learning process. One of these elements is making the students more active and involved in their own learning, so they question and receive feedback (Ehly, 1998). Lisi (1999) s a y st ha tt hepe e rt ut or i nga c t i vi t i e s“ a r ec ons i de r e da ni mpor t a nta s pe c tofpr e pa r a t i on for life after formal schooling ends" (p. 4). The advantages of peer tutoring are not limited to only students, but also they extend to the teachers. Regardless of the type of peer tutoring a teacher is applying, he or she must make sure that he or she provides the elements necessary for the effective and successful implementation as preparing the tutor and the material to be taught.


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References Ehly, S. (1998). Peer-Assisted Learning (K. Topping, Ed.). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Imel, Susan (1994). Peer Tutoring in Adult Basic and Literacy Education. ERIC Digest. Retrieved May 8, 2004 from http://www.ericfacility.net/databases/ERIC_Digests/ed368891.html King, A., Staffieri, A., & Adelgais, A. (1998). Mutual Peer Tutoring: Effects of Structuring Tutorial Interaction to Scaffold Peer Learning. Journal of Educational Psychology, 90(1), 134-152. Kohler, F. W., Crilley, K. M., Shearer, D. D., & Good, G. (1997). Effects of Peer Coaching on Teacher and Student Outcomes. The Journal of Educational Research, 90(4), 240. Retrieved June 8, 2004, from Questia database, http://www.questia.com. Lisi, R. D. (1999). Chapter One Implications of Piagetian Theory for Peer Learning . In Cognitive Perspectives on Peer Learning (pp. 3-37). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Madewell, B.J. (2004, March 31). Peer Tutoring. Retrieved May 9, 2004, from http://www.addchoices.com/peer_tutoring.htm . Maheady, L. (1998). 3 Advantages and Disadvantages of Peer-Assisted Learning Strategies. In PeerAssisted Learning, Topping, K. (Ed.) (pp. 45-62). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Miller, A. D., Barbetta, P. M., & Heron, T. E., (1994). START tutoring: Designing, training, implementing, adapting, and evaluating tutoring program for school and home settings. In R. Gardner, D. M. Sainato, J. O. Cooper, T. E. Heron, W. L. Heward, J. Eshleman, & T. A. Grossi (Eds.), Behavior Analysis in Education: Focus on Measurably Superior Instruction (pp. 265-282). Monterey, CA: Brooks/Cole. Person, N. K. (1999). Chapter Three Evolution of Discourse During Cross-Age Tutoring. In Cognitive Perspectives on Peer Learning (pp. 69-85). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.


peer tutoring