The Benefits of Peer Tutoring & Cross-Age Tutoring

A Summary of the Research

Given all of the duties that educators must fulfill on a daily basis, training and planning for a peer tutor, cross-age tutor or student instructional aide to work in your classroom can sometimes feel a bit overwhelming; however, the investment of time and effort generally results in a very rewarding experience for everyone.

There are many ways that peer tutors, cross-age tutors and student classroom aides can support instruction. Some of the vital tasks that they can perform to enhance learning in your classroom include:
  • Listening to students read aloud
  • Leading games, learning stations or other activities that reinforce skills
  • Assisting students in utilizing a planner, homework assignment notebook, or work plan
  • Helping students to develop a system for recording due dates, upcoming assignments and tests
  • Assisting students with organizing their backpacks and/or desks
  • Working with students to create study guides
  • Quizzing students on important information for upcoming tests
  • Assisting students with proofreading and editing their work
  • Checking student homework
  • Providing students with extra practice with new or difficult concepts
  • Helping students to create flashcards and review notes 
  • Reading aloud to students
  • Monitoring small group work
  • Accompanying students to different locations around campus such as to the library or computer lab
  • Assisting the teacher with documenting progress, preparing materials and grading assignments

Utilizing peer tutors, cross-age tutors and student instructional aides has many significant and well-documented benefits. The following is a summary of the research specifically documenting the benefits of peer tutoring and cross-age tutoring for tutees, tutors, teachers and schools.
Benefits to Students Receiving Tutoring
Studies have shown that participation in tutoring programs results in both academic and affective improvements for a variety of at-risk students including learning disabled, English language learners, low achieving students, students from underprivileged backgrounds and students with behavioral challenges. Students receiving tutoring improved academic performance, study skills, organization, classroom participation and motivation. Students also benefited from the opportunity to interact with peers and older student role-models in a positive and productive manner demonstrating improved social skills and time on task. These benefits have been witnessed among both regular and special education students across a variety of different subject areas and at all grade levels including elementary school, middle school, high school and college.
Benefits to Students Serving as Peer Tutors or Cross-Age Tutors 
Students serving as tutors or classroom student aides also benefited greatly from participation in peer tutoring or cross-age tutoring programs. Tutors strengthened and deepened understanding of the content they were tutoring, gained an increased sense of confidence and personal efficacy and developed responsibility and empathy. Research also found that student tutors demonstrated improved attendance and reduced tardiness and truancy. Serving as a peer tutor, cross-age tutor or student classroom aide also provided students with the opportunity to gain insight into the learning process and a better understanding of the field of teaching.
Benefits to Teachers, Schools and Academic Institutions 
The availability of peer tutoring or cross-age tutoring was found to be beneficial to schools in that it provided an opportunity for students to receive individualized attention and support in an extremely cost-effective manner. Utilizing peer tutors and student aides during class provided teachers with increased opportunities to differentiate instruction, time to more effectively manage behaviors and address individual student issues, the option to provide more guidance during small group work, and an increased ability to accommodate the diverse set of needs demonstrated by their students. Utilizing peer and cross-age tutors promoted a more cooperative classroom environment and led to improved student attitudes toward the subject matter. Peer and cross-age tutoring programs also provided another avenue by which students who may otherwise be hesitant to approach teachers or professors could access help. Many students reported that they felt more comfortable and were less intimidated approaching a peer tutor or cross-age tutor to ask questions, discuss class material, gain clarification and receive extra assistance.
If you are interested in learning how to create a peer tutoring program or if you need peer tutoring tips and strategies, please review my article about the components of successful peer tutoring and classroom aide programs. You may also view and download several free peer tutoring resources to use with your students including a handout listing Dos and Don’ts for Peer Tutors & Instructional Aides and a Tutor & Aide Code of Ethics and Commitment Form.

Please feel free to contact me if you would like additional information. I am happy to respond to any questions or comments and to hear about your experiences working with peer tutors, cross-age tutors and instructional aides.