Academic journal article College and University

PEER TUTORING at Colleges and Universities

Academic journal article College and University

PEER TUTORING at Colleges and Universities

Article excerpt

Peer tutoring is increasingly popular in higher education. Although many tutoring services focus on assisting tutees, numerous studies note that student tutors as well as tutees benefit (Yook and Kim 2014). Peer tutoring involves individuals from similar groups who are not professional instructors and is "a system whereby learners help each other and learn by teaching" (Mynard and Almarzouqi 2006, 13). It is not uncommon for academic programs or student residence halls to provide peer tutoring or mentoring. Peer tutoring is defined as taking on a specific role: Someone has the job of tutor while the other(s) is (are) in the role of tutee(s) (Topping 1998). Student tutors help other students via any number of different organizations on campus, including writing centers, statistical consulting offices, communication centers, teaching assistant offices, and residence halls, among others. Within and outside of classroom settings, peer tutoring is likely to imply equal status and merit.

Because the roles of peer tutors vary, the terms 'peer tutoring,' 'peer coaching,' and 'peer mentoring' are virtually interchangeable. 'Peer mentoring' (of inexperienced mentees by experienced mentors) may be used in place of 'peer tutoring.' Advanced students or upperclassmen often serve as tutors for less academically prepared tutees (who often are also underclassmen).

The word 'proctor' is also used to refer to students who help other students, though the role is quite different from that of peer tutor. At universities in the United Kingdom, a proctor is responsible for administering discipline (Saunders 1992). According to usage in the United States, a proctor is a more advanced student who tests less advanced students or who tutors peer students (Saunders 1992). Bruffee (1993) notes that peer tutoring is of two types: "monitor type," using college students as institutional manpower, and "collaborative type," mobilizing interdependence and peer influence for educational ends. Most peer tutoring programs are a mixture of the two.

Peer tutoring is an important way for tutors and tutees to develop their knowledge and skills. The roles and benefits of peer tutoring are considered here from the perspectives of (a) learning and teaching, (b) interdepartmental collaboration, and (c) resource saving. Current use of peer tutoring and coaching in various campus units (e.g:, communication or writing centers, residence halls) is also discussed, and some recommendations regarding peer tutoring are shared. Peer tutoring achieves (or at least attempts) deep approaches to learning. For some students, it is an opportunity to test their aptitude or interest in teaching.


Recently, there has been a pronounced movement toward student-centered learning. Students are being asked to take more responsibility for the curriculum and to engage in self- and peer assessment. A capability initiative by the Royal Society of Arts (rsa) stresses the development of transferable skills in higher education (Ball 1990). RSA priorities are to prepare graduates for a career change later in life by helping them develop "crossover" skills that facilitate adaptation to new situations. This emphasis in British education on transferable skills contrasts with that in the United States on liberal arts education.


Writing or communication centers seem to be the most popular places in higher education in which to receive tutoring; they employ many student tutors. This suggests that developing written and oral communication skills is important across all of the academic fields. The most popular type of support or initiative in academic support centers is planned sessions between advanced and less advanced students. Some instructors may choose to use writing, speaking, or other academic centers for student learning.

In addition, there are many discipline-specific tutoring systems and tutoring methods. …

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