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Mastering peer tutoring: Your key to student success

Photo by Van Tay Media on Unsplash

Peer tutoring is a real game-changer when it comes to improving student learning. With its well-established effectiveness, this approach hits the bull's eye, resulting in enhanced academic performance, increased classroom engagement, and a thirst for knowledge.

Dr. Keith Topping, a renowned British educational psychologist, and professor of educational and social research, has conducted extensive research on peer tutoring. He has authored numerous articles and books on the topic, highlighting its positive influence on student learning and involvement.

In addition, the Peer Research Laboratory suggests that students are "prosumers" of education, wearing both producer and consumer hats. Peer tutoring helps them find their footing in the second aspect of learning‚ÄĒteaching. When students lend each other a helping hand, they boost their self-confidence and enjoy a more fulfilling learning experience. So, it's clear that peer tutoring is truly the bee's knees when fostering a thriving educational environment.

This Workee article will tell you all you need to know about peer tutoring and what it offers you as a teacher and your learners.

What is peer tutoring?

The whole gist of peer tutoring is that learners work in pairs or small groups to help each other learn. It is similar to a "partnership" in that it connects students to improve their academic skills by connecting higher-achieving students with lower-achieving students or pairing students with similar assimilation rates. 

In a South African Journal of Education study, 90% of those who participated in peer tutoring said that their grades had significantly improved. The model promotes close collaboration among peers as they share knowledge and provide feedback. They serve as intermediary teachers to one another in a friendly but effective teaching atmosphere.

This system makes it easier for the teacher to ensure everyone is led along. As a result, the teacher's burden is significantly reduced, while students remain motivated and engaged. It is a win for everyone.

What are the benefits of peer tutoring?

At every stage of the learning process, peer tutoring benefits both the tutor and the tutee. It is particularly helpful for students with learning challenges like dyslexia or ADHD. Online peer tutoring bridges the gap, so distance is not a barrier.

Listed below are some of the advantages of this learning arrangement:

Its average cost is very low when compared with other modes of learning. Minimal expenses may be incurred during tutor training and, if necessary, the acquisition of teaching aids. But it excludes the structural fees charged by traditional learning institutions.

It improves students' academic performance because the program is designed with each student's learning style in mind. Additionally, it reaffirms knowledge from earlier lessons, which aids in comprehension and retention.

It enhances students' social skills. Some learners feel out of place in a typical classroom setting, possibly due to social anxiety or other factors. However, a peer tutoring program offers a safe social environment for students to express themselves.

It boosts the learners' self-confidence, as they can support and assess one another. They become more confident and motivated to learn due to this interaction.

It is more adaptable than other traditional teaching methods. It allows students to progress at their own pace. This makes it very effective for students with special needs.

Peer tutoring does not only have benefits for the learners. It also assists tutors in honing their teaching and communication skills, recalling prior knowledge, and developing a metacognitive understanding of topics. This helps them in their study.

Effective strategies for implementing peer tutoring                                

Peer tutoring differs from traditional structured learning but must still be well-organized to produce the best results.

Programs should focus on ensuring a high-quality experience for learners with the resources and expertise available. The first step might be for you, the teacher, to teach the peer tutors about the learning objectives and ways to gauge each others’ progress.

Here are some pointers for putting peer tutoring programs into action:

1. Preplanning and supervision: It is essential to plan to make sure that each learner receives instruction that is appropriate for their level. One session should follow another, and each must be carefully supervised. 

2. Proper tutor-learner pairing: The ideal tutor-learner match will depend on the program's goal, but in general, age, academic level, interests, and personality are all factors to consider when pairing learners. 

3. Using learning aids and frames: To enhance the learning experience, various tools such as cue cards, charts, and diagrams are utilized. Additionally, digital technology is being innovatively used to support learning. Our Workee software enables educators and mentors to share digital resources such as videos and text to facilitate learning. Workee website builder makes this possible.

Self-employed professionals like tutors find Workee useful for streamlining their online business operations. It is an efficient tool for organizing workspace and keeping track of clients. Workee provides a range of resources to support its users further, including:

  • Smart booking and scheduling features that you need to manage your meetings across time zones. When you schedule meetings with Workee, you will receive reminders as the date approaches.

  • Automated invoicing and payments for services, records of payments received, automatic tax calculation, and support for multiple currencies‚ÄĒall free of commission fees.

  • Video calls and conferencing with your students, with a notepad feature for taking notes during call sessions.

  • Client management software helps you keep each client in focus. All interactions, including sessions, payments, and other client information, can be managed in a single digital space.

4. Setting duration and schedule: Peer tutoring programs typically run for four to ten weeks, three to five days per week. While no strict guidelines exist, research suggests consistent and rigorous programs yield better results than infrequent ones.

It's important to note that there are no fixed rules for peer tutoring. Teachers must assess and personalize their approach to suit each student's requirements. As a result, there is ample opportunity for experimentation to find the ideal program.

Adapting to different learning styles                                

Peer tutoring has proven to have a huge impact on learning. It is effective because the interaction is close-range and intensive. This helps to pay attention and adapt to the tutee's unique learning styles. Studies have shown that because this learning arrangement is personalized, low-achieving students typically gain a lot from it. 

Peer-led tutoring helps students fill in knowledge gaps by giving them specialized help to reinforce classroom learning, hone skills, and spot and solve problems.

What are the types of peer tutoring?

One-on-one tutoring

In this setting, two or more learners study together, juggling tutor and tutee roles as the session demands. Higher-performing students are usually paired with lower-performing ones to close the gap.

One-on-one tutoring allows both parties to share learning material, answers, opinions, and encouragement in a personalized yet structured format. Learners may be permitted to prepare their materials and use their preferred methods of instruction. They also observe and evaluate their peers according to predefined goals.

Group-based tutoring

 This method is sometimes known as "classwide peer tutoring." In this scenario, a class of learners is shared into groups or teams of approximately five students, who often have varying academic abilities. Each serves as a tutor or tutee for the other, depending on the situation.

These teams can compete with one another. Healthy competitions like these inspire students to work harder. It also allows them to gain insights from other learners not in their group.  

As a teacher, you can switch up groups as often as necessary. In other words, pairings are flexible and subject to change as you discover the personalities and interests of your learners.

Cross-age tutoring

This type brings together students of various ages or levels to work on a specific academic skill. The younger or less capable student is often the tutee, while the older or more advanced student is the tutor. However, this arrangement benefits both of them because they learn together. 

Studies show that a two- to three-year age difference is ideal for a tutor and tutee. This scope is sufficient to advance the tutee's knowledge while fostering a pleasant environment. It is also easy for the tutor to share knowledge without sounding too advanced.

Same-age tutoring

Learners of similar ages are grouped to discuss and learn. Aside from numerical age, pairing may be based on student ability or study level. The idea is that the peers should have a similar level of understanding.

The good thing about this model is that it frequently allows the tutor and tutee roles to be switched, allowing each student to learn from and assess the other.

Conclusion

Every teacher wants their students to get better at learning. As a result, they are constantly seeking innovative and fun ways to do this. Peer tutoring is an efficient tactic in which students are paired to teach and learn from one another.

According to research, peer tutoring, whether one-on-one, in a group, across age groups, or with students of the same age, is successful if properly organized and executed.

Peer tutoring is mutually beneficial. It improves academic performance while assisting tutors and tutees in developing social skills, self-confidence, and positive peer relationships.

Teachers should keep these in mind when designing peer programs for their classes.

FAQs

Q: How does peer tutoring differ from traditional tutoring?

A: While traditional tutoring involves a professional or paid tutor helping a student one-on-one, peer tutoring involves students working with their peers. In peer tutoring, students take on the roles of both tutor and tutee, which can lead to a more collaborative and interactive learning experience. Peer tutoring also fosters a sense of community and connection among students.

Q: What are the benefits of participating in a peer tutoring program?

A: There are many benefits to participating in a peer tutoring program. For one, students who act as tutors can strengthen their understanding of the material they are teaching. Tutors and tutees can also develop important communication and leadership skills and gain confidence. Peer tutoring can also help struggling students catch up academically, boosting their overall performance in school.

Q: What is the role of the teacher in a peer tutoring program?

A: The role of the teacher in a peer tutoring program is to provide support and guidance to tutors and tutees. Teachers can help identify students who would make good tutors, provide training on effective tutoring techniques, and monitor the progress of both tutors and tutees. Additionally, teachers can provide feedback and support to tutors to help them improve their teaching skills. Ultimately, the teacher plays a crucial role in ensuring that the peer tutoring program is successful and beneficial for all students involved

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