What is Peer Tutoring?
The word tutor comes from late Middle English: from Old French tutour or Latin tutor, from tueri ‘to watch, guard’. Ross MacDonald, in his guidebook The Master Tutor, refers to tutoring as “an act which facilitates or provides a structure for another’s learning.” And that a “tutor is a person, who, in a structured and supervised educational context, enters into a peer teaching and learning relationship with one or more others.” (p.6, 2000).
How does Peer Tutoring Differ from Teaching?
Teachers are responsible to present approved content materials in a variety of ways that will engage and be accessible to a large number of learners. They are often working with groups of 24 to 35 to many more students at a time. They may provide instruction face to face or through online learning management systems such as Moodle. Peer Tutors are working with one or, at most a few, students who are trying to learn course content materials more deeply and the tutor will be coaching them in this learning.
Identify Goals and Responsibilities of Peer Tutoring
Tutor goals and their attendant responsibilities are wide ranging. They assist students in delving deeply into their content areas. As a Tutor you will help the tutee by:
- Promoting independence in learning;
- Personalizing Learning;
- Facilitating tutee insights into learning, and learning processes;
- Providing a student perspective on learning and university success;
- Respecting individual differences;
- Following the job description (guidelines).
Adapted from The Master Tutor (2000) six goals of tutoring:
Promoting independence in learning
Independent learning occurs when a learner has “an understanding of their learning; being motivated to take responsibility for their learning; and working with others to structure their learning environment.” (p.2, Meyer, et al, 2008)
All tutoring is aimed at promoting this and in so doing, becoming unnecessary. Tutors work to foster self-improvement through planned independent study by tutees under tutor guidance. This can be accomplished by one-to-one learning, learning in partnership with another learner, or as part of a small group. Possible tutoring methods used include: reading, viewing, charting, questions, case studies, and much more. These all provide the opportunity for the learner to take control of their own learning.
Each tutor is in the position to provide a learning situation that is personalized to the needs of the individual tutee. Tutors, though their understanding of the content materials and their knowledge of the individual can choose strategies that will make it more likely that the learner will grasp the concepts that are being worked with. This facilitates learning in a very personal way.
Facilitating tutee insights into learning, and learning processes
Facilitation is a supporting process that does not do for, but rather, does with the tutee. This allows the tutee to gain the skills and understanding to apply the knowledge to the subject at hand and to transfer that understanding to other applications and situations.
Providing a student perspective on learning and university success
Each tutor has done well in the subject that they tutor. This gives them insights into the materials and what is expected by the course requirements. Yet, you still retain the perspective of being a student and a learner and are much closer to the basic concepts than the course instructor. You also have the credibility of having passed the course recently and knowing what is needed to do so. Finally, you have a good grasp of the pressures that all students face in their day to day life at University and can be empathetic to learners’ circumstances.
Respecting individual differences
Every tutor must understand and respect the differences that exist between and among their tutees. You have a responsibility to treat people fairly and with respect. It can be easier to do when your tutee is progressing well. It is even more important to focus on when a tutee is struggling. Approach each session of tutoring with the intent to give it your best effort and to encourage the tutee as you help them to learn. You will have other resources and places to refer students to when more help is needed.
Following the job description (guidelines)
The job description of the tutor is complex and will be covered in detail after your training. You already know that the basic description is:
The Learning Centre Peer Tutors will assist students enrolled in a variety of KPU courses and programs with their coursework by providing individual learning assistance, one to one tutoring, and student to student feedback. Peer Tutors have successfully completed at least a first level course with a minimum grade of B in the discipline in which they are tutoring or are able to demonstrate appropriate skills in the subject being tutored.
As you complete your Tutor Training, this description will be expanded and filled out more.
Benefits of Tutoring for the Tutor
“To Teach is to Learn” (Japanese proverb)
The Tutor learns even more than the tutee because they are constantly reviewing what they know and explaining it to others. As a Peer Tutor you will also be interacting with other tutors and your content faculty members. This can lead to rich discussions and increased understanding, application, analysis, and evaluation of your study areas.