When earning an MS in Education (MSEd), teachers learn effective ways to shape young lives, improve student outcomes, and stay at the forefront of their field. They also learn how to design learning experiences that incorporate students’ strengths by building on prior background and addressing the learning needs of a diverse student population. One effective way to incorporate students’ strengths is through peer tutoring, which involves asking students to take the lead teaching each other—allowing students of different abilities to work together and build on each other’s strengths.*
When students struggle, sometimes they feel more comfortable going to their peers for help. Modeling a centuries-old way of learning, peer tutoring has become an increasingly popular teaching strategy in America’s classrooms.†
According to the Peer Tutoring Resource Center, “peer tutoring is an evidence-based, student-led instructional strategy used to support improved academic achievement and social-emotional outcomes.”‡ Peer tutoring is an additional resource for teachers and a valuable way for students to demonstrate excellence in one subject while learning a different topic from a classmate who has mastered another.*
Benefits of Peer Tutoring
In addition to mastering aspects of the curriculum, students engaged in peer tutoring enhance their ability to work in teams and cultivate relationships with each other. They also tend to have greater self-esteem and communication skills while improving their productivity and academic achievement.§ Peer tutoring is also known to improve learning outcomes for diverse student groups, including English language learners and those with learning disabilities.‡
Benefits of this model of instruction extend to teachers and schools alike. Teachers gain time to focus on their next lesson and spend time with those students who need more instruction or attention. Schools can save money by not adding more teachers to their roster.§
Effective Education for Teachers and Students
To make peer tutoring effective, teachers should consider incorporating the following:
- Choosing partners. Though students often prefer to pair with a friend, it may not ensure that tutors are knowledgeable enough in the subject. Teacher-formed pairings are based on knowledge and skill criteria and increase the likelihood of positive learning outcomes.**
- Clear, concise instructions. Teachers assume the role of coach in peer tutoring, and therefore it’s important to clearly communicate expectations for the tutor and tutee and how they each are expected to behave and complete the assignment.**
- A personalized approach. Matching curricula to how well students understand the subject helps ensure peer tutoring success.** Peer tutoring is not meant to replace teachers or introduce new material.††
- Evaluation. Evaluating the tutee’s level of understanding will help identify whether the pairings need to be shuffled as well as if the peer tutoring program is effective as a whole.**
- Reward system. By demonstrating an excellent understanding of the topic, the tutee can help earn a reward of some sort for both members of the peer group.**
In addition to the peer tutoring strategy, an MSEd degree program can further help teachers use data-informed practices to design, implement, and assess differentiated instruction. An advanced degree from an accredited university equips teachers with the ability to apply pedagogical and discipline-specific knowledge, skills, and dispositions to support the learning and development of their students.
Walden University is an accredited institution offering online education degree programs, including the MS in Education (MSEd). Expand your career options and earn your degree using a convenient, flexible learning platform that fits your busy life.
*National Education Association, “Research Spotlight on Peer Tutoring,” on the internet at www.nea.org/tools/35542.htm.
†Peer Tutoring Resource Center, “R.A.D Schwartz Foundation: Introduction to Peer Tutoring,” on the internet at www.youtube.com/watch?v=N8spwTanxoE.
‡Peer Tutoring Resource Center, “Why Peer Tutoring?” on the internet at www.peertutoringresource.org/why-peer-tutoring.
§S. Briggs, “How Peer Teaching Improves Student Learning and 10 Ways to Encourage It,” informED, on the internet at www.opencolleges.edu.au/informed/features/peer-teaching/.
**S. Killian, “30 Practical Ways You Can Use These Strategies in the Classroom,” Australian Society for Evidence Based Teaching, on the internet at www.evidencebasedteaching.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/How-You-Can-Use-These-Strategies-In-The-Classroom-Final.pdf.
††Peer Tutoring Resource Center, “K–12 Peer Tutoring Frequently Asked Questions,” on the internet at www.peertutoringresource.org/k12-peer-tutoring-faq/.
Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, www.hlcommission.org.