Tall Buddies: Peer-Assisted Learning Initiative Term Paper

Background and Overview.

The growing body of scholarly evidence concerning peer tutoring has been consistent in emphasizing the powerful effects that children can exert on the academic and interpersonal development of their classmates and/or other students (Ehly & Topping, 1998). For example, Bloom (1984) reported early on that one-on-one tutoring by a fully skilled peer was more effective than both conventional (i.e., teachers' lecturing) and mastery learning (i.e., student- regulated) methods of teaching. Across several replications of academic content and student age levels, Bloom (1984) reported that peer tutoring programs produced effect sizes on the order of 2 standard deviations above the mean of the control group (i.e., students receiving conventional lecture-based instruction), compared with 1.3 standard deviations for mastery learning (effect sizes larger than.25 of 1 standard deviation were described as educationally significant) (Ehly & Topping, 1998). Likewise, Slavin (1990) even enthuses that, "One-to-one tutoring is the most effective form of instruction known" (emphasis added) (p. 44). Besides these benefits to the tutee, peer tutoring programs have been shown to provide improved academic outcomes when they are used on a same-age, cross-age, and class-wide basis; moreover, many empirical investigations have documented that mutual benefits accrue from the systematic use of peer tutoring programs wherein children who serve as tutors frequently achieve academic gains comparable to those who receive tutorial assistance (Ehly & Topping, 1998).

Generally speaking, peer tutoring programs create alternative teaching arrangements in which students act as instructional agents for one another (Harper, Maheady, & Mallete, 1994). Peer tutoring also provides opportunities for students to discuss content and processes of reading, and the studies to date suggest that specific methods can enhance students ability to monitor their processes and that the social context plays a major role in supporting students understanding of these strategies (Afflerbach, Baumann, Duffy-Hester, Hoffman, McCarthey & Ro, 2000). The potential advantages of peer tutoring programs include providing a framework that allows the teacher to customize instruction to the needs of individual students and to provide a higher number of instructional trials in one-on-one or small group teaching formats (Fister et al., 2001).

This model assigns some of the main sub-processes into one of five categories. The first of these again includes organizational or structural features of the learning interaction, such as the need and press inherent in peer-assisted learning toward increased time on task (t.o.t.) and time engaged with task (t.e.t.), the need for both helper and helped to elaborate goals and plans, the individualization of learning and immediacy of feedback possible within the one-on-one situation, and the sheer excitement and variety of a different kind of learning interaction. To help determine what specific type of peer-tutoring is involved, Falchikov provides the algorithm in Figure __ below.

Figure ____. Varieties of peer tutoring.

Source: Falchikov, 2001, p. 8.

From a cognitive perspective, peer-assisted learning alternatives involve both conflict and challenge; they also involve support and scaffolding from the more competent other participant, within the so-called "Zone of Proximal Development" of both the tutor and the tutee (Harrison, 2001, p. 157). According to this author, "The cognitive demands upon the helper in terms of detecting, diagnosing, and correcting errors and misconceptions is substantial - and herein lies much of the cognitive exercise and benefit for the helper" (Harrison, 2001, p. 157).

Peer-assisted learning also places heavy demands upon the communication skills of both helper and helped, but in so doing these initiatives also serve to develop those skills. For all participants, they might never have truly grasped a concept until they had to explain it to another, embodying and crystallizing thought into language. The affective component of peer-assisted learning can also prove very powerful. A trusting relationship with a peer who does not occupy a position of authority might well facilitate self-disclosure of ignorance and misconception, thereby enabling subsequent diagnosis and correction (Harrison, 2001). Likewise, modeling of enthusiasm and competence and the simple possibility of a successful outcome by the tutor can influence the self-confidence of the tutee, while a sense of loyalty and accountability to each other might provide the motivation needed to keep the two participants focused and on-task (Harrison, 2001). Previous research that has sought to identify why and how peer-tutoring is effective have pointed to the role of specific interactions in promoting learning during tutoring and other peer-directed small group learning (Adelgais, King & Staffieri, 1998).

Some of the peer interactions that have been identified as being effective are those that support students' engagement in higher order cognitive processes; such interactions include:

Providing elaborated explanations;

Asking appropriate questions (question asking during tutoring has also been found to facilitate learning when the questions are ones that require higher order cognitive processes);

Providing sufficient time for the partner to think before being expected to respond to a question; and,

Using supportive communication skills such as listening attentively to a partner's response and giving feedback and encouragement (Adelgais et al., 1998).

Figure ____ below highlights mechanisms through which both tutor and tutee might gain improved academic outcomes:

Figure ____. Theoretical model of peer-assisted learning.

Source: Harrison, 2001, p. 158.

The following rationales in Table ____ below are identified by Falchikov (2001) for using...


Table ____.

Rationales for using some cross-level peer-tutoring techniques within an institution.



Aim/desired outcome

Supplemental Instruction (SI) system whereby 2nd year students act as 'leaders' to help 1st year students in 'at risk' courses

To support students and help reduce drop-out and failure

To encourage cooperative learning

To help students master course content


The relationship between a less experienced person and a more experienced partner who guides and supports the less experienced in a variety of contexts (e.g. higher education; pre-tertiary education; business)

To provide guidance, advice, feedback and support to the less experienced mentee

To improve overall academic performance

To encourage mentee personal growth

Proctoring or Keller's Personalized System of Instruction (PSI) system whereby an experienced undergraduate helps a beginner, often under the guidance of an academic

To help a beginner undergraduate to achieve mastery in a particular area

To help beginners become part of the academic culture

To help proctors develop leadership, team building and communication skills


Students counseling students

To provide counseling support to freshmen

To help freshmen adapt to the new educational environment

To improve freshmen's practical problem-solving and study skills

Source: Falchikov, 2001, p. 38.

Table ____.

Rationales for using some group peer-tutoring techniques.


Aim/desired outcome

Guided Reciprocal Peer Questioning (RPQ)

To help students comprehend and remember the content of lectures, training sessions, etc.

To facilitate encoding and retrieval of information

Structured Academic Controversy (SAC)

To use disagreement and conflict to aid learning

To increase motivation and involvement of students

The Jigsaw Classroom

To aid integration of children from different ethnic backgrounds and to improve self-esteem and liking for school of minority-group children

To improve pre-service teacher preparation through co-operative learning

To improve students' academic and social learning

Syndicate method

To help cope with differing needs and expectations of international students

Team learning

To strengthen students comfort level with and skills in teamwork

Source: Falchikov, 2001, p. 61.


Traditional procedures used to improve the implementation of peer-tutoring reading program initiatives have been based on direct observation and feedback from consultants; such consultants have provided feedback that has improved the quality of such program implementation in a number of ways.

Recommendations provided by a consultant are contextually specific and appropriate to the needs of the teacher, based on observational and quantitative data;

Consultant are capable of diagnosing and prescribing changes in the teacher's implementation of the peer-tutoring program, using students' pre- and post-peer-tutoring progress information;

consultant can model and show the teacher how to use these same methods and student progress data as a basis for making decisions about program changes and improvements (Arreaga-Mayer, Gavin & Greenwood et al., 2001).

Based on such consultant's assessments, advice, and feedback to teachers, there has frequently been measurable improvements achieved in program quality and student progress (Arreaga-Mayer et al., 2001). Because resources are by definition scarce, though, many schools may not be able to afford such professional assistance and such obligatory consultation service may serve as a roadblock to gaining approval for such initiatives in the first place. Therefore, regardless of the specific type of peer-assisted reading program used, educators are advised to take advantage of the insights and empirical observations that can be gained from past initiatives to this end:

Children need preparation and practice if group work is likely to pay dividends, so immediate success should not be expected. In the case of peer tutoring, tutors need some training.

The structuring of work groups or tutoring pairs by ability…

Sources Used in Documents:


Adelgais, a., King, a., & Staffieri, a. (1998). Mutual peer tutoring: Effects of structuring tutorial interaction to scaffold peer learning. Journal of Educational Psychology, 90(1), 134.

Afflerbach, P., Baumann, J.F., Duffy-Hester, a.M., Hoffman, J.V., McCarthey, S.J. & Ro, J.M. (2000). Balancing principles for teaching elementary reading. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Arreaga-Mayer, C., Gavin, K.M., Greenwood, C.R., Terry, B.T., & Utley, C.A. (2001). Classwide peer tutoring learning management system. Remedial and Special Education, 22(1), 34.

Bloom, B.S. (1984). The 2 sigma problem: The search for methods of group instruction as effective as one-to-one tutoring. Educational Researcher, 13, 4-16.

Cite this Document:

"Tall Buddies Peer-Assisted Learning Initiative" (2007, July 05) Retrieved May 26, 2024, from

"Tall Buddies Peer-Assisted Learning Initiative" 05 July 2007. Web.26 May. 2024. <

"Tall Buddies Peer-Assisted Learning Initiative", 05 July 2007, Accessed.26 May. 2024,

Related Documents

Peer Pressure define peer pressure describe how it can be positive or negative describe how negative consequences most important because of the problems describe what will be covered: causes, impact, solutions Causes of Peer Pressure normal part of growing up psychology of adolescence Impact of Peer Pressure describe it as a positive force deviance ( alcohol, drugs, crime, antisocial behavior) pressure is there but only impacts a few and then contributes, rather than causes Emotional Impact of

Peer pressure. Our teachers think about it, our parents worry about it, and we have to deal with it every day. In fact, the words "peer pressure" are thrown about as if it is always a bad thing. I believe, however, that there is a good side as well as a bad side to it. We all know what peer pressure is. It is the influence your friends have over you

Although the teen's parents may be the pillars of good and upright community and society, generally the teen is looking outward for role models. Many good role models can be found within the community in the form of sports coaches, teachers, community leaders and so forth. When a parent sees that a teen admires an individual that is of good character and lives a lifestyle that is upright and

The findings of this study support the view that the effects of peer pressure are related to earlier processes in childhood. This has led to the recognized research imperative to "...include longitudinal data from both peer and family contexts in studies of trajectories leading to adolescent problem behaviors" (p.45). In other words, the study points to the importance of a more holistic approach to understanding the motivational impetus and

Other factors included family problems and family substance abuse. Two common aspects occurred in all three blocks: first, interaction between the individual and the collective perspective; and second, the relationship between the subject's interior (e.g., individual, family) and exterior (e.g., environment and peer pressure) facets (Alvarez, et all 2006)." One of the interviews revealed a combination of peer pressure and family problems as the catalyst for her drug debut. Female, 16 years

Accordingly, family-based prevention programs for youth have been developed, which significantly delay initiation of alcohol use by improving parenting skills and family bonding. During adolescence, peers play a large part in a young person's life and typically replace family as the center of a teen's social and leisure activities. But teenagers have various peer relationships, and they interact with many peer groups. Often "peer cultures" have very different values and