Peer tutoring refers to an instructional strategy used in most of the schools and it involves pairing students to enhance learning or to enable students practice academic tasks. Students paired can be having same or even different abilities and may also be of different age range. It is usually employed on classroom intervention in an evidence-based approach. Peer tutoring can take different instructional approaches which includes reciprocal peer tutoring, cross age tutoring and peer assisted learning. Interaction among peers can lead to powerful influence of a student’s academic motivation as well as achievement.
During peer tutoring activities, the students take tutorship and tutees roles in turns while the teacher gives them instruction on how to go about peer tutoring. Research on the effects of peer tutoring on students has revealed that students who are more committed to the peer tutoring activities are better performers than those who are not highly involved. Peer tutoring is usually used as a means of classroom intervention which is meant to improve the academic performance of students as well as improving or enhancing classroom behavior of students (Reiber & McLaughlin, n. d). How peer tutoring is used as classroom interventions
Classroom interventions are used to increase the academic productivity of students. One of the major intervention approach used is the CWPT an acronym of class wide peer tutoring which was developed by Greenwood et al in 1984. This approach is used so as to enhance the students’ academic engagement rates as well as consolidating their skills. Class wide peer tutoring involves several components which are validated from instructional literature and included opportunities to respond and correct errors immediately, frequent assessment and also public posting of the performance obtained.
This approach has no contingency and relies only on the atmosphere in helping to motivate productivity of students. One of the major successes of the class wide peer intervention is that it helps in improving the engagement of students as well as enhancing their attitude towards learning and also academic achievement in most of the subjects which includes languages, math reading and arts among others (Rathvon, 2003). Class wide peer tutoring helps in increasing the opportunities for student to actively respond thus increasing their achievement.
This approach covers students with diverse ability levels especially in the middle and elementary schools. This approach of classroom intervention also helps in reducing disruptive as well as off-task behavior. Under this approach, the teacher acting as a tutor selects a student who becomes his tutee for some minutes while the other students watch. The teacher then selects two more students who tutor each other while the teacher gives corrective feedback. Few more demonstrations are conducted and the practice is then carried out by the whole classroom.
The teacher also provides session rules to the students and this practice is closely monitored by the teacher. From each pair, the teacher picks a student and gives him materials which are used to tutor the other student. Tutors are allowed to award standardized points to tutees for correct and positive response. The tutor reports the points of the tutee after every session and the winning team is applauded by the rest of the students. This method is usually used for literature, languages and reading practices. This role is interchanged after every session.
The teacher then evaluates the progress by comparing the scores of the class work with those of the tests carried at the end of each unit (Reiber & McLaughlin, n. d). Another form of evidence-based intervention which employs peer tutoring is referred to as reciprocal peer tutoring (RPT) which is also used to raise students’ achievement. This approach was developed by Fantuzzo et al in 1992. Unlike the CWPT which usually deals with languages and reading, RPT helps in improving the performance of mathematics of underachieving students.
Apart from improving mathematics behavior, this approach also helps in improving classroom behavior. This approach differs with class wide peer tutoring in that reciprocal peer tutoring deals with self management and also has subgroup contingencies. Under this approach, the students organized into groups select and work towards obtaining rewards for their group. On the contrary, CWPT has no backup contingencies and relies more on the atmosphere of game-like as a motivating factor to achievement.
Also, class wide peer tutoring is mostly applied for oral reading, mathematics computation and spelling while reciprocal peer tutoring is mostly applied in academic subjects that require skills practice (Rathvon, 2003). While implementing reciprocal peer tutoring, a contingency of an interdependent group is combined whit peer tutoring in a format which is game like. Peer tutoring functions are transformed to become roles of teams consisting of four students. This was initially employed on students who were underperforming in normal classrooms but has so far been used to improve accuracy and performance in arithmetic.
This approach can be applied for all subjects that require fact drills. Under this approach, the teacher divides the students into groups consisting of four students where each member of the group has a role. Since this approach takes a game like approach, one of the members of the group takes the role of a coach while the others take the roles of the referee, manager and scorekeeper. The teacher then conducts a preliminary demonstration outlining the roles of all the group members. He also trains them on the coordination of the roles important in the fact drill session.
After this training, each team is allowed to select their team name and also to devise a pet talk for their coach that includes the strategies of the team which would help it improve their academic performance (Riley-Tillman et al, n. d). The roles within the group are alternated after a period of time and the team chooses their daily goal at the beginning of a session. The teacher then distributes worksheets and sets the time limit for completion of tasks. While performing the tasks, the coach acts as the peer instructor and he orients his members on the tasks and he also records their daily goal.
The scorekeeper also referred to as peer observer is responsible for counting the problems which each member correctly completes which are recorded on individual member’s worksheet. The peer evaluator or the referee has the role of counting the number of problems which are correctly completed and he does this independently. All the scores are recorded in the team’s score card. The manager also referred to as the peer reiforcer is the one who determines the total score of the team which he compares to the daily goal and determines whether it has been met.
If the team meets its goal, then the team is declared to have won by the manager. Intervention is only done in three of the members of a team are present. After four wins, a team is entitled to get group determined reinforcers (Reiber & McLaughlin, n. d). An evaluation is carried out by the teacher by comparing the daily assignments of the teams with their scores before and after the reciprocal peer tutoring program implementation. Reciprocal peer tutoring has been widely used to enhance basic math learning as well as helping students acquire problem solving skills.
Instructional strategy employed while implementing peer tutoring for math helps in reinforcing facts about math, enhances computational skills and also math concepts (Rathvon, 2003). Conclusion Classroom intervention is being widely employed today as a means to enhance learning as well as improving performance of students especially those with attention and hyper active disorders. Peer tutoring is the mostly used and effective format used to ensure that the goals of classroom intervention of enhancing students’ performance have been achieved.
Peer tutoring especially the class wide and reciprocal tutoring take a game like approach making them fun and enjoyable activities thus helps in soliciting compliance thus motivation for academic performance. However, to make classroom intervention more beneficial, it is vital for the tutors or the teachers to be given adequate training on how to implement these programs to ensure they solicit cooperation and to also make the programs successful. Reference: Rathvon, N. (2003): Effective School Interventions: Strategies for Enhancing Academic Achievement and Social Competence.
ISBN 1572309105, Published by Guilford Press Reiber, C. & McLaughlin, T. F. (n. d): Classroom Interventions: Methods To Improve Academic Performance And Classroom Behavior For Students With Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. Retrieved on 16th March 2009 from, http://www. internationalsped. com/documents/(1)rieber. doc. Riley-Tillman, T. C. et al (n. d): Evidence-Based Intervention Manual. Retrieved on 16th March 2009 from, http://core. ecu. edu/psyc/rileytillmant/Final%20Intervention%20Document. pdf.