Getting started

Planning a program and identifying objectives

Peer tutoring » Getting started

1. Planning a program and identifying objectives

Professor Keith Topping suggests the following when planning a peer tutoring program:

  • Consider what benefits the program is expected to have. This is important for marketing, recruitment and subsequent evaluation purposes.
  • The program should not interfere with the regular school curriculum, but should dovetail into it. Keep the objectives modest for your first attempt. Do it small and well.
  • As part of the planning, the following would need to be considered to integrate a peer tutoring program within the school day:

    1. Time - class time/ break time/ both; fixed or various?
    2. Place - classroom/ leisure or play area/other?
    3. Duration - 15, 20, 30 minutes?
    4. Frequency – It can be used once or twice a week. 'We have found once a week it reaps benefits' Prof Allen Thurston
    5. Project Period - 6, 8, 10 weeks?

Find out more:

Planning a paired reading program

Sample planning documents that were originally designed for use in parent tutored or in peer tutored reading projects.

2. Pairing students

Though both pupils involved gain, cross-age tutoring appears to offer slightly greater benefit for tutor than tutee. A study of cross-age peer tutoring showed that the lowest attaining pairs actually made most progress, and a two-year gap seems to support both tutee and tutor learning.

One way of matching pupils across classes is to match the highest attaining pupil in the older class with the highest attaining child in the younger class through to the lowest attaining pupil in the older class being matched with the lowest attaining pupil in the younger class (making adjustments if necessary). This enables the teacher to focus support on lower attaining pairs. - Education Endowment Foundation

3. Training

Training is essential and should be carried out with both tutor and tutee present. A training session should include verbal, visual and written information-giving (bilingual if necessary). It should also have a demonstration, immediate practice with a real live activity, feedback for participants about how they did and further individual coaching for those who are struggling.

The videos below can be used as part of a training program to introduce peer tutoring techniques to students.

Paired reading

Paired thinking

Paired mathematics

Paired thinking: Tips for tutors

  • Paired thinking tips for tutors along with example questions for tutors to ask before, during and after reading.

Paired reading: A guide for peer tutors

  • An introductory guide for student tutors and for parent tutors to paired reading.

Paired reading: A flowchart

  • A flowchart that can be adapted for tutors to use during paired reading.

4. Monitoring progress

Emphasise self-checking. Some simple form of self-recording is desirable, and both members of the pair should participate in this. Periodic checking of these records by the coordinating professional takes relatively little professional time but is very valuable in making everyone feel as if they are working together.

If the time is available, direct observation of the pair in action, either in school or at their home, can be extremely revealing and diagnostically helpful. This can be done on an individual basis with a pair who are having particular difficulty, or in a group setting at a more general "booster" meeting.

Find out more:

Sample reading record

  • In reading projects, the pairs often keep a diary or record of what they have done. Have a look at this example reading record.

Dictionary of praise

  • A lot of 'helpers' soon find it hard to think of new things to write. This little book makes it easy. It has many ideas about words of praise to use.

5. Evaluating

Turning from monitoring the process of paired learning activities to evaluating their products or outcomes, be clear as to the objectives of evaluation.

Feeding general data on their success back to the participants may well increase their longer term motivation.

Find out more:

Paired reading – Evaluation

  • These evaluation documents encourage pupils, parents, teachers, tutors and tutees to reflect on the paired reading exercise and the progress that has been made.

Paired writing - Evaluation forms

  • The forms support the tutor to monitor, prompt and praise the pupil, as well as trouble-shoot when problems are encountered.

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