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Peer Learning S pecialist Schools Trust National Conference. Peter Tymms Durham University. Outline. Why? Evidence for peer learning Potential benefits Forms of peer learning Services versus Learning by Tutoring Some examples Practical Advice Fife Peer Learning Project. Question.

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Presentation Transcript
  • Why?
    • Evidence for peer learning
    • Potential benefits
  • Forms of peer learning
    • Services versus Learning by Tutoring
  • Some examples
  • Practical Advice
  • Fife Peer Learning Project

Is it best for teachers to teacher or for them to get the pupils to teach?

an example
An Example
  • Teaching mechanisms on organic chemistry to 17 year olds.
  • I taught half the class
  • The other half taught 16 year olds
focus on the question
Focus on the question ….

But which to teacher and which to enlist as teachers?

Allocateat random

more specifically
More specifically
  • Rank order by ability
  • Toss for first and second
  • Toss for third and fourth
  • Etc
  • The same for the tutees
  • Match tutor to tutee by ability
  • Tutors learnt better by teaching
  • Tutees learnt equally well
by how much effect sizes
By how much: Effect Sizes

Normal curve and ES2.xls

results of meta analysis
Results of Meta-Analysis

Tutors Tutees

  • Cross-age 0.4 0.5
  • Same age 0.3 0.3
  • Maths 0.6 0.6
  • Reading 0.2 0.3
  • < A month 0.6 1.0
  • > A term 0.1 0.2
  • There is solid evidence especially in favour of cross-age peer tutoring.
  • Attitudes/self-esteem evidence is not so clear but individual stories are heartening.

Tutorial Services Projects

Learning by Tutoring

Peer Tutoring



  • PhD students at MIT
  • Engineering undergraduates in schools
  • A level Chemistry students
  • Primary children teaching fractions
  • Five year olds writing for 4 year olds
  • Special needs children teaching others
practical advice
Practical Advice
  • Identify tutors and tasks
  • Find tutees
  • Locate a venue
  • Pre-test and pair up
  • Provide a small amount of pre-training
  • Prepare materials
  • Run sessions – light touch but watchful
  • Test tutees and share with tutors
  • End and plan next project
  • Write up
fife peer learning project research design

Fife Peer Learning ProjectResearch Design

we know that
We know that ..

Peer Learning is effective


  • Can a whole Authority change together?
  • Which is best
    • Cross-age or Same-age?
    • Mix or separate subjects?
    • Intensive or light?
the international issue
The International Issue
  • Governments do not know how to improve education
  • The USA have spent billions of dollars on reading to no effect.
  • England spent £500 million on the national literacy strategy to no effect
  • Etc etc etc
  • This project aims to find a new way forward.
cross age versus same age
Cross-age versus Same-age
  • Research suggests Cross-age works best


  • It is hard to sustain and organise
mixing versus separation
Mixing versus Separation
  • Learning skills in one context may help in another


  • Research suggests that transfer is problematic
intensive or light
Intensive or Light
  • Harder more intensive work might get better results


  • Intense work can confuse and be onerous
what data will we collect
What data will we collect?
  • What Heads and Teachers say
  • What schools have done
  • Pupils’
    • Progress
    • Attitudes
    • Home background, sex, age etc
    • Behaviour
  • From Fife primary schools and many others in Scotland
so for this project
So for this project

All schools have been randomly assigned.

Everyone works for two years

We then get together and learn how much difference we have made and which approaches work best

And we tell others.

  • Cohen, P. A., J. A. Kulik and C. C. Kulik (1982). "Educational Outcomes of Tutoring: a meta-analysis of findings." American Educational Research Journal19(2): 237-248
  • Falchikov, N. (2001). Learning together: Peer tutoring in Higher Education. London, RoutledgeFalmer.
  • Fife Peer Learning Project
  • Fitz-Gibbon, C. T. (1983). "Peer Tutoring: a possible method for multi-ethnic education." New Community11: 160-166
  • Fitz-Gibbon, C. T. (1988). "Peer Tutoring as a Teaching Strategy." Educational Management and Administration16: 217-229.
  • Fitz-Gibbon, C. T. (1992). Peer and Cross-Age Tutoring. Encyclopedia of Educational Research. M. C. Alkin. New York, Macmillan Publishing Company: 980-984.
  • Fitz-Gibbon, C. T. (2000). Cross-age tutoring: should it be required in order to reduce social exclusion? Combating Social Exclusion Through Education: Laissez-faire, Authoritarianism or Third Way? G. Walraven, C. Parsons, D. van Veen and C. Day. Leuven, Garant: 307-315 (includes practical advice)
  • Goodlad, S. and B. E. Hirst (1990). " Explorations in Peer Tutoring. Oxford:Basil Blackwell.“
  • Osguthorpe, R. T. and others. (1985). "Increasing Social Acceptance: Mentally Retarded Students Tutoring Regular Class Peers." Education and Training of the Mentally Retarded.20(4): 235-40
  • Topping, K. J. (1998). The paired science handbook: Parental involvement and peer tutoring in science. London and Bristol PA, Fulton and Taylor & Francis.
  • Topping, K. J. and S. Ehly, Eds. (1998). Peer-assisted learning. Mahwah, NJ, Lawrence Erlbaum
  • Tymms, P. B. (1989). "Peer Tutoring with 'A' level Chemistry Students." Paired Learning
  • Tymms, P. B. and C. T. Fitz-Gibbon (1995). "Students at the Front: Using Performance Indicators for Professional Development." Educational Research37(2): 107-122