WMU could establish and promote a peer tutor network where freshmen and sophomores could connect with upper class men and seek assistance with academic work.
What are the advantages of this idea?
Students who have been on campus for several years and advanced through their academic programs can be a huge help to under class men by providing relevant concrete examples that will assist in the adoption of new concepts and materials, share effective study skills, bridge relationships between faculty mentors and new students, as well as providing the social support that could make the difference in a student completing their degree. The upper class men gain new relationships and insights about learning and instruction methods while adding strong examples of leadership and collaboration to their personal resume.
What are the values of peer tutoring as indicated by established research?
The benefits of peer-tutoring include improvements in learning (e.g. critical thinking, meta cognitive skills, reflection on experiences, aid learning, empower students/increase autonomy), skills development (e.g. communications skills, literature reviewing ability, composition improvement), academic achievement, and improved social outcomes (Falchikov & Blythman, 2001).
In a review of the literature, Topping found that a significant amount of research had been conducted into the effectiveness and value of peer learning/tutoring. While establishing a peer tutoring network and providing sufficient training would consume significant time and resources, and some might consider the quality of peer-instruction to be inferior when compared to that of an experienced instructor or faculty member, studies of the effectiveness of peer tutoring in schools indicated “substantial cognitive gains for both tutees and tutors (Topping, 1996). In terms of cost effectiveness, when compared to other models, peer tutoring was found to be four times as cost-effective (Topping, 1996). A model of peer tutoring titled “The Personalized System of Instruction” (PSI) presents an effective method for applying a large scale support/scaffolding structure across a curriculum. Application of the model has been found to yield “higher class marks … and higher final examination performance” (Topping, 1996). Most importantly is the positive impact the PSI has on graduation rates while decreasing overall dropout rates (Topping, 1996).
Establishing, marketing, and promoting a large scale peer tutoring network is a logical next step for our institution in conjunction with our efforts to increase student success. The research indicates that peer tutoring is a proven and effective method for enhancing skill sets and knowledge building while having a positive impact on retention and matriculation.
Falchikov, N., & Blythman, M. (2001). Learning Together Peer Tutoring in Higher Education. RoutledgeFalmer. Retrieved September 28, 2007, from http://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr;=&id;=Qw-x4s6uP3kC
Topping, K. (1996). The effectiveness of peer tutoring in further and higher education: A typology and review of the literature. Higher Education, 32(3), 321-345. Retrieved September 28, 2007, from http://www.jstor.org/view/00181560/sp060158/