Peer tutoring – a win/win/win

Peer Tutoring at UFA

Much has been made of the value of peer tutoring in accelerating academic progress. The EEF/Sutton Toolkit outlines that peer tutoring offers high impact at low cost and is expected to achieve six months of accelerated progress with each student.

However, an area that is less well researched is the impact of peer tutoring on the tutor. The toolkit makes some reference to tutor gains but although there is some research showing the impact of peer tutoring on the tutor (see this meta-analysis published in the 1980s) there is much less research in recent years on the academic and wider benefits for those volunteering for this role.

This is an area of particular interest to UFA as one of the lead proponents of peer tutoring in the UK. These Learning Essentials underpin all UFA work. One of these 10 Essentials is that ‘Each one should teach one’. UFA believes that leadership and learning are integral to each other and that authentic leadership opportunities provide a context within which young people can reflect, grow, change and build ‘character’.

Leadership begins with showing responsibility for oneself and our leadership programmes encourage self-reflection, creativity, innovation and enterprise. Crucially, we believe all young people can develop these skills and attributes.

Peer Tutoring at UFA

Through these leadership experiences we believe young people are better prepared for learning, for work and for life. Peer tutoring provides the opportunity for one such real-life leadership experience – the chance to take action to help lead and support another’s learning.

Anecdotal evidence and pre/post-evaluations suggest that the benefits of peer tutoring to the tutor include:

• Improved communication skills – “I had to really think how I was explaining things and to really listen to their answers”.

• Better understanding and manipulation of the subject content that they are teaching – (something we know impacts on attainment).

• Increased value placed on collaborative learning and learning with others.

• Being generous with time and recognising the importance of acting responsibly.

Students and teachers working with UFA

We also know that on average at least 75% of young people who have taken part in UFA Peer Tutor training score highly on Guy Claxton’s 4 Rs (resilience, resourcefulness, reflectiveness and reciprocity).

This evidence is valuable and the impact on individuals is marked. Still, further research is needed and at UFA we are committed to developing the evidence base, both for our work and for the wider system.

Over the coming year, we will be looking to:

• Further add to the evidence based of how peer tutoring impacts on progress and attainment for learners.

• Develop approaches to testing the impact of peer tutoring on academic attainment of tutors.

• Consider how we evaluate the impact of peer tutoring on those wider skills and attributes, some might call them ‘character’, that are so important for wider success in life e.g. curiosity, confidence, empathy and integrity.

For more information on peer tutoring, visit the blog from UFA’s Director of Learning, Sarah Burgess.

If this is something that you are interested in working with us on – or if you have evidence to share with us – please contact Sarah on Twitter @ufasarah, email: sburgess@ufa.org.uk or contact the UFA office: admin@ufa.org.uk or 0121 7668077.

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