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Are you considering using peer tutors in your classroom? This lesson will help you understand what peer tutoring is. We will also discuss the different models of peer tutoring, as well as the possible implications, both good and bad.

What Is Peer Tutoring?

Peer tutoring is a teaching strategy that uses students as tutors. The student pairs might work on academic, social, behavioral, functional, or even social skills. There are many different ways to pair students, such as by ability level, skills mastered, or age.

The following model descriptions will assist you in selecting the correct model based on certain criteria.

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Peer Tutoring Models

There are many different ways you can group students to tutor each other. It’s important that you, the teacher, make sure that any material being reviewed by tutor groups is accurately assessed in these groups.

Peer tutoring is not meant for introducing new materials or concepts. You need to monitor for understanding on both ends.

  • Class Wide Peer Tutoring (CWPT): In this model, the whole class is divided into pairs or small groups no larger than five. The groups should include students with different ability levels. For example, you would use this model if the whole class were preparing for a school-wide spelling bee.

  • Cross-Age Peer Tutoring: Younger students are paired with an older student. The older student is there to model good behavioral, functional, adaptive, or social skills. For example, a second grader could be paired with a kindergarten student to show them how to walk to the cafeteria, get a lunch tray, select foods, and find a place to sit.
  • Peer Assisted Learning Strategies (PALS): Students are paired with students around the same ability level. The tutee and tutor roles can change based on which student needs help on a particular skill. For example, one student may help their partner with science vocabulary words, and then the partner may change roles and help the other student with multiplication facts.

How to Select Tutors ; Models

When selecting students to serve as tutors, be mindful of which students will be most helpful.

You have to consider personalities, academic needs, behaviors, and preferences. Pairs should not be randomly selected when possible to deter disruptions during the tutoring sessions.The model you use will be determined by the learning objective. You may have to teach students their roles in each group; do not expect them to know what they’re supposed to do as tutee or tutor. You should model each role for them.

Benefits of Using Peer Tutors

The following are some of the many benefits of using a peer tutoring model in the classroom:

  • Students receive more one-on-one time.

  • Active learning is promoted by direct interaction between students.
  • By teaching others, the peer tutors are reinforcing their own learning.
  • There is a sense of openness students feel with each other that’s different than what they experience with a teacher. They’re more willing to ask their peers a question in a small group setting rather than in front of the whole class.

  • Using peers to tutor is more cost effective than hiring more additional staff.
  • Peer tutoring provides teachers with additional time to work on planning upcoming lessons.

Disadvantages of Using Peer Tutors

The benefits seem to outweigh the disadvantages, but you should consider the following issues before you commit to using a peer tutoring model in your classroom:

  • Upfront training time
  • Constant monitoring of peer groups
  • Behavioral problems in groups
  • Bullying by older or higher ability students

Lesson Summary

Peer tutoring is a strategy that uses students to help other students with academic, behavioral, or social deficits. There are many different models of peer tutoring, including Class Wide Peer Tutoring (CWPT), which involves the whole class working on the same objective; Cross-Age Peer Tutoring, which pairs older students and younger students who usually work on social skills; and Peer Assisted Learning Strategies (PALS), in which the tutor and tutee often exchange roles. Peer tutoring is not for introducing new lessons.The pros of using peer tutoring include the low cost and that it leaves more time for the teacher to work on other things. The students get more one-on-one time and are able to reinforce their own learning by teaching others.

These models also give students the opportunity to ask questions or make comments they might not normally bring up in class.The cons of using peer tutoring include the time it takes to train tutors and tutees on what their roles and duties are. You must constantly watch each group to make sure they’re on task and the content is being taught correctly. Also, anytime students are in groups without a teacher, there are opportunities for disruptions.

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