Peer tutoring is a flexible and efficient strategy that involves students playing the roles of academic tutors in an educational facility. As a rule, a student with higher academic performance is paired with the lower-performing student in order to revise critical academic or behavioral aspects of learning. Peer tutoring is often chosen for its effectiveness in increasing learning opportunities for all students, encouraging engagement in the classroom, enhancing self-efficacy among students, as well as promoting social development in groups of learners.
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It is important to remember that peer tutors require a particular type of training when being prepared for the accomplishment of their roles. For example, a peer tutor should be taught about establishing the rules of confidentiality when reporting the learning progress; moreover, there is a need to teach tutors-to-be how to provide constructive feedback for the responses of trainees as well as the effective strategies for monitoring the overall progress of the tutoring.
The current research will aim to answer the question of whether there is a relationship between peer tutoring and international students’ English learning outcomes. Since international students are tremendously challenged by English language acquisition, there is a need for educational researchers to come up with practical tools for enhancing their learning.
The topic of peer tutoring is vast as it has already gained attention from different theorists and practitioners that invested in studying it. This paper will focus on presenting a literature review of prominent works on peer tutoring to determine researchers’ views on the topic, the role of peer tutoring in educational research, as well as trends that prevail in the academic works.
Peer Tutoring and Language Learning
Bowman-Perrott et al. (2013) focused on studying the educational benefits of peer tutoring and found that moderate to large academic benefits have been attributed to this model of teaching (p. 39). By conducting a meta-analysis with twenty-six studies published between 1984 and 2011, the researchers found that the overall effect of peer tutoring on the academic performance of students was positive (Bowman-Perrott et al., 2013, p. 47), which points to the effectiveness of the method and its potential of being used in the future academic practice.
Moreover, it was found that peer-tutoring models that involved a system of rewards for students were even more effective compared to the ones that did not; this suggests that the usage of rewards in achieving better academic outcomes is a useful strategy that should not be overlooked by educators. Bowman-Perrott et al. (2013) also found that peer tutoring with the use of older students as a means for motivation has been particularly effective for those students who experienced academic difficulties (p. 49).
Research by Arco-Tirado, Fernandez-Martin, and Fernandez-Balboa (2011) studied the impact of peer tutoring on preventing academic failure along with identifying the potential benefits of such programs on students’ cognitive and metacognitive learning strategies and social skills of students-mentors (p. 773). By integrating the concept of PTP (an educational program designed to enhance learning and teaching among freshmen and their tutors through focusing on specific aspects of their development), researchers found that PTP did not have a statistically significant influence on the GPA of freshmen (Arco-Tirado et al., 2011, p. 780).
On the other hand, Arco-Tirado et al. (2011) found a statistically significant difference between the treatment of freshmen and control groups in their metacognitive and cognitive strategies (p. 780). Furthermore, when initial data was compared with post-experiment data, it was found that ptp had a statistically significant impact on cognitive and metacognitive strategies. Apart from trainees, PTP also proved to be beneficial for tutors regarding their social skills as well as cognitive and metacognitive skills.
Mackiewicz, Wood, Cooke, and Mazzotti (2010) took a unique approach to peer tutoring and aimed to answer the question of whether peer tutoring with audio prompting had positive effects on vocabulary acquisition of struggling readers (p. 1). The study had the purpose of comparing the effects of vocabulary words’ incidental learning and incidental learning, paired with peer tutoring that included audio prompting procedures.
The data collected post-experiment showed that struggling readers did not gain many benefits from incidental learning; however, incidental learning plus peer tutoring showed to be more efficient, especially with the added feature of audio prompting (Mackiewicz et al., 2010, p. 8). The procedures of peer tutoring were predominantly explicit and were made up of different opportunities to practice saying and defining new words as well as applying them in a different context for a better understanding. Similarly to the findings of many other studies, this research managed to demonstrate the beneficial impact of peer and parent tutoring with the use of audio prompting to support the unskilled tutor and improve the English vocabulary of a preschooler with limited proficiency in the language as well as the acquisition of sight words by a kindergartener (Mackiewicz et al., 2010, p. 8).
It is important to point out the study’s unique approach towards peer tutoring since it integrated a particular learning tool of audio prompting to determine whether it would have an impact on vocabulary acquisition.
Another study that examined peer tutoring in the context of language learning was the research of Klingbeil, Moeyaert, Archer, Chimboza, & Zwolski Jr. (2017) that focused on determining the efficacy of peer-mediated incremental rehearsal (PMIR) for English language learners whose proficiency in the English language limits their ability to successfully access the learning material (p. 123). Klingbeil et al. (2017) integrated the concept of incremental rehearsal (an evidence-based intervention for teaching new words) to see whether peer tutoring would show better results (p. 122).
Neddenriep, Skinner, Wallace, and McCallum (2009) focused on reviewing the effects of ClassWide Peer Tutoring (CWPT) on the increased oral reading fluency and reading comprehension (p. 244). Researchers found that peer tutoring enhanced learners’ reading comprehension in both experiments. Moreover, since the experiments conducted by researchers included comprehension rate and level, peer-mediated learning showed improvements in both levels, pointing at its overall effectiveness in second language acquisition.
Bowman-Perrott, deMarin, Mahadevan, and Etchells (2016) also focused on the English language acquisition with regards to assessing the academic, social, and language production outcomes for students engaged in peer tutoring (p. 359). Overall, the researchers found that peer tutoring is an effective method for encouraging academic gains for English language learners with different levels of language proficiency. Furthermore, English language learners seem to obtain both social and educational benefits from getting instructions from their peers who are native English language speakers (Bowman-Perrott et al., 2016, p. 378).
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Researchers stated that further investigation was needed for examining the effect of peer tutoring on English language learners across many academic contexts. Due to the fact that the sphere of English language learning currently faces tremendous challenges, there should be a continuous investigation of effective methods of enhancing students language acquisition and discovering new strategies for improving instruction.
When it comes to reading skills, the effect of peer tutoring was examined by Kourea, Cartledge, and Musti-Rao (2007), who conducted their experiments in the context of urban elementary schools (p. 95). According to the findings of the research, all participants of the study managed to learn more new words in the context of peer tutoring instruction compared to teacher-led instruction. Concerning reading fluency and comprehension, all students showed an improvement in these skills: the target group of students showed improved fluency gains on the constructed paragraphs (Kourea et al., 2007, p. 101).
The total class peer tutoring showed to be an effective practice that proved to improve sight word acquisition, maintenance, reading fluency, and comprehension among six students from an urban elementary school, which is consistent with previous studies that suggested that peer instruction could be very effective in the context of language learning. Despite the fact that only one student out of six showed smaller improvements in the sight-word acquisition by the end of the study, the overall impact of total class peer tutoring was considered as beneficial and helpful in enhancing students reading skills.
Peer Tutoring and Other Learning Settings
Hawkins, Musti-Rao, Hughes, Berry, and McGuire (2009) also applied the concept of peer tutoring to the context of classwide instruction (p. 300), although with regards to students’ multiplication fact fluency. Due to the fact that many classrooms across the country face the challenges of academic failure, there is a need for educational researchers to come with effective methods of instruction to enhance students academic achievement.
Classwide peer tutoring is an instruction model where students are paired by the teacher to work on various academic tasks, during which they should provide feedback on each other’s work and reinforce the practices of teaching and learning (Hawkins et al., 2009, p. 301).
The results of the study suggested that classwide peer tutoring had a positive effect on students’ math performance due to the reinforcement of reward contingencies that were actually used during the program’s implementation (Hawkins et al., 2009, p. 313). It is important to mention that the results of this study supported the previous findings that also suggested that students’ proficiency in math could be enhanced with the help of classwide peer tutoring. Thus, it can be concluded that the research was effective in supporting the overall benefits of peer tutoring, even in the context of math learning.
Ensergueix and Lafont (2011) had an objective of comparing the impact of two different forms of reciprocal peer tutoring (trained and spontaneous) on the cognitive and motor performance of adolescents in a physical education setting (p. 381). Furthermore, researchers integrated the concept of gender into the study to determine whether the motor and cognitive performance differ among males and females. With regard to the impact of learning conditions, trained reciprocal peer tutoring showed higher scores for both cognitive and motor performance compared to spontaneous, as found by Ensergueix and Lafont (2011, p. 393).
Such a finding can be explained by the fact that trained tutors tend to be more prepared and competent in determining errors during learning and giving advice in the context of many tutoring situations. Regarding the gender differences, it was expected that female participants would show lower motor outcomes compared to males; nevertheless, the research did not find a significant difference in CR scores despite the fact that males did outperform females in the AE scores (Ensergueix & Lafont, 2011, p. 394).
Nevertheless, despite the predictions, the results of the research did not show a significant difference between spontaneous reciprocal peer tutoring and the individual control conditions during both post-test; this does not align with the results of other experiments that concluded that the majority of students usually had better cognitive and motor performance during the dyadic practice compared to the individual (Ensergueix & Lafont, 2011, p. 393).
Concerning the benefits of peer tutoring, Comfort (2011) focused on discovering the effect of peer tutoring on academic achievement during practical assessments in applied sports science students (p. 207). According to the findings of the study, students that received peer tutoring showed better academic achievement compared to those students that were not peer tutored (Comfort, 2011, p. 209). These findings support the results of previous studies that showed that students that experienced peer tutoring usually improved their transferable skills and attained higher grades (Comfort, 2011, p. 209).
Comfort (2011) reached the results that show important implications for future research and the development of specific practical skills that will potentially help in enhancing students’ employability (especially in the areas of sports science) (p. 210). Because the undergraduate studies usually imply a lot of individual work and self-directed learning, there is a lack of structured feedback that leads to inadequate progress. Thus, the results of this study are similar to the ones discussed previously since it concluded that peer tutoring is an effective method for enhancing students’ achievement and eliminating the limitations of self-directed learning.
The purpose of the study would be to examine the impact of peer tutoring on international students with regard to enhancing their English language acquisition. In order to determine the effect, mixed-methods research will be conducted since the question calls for both qualitative and quantitative data. Quantitative data will come from surveys conducted with the 8-graders of a middle school, while qualitative data will come from interviews. The study will be correlational since it would study the connectedness between international students’ English language acquisition and the incorporation of peer tutoring instruction.
Context and Participants
Since middle school is a context that will allow the researcher to access a large population of students, it was chosen to conduct the experiment in the school setting. The GPA indicator will measure the success of international students’ achievement. For the sake of the study, international students with the GPA of 3.5 and greater will be asked to participate; it will also be important to ask for the help of teachers when it comes to conducting surveys for the reasons of discipline. Students’ nationality will not matter in the study – as long as the student came from a foreign country where English is not regarded as the first language, he or she will be included in the study.
Since the study will imply multiple methods, the data for the research will be collected through two procedures: questionnaires and surveys. First, to gather the necessary quantitative data, the researcher will compose a survey that would include questions regarding their attitudes to language acquisition, extra-curriculum activities targeted at enhancing their English, as well as how their families perceive the importance of learning the second language. Second, qualitative data will be collected through interviews with randomly selected students. The researcher will conduct focus group interviews with students and ask them open-ended questions regarding the effectiveness of the peer tutoring intervention conducted in the classroom, the outlook on future learning, as well as other questions on the topic.
The researcher will conduct an inductive analysis of the collected data from interviews and questionnaires to find the common trends in students’ views on the effectiveness of peer tutoring in the context of English language learning. It is important to answer a question: “Is there a connection between peer tutoring instruction and the improvement of international students’ English language acquisition?” to answer this question, the researcher should determine whether students positively received the peer tutoring intervention and did their academic achievement in English improve (an increase of GPA).
Discussion of Possible Outcomes
As identified by the literature reviews, it is expected that peer tutoring will have a positive effect on academic outcomes; also, it is anticipated that it could also be beneficial for improving students’ behavioral outcomes. Because programs such as peer tutoring can have a positive contribution to both tutors’ and learners’ academic development, there was a need in continuing studying the pedagogical, social, and psychological variables associated with the improvement of teaching and learning within the context of different learning programs (Arco-Tirado et al., 2011, p. 784). Overall, the researcher expects that peer tutoring would benefit the students’ proficiency in English and help develop new language skills.
Arco-Tirado, J., Fernandez-Martin, F., & Fernandez-Balboa, J-M. (2011). The impact of peer-tutoring program on quality standards in higher education. High Education, 62, 773-788.
Bowman-Perrott, L., Davis, H., Vannest, K., Williams, L., Greenwood, C., & Parker, R. (2013). Academic benefits of peer tutoring: A meta-analytic review of single-case research. School Psychology Review, 41(1), 39-55.
Bowman-Perrott, L., deMarin, S., Mahadevan, L., & Etchells, M. (2016). Assessing the academic, social, and language production outcomes of English language learners engaged in peer tutoring: A systematic review. Education and Treatment of Children, 39(3), 359-388.
Comfort, P. (2011). The effect of peer tutoring on academic achievement during practical assessments in applied sports science students. Innovations in Education and Teaching International, 48(2), 207-211.
Ensergueix, P., & Lafont, L. (2011). Impact of trained versus spontaneous reciprocal peer tutoring on adolescent students. Journal of Applied Sports Psychology, 23, 381-397.
Hawkins, R., Musti-Rao, S., Hughes, C., Berry, L., & McGuire, S. (2009). Applying a randomized interdependent group contingency component to classwide peer tutoring for multiplication fact fluency. Journal of Behavioral Education, 18, 300-318.
Klingbeil, D., Moeyaert, M., Archer, C., Chimboza, T., & Zwolski Jr., S. (2017). Research into practice: Efficacy of peer-mediated incremental rehearsal for English language learners. School Psychology Review, 46(1), 122-140.
Kourea, L., Cartledge, G., & Musti-Rao, S. (2007). Improving the reading skills of urban elementary students through total class tutoring. Remedial and Special Education, 28(2), 95-107.
Mackiewicz, S., Wood, C., Cooke, N., & Mazzotti, V. (2010). Effects of peer tutoring with audio prompting on vocabulary acquisition for struggling readers. Remedial and Special Education, 20(10), 1-10.
Neddenriep, C., Skinner, C., Wallace, M., & McCallum, E. (2009). ClassWide Peer Tutoring: Two experiments investigating the generalized relationship between increased oral reading fluency and reading comprehension. Journal of Applied School Psychology, 25(3), 244-269.