Peer Tutoring in the Classroom


When a student performs very well at algebra and finishes an assignment in 10 minutes, a teacher’s first instinct may be to give the student 20 extra problems to keep them busy. But some students might be turned off by this and in the future work just work slower so they won’t get extra problems anymore. Giving extra work doesn’t work well with every gifted student. That is why peer tutoring is a good alternative.

Peer tutoring programs in colleges and schools have proven to be a very successful differentiated instructional strategy, so why wouldn’t we incorporate this concept in the everyday classroom? Peer tutoring benefits both the tutor and student being tutored and is a great approach for more individualized attention.

Michelle Nguyen from Duke University researched this topic and stated, “peer tutoring has been used across academic subjects, and has been found to result in improvement in academic achievement for a diversity of learners within a wide range of content areas.” She goes on to say that peer tutoring “facilitates both cognitive and social gains in both higher-performing mentors and low-performing mentees in an individualized and positive way.”

This method is great in an everyday classroom because it is differentiated for both the tutor and student being tutored. For example, if a student in an art class finishes a drawing project easily and quickly, the student can go around and help other students that may struggle with drawing. The tutor improves even more on their drawing skills and gains communication skills while the other student gets one-on-one attention to improve their drawing abilities. You just want to make sure to change up tutors so every student can get a chance to help. That same student that was gifted in drawing might struggle with sculpting and maybe the student that struggled with drawing might be great at sculpting and could help that student.

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