Peer Tutoring: What Is It and Is It Right for Your Student?

There is no shortage of options for tutoring. The problem isn’t a lack of resources, but finding the best option for you.

If you’re researching tutoring for your child, you clearly care about their academic performance and want to provide them with opportunities.

Peer tutoring is an awesome option for many students. It is a proven method for learning with tons of research to back up its use in, and out, of the classroom.

It’s a popular, and effective, strategy, but will it work for your student? You might just find the answer in this guide.

If you have ever considered peer-to-peer tutoring or are just looking for more information, keep reading. Here you’ll learn the basics of peer tutoring and how it might be the right option for your student.

What Is Peer Tutoring?

Students helping students is at the core of peer tutoring. Sometimes taking place in the classroom and other times online, peer tutoring offers a unique experience for students.

Peer tutoring is an approach to learning that puts students together to practice or review concepts that have been taught. 

A few common peer tutoring pairings include:

  • An entire class, divided into groups of same or varied ability levels
  • Older students tutoring younger students
  • Classmates at the same ability level taking turns as tutor and tutee
  • Same age students of differing ability levels with one acting as tutor

Peer-to-peer tutoring may be helpful for students of all ages and abilities. Different tools and strategies can be used to get the most out of these valuable sessions.

Students can help each other better understand what is being taught. Review and practice can be less intimidating or frustrating when it is being delivered by someone like you. 

Unlike working with a professional tutor, students are matched with other students to study and advance their knowledge or increase proficiency in a subject.

what is peer tutoring

Same Age Peer Tutoring vs. Cross-Age Peer Tutoring

There are several models for peer tutoring. Students may tutor other students that are about the same age or grade, or they could be tasked with tutoring in a different age group.

  • Same-age peer tutoring is often used in classrooms with students learning the same material. They can be paired up based on ability or compatibility.
  • Cross-age peer tutoring matches older students with younger students, similar to a mentor relationship. Older students meet with younger students to study, work on homework, or just offer additional help with a particular subject.

Different strategies are used for peer tutoring, depending on whether students are working with someone in their class or grade or an older student.

Who Is Peer Tutoring Right For?

Peer tutoring has numerous benefits for both the tutor and the tutee. Students of all ages and levels may find advantages in peer tutoring.

More advanced students often find it beneficial to help their peers who may be struggling. They can reinforce concepts and strengthen their understanding while assisting another student.

Struggling students have reported feeling less overwhelmed and anxious when practicing concepts with other students. It may be less intimidating for students who need additional practice to master classroom material.

If you’re asking yourself, “What are the benefits of peer tutoring?” then chances are you have a student who may see benefits from peer tutoring.

How Effective Is Peer-to-Peer Tutoring?

Peer tutoring is most effective when it is used to consolidate learning instead of introducing new concepts and material. Tutor and tutee work together for mutual success.

Positive reinforcement and helpful peer feedback can increase comprehension and improve learning for all participants.

It’s not just that peer tutoring is effective, but that it is a proven strategy for improving learning outcomes in multiple areas.

According to a study by Arco-Tirado, Fernández-Martín, and Fernández-Balboa published in Higher Education, researchers found this when reviewing the results of peer tutoring:

The results show differences in favor of the treatment group on grade point average, performance rate, success rate, and learning strategies and, also, statistically significant pre-post differences for the tutors on learning strategies and social skills.”


Students ranging from early elementary to graduate school can benefit from peer tutoring. The strategy includes multiple methods and groupings that can be customized to meet the learning environment in which it is taking place.

online peer tutoring

In-Person Peer Tutoring vs. Online Peer Tutoring

Online tutoring has become an important part of education for many.

In-person peer tutoring is often used as part of a larger plan for student learning. If students are partnered in the classroom, it may even take place during class time to practice newly learned skills and concepts.

Online peer tutoring may involve multiple students in a virtual classroom working in collaboration to complete a project or master new concepts.

Both options can be incredibly beneficial for students of all ages. Students in higher education settings have reported higher test scores after partaking in online peer tutoring sessions.

What Are the Benefits of Peer Tutoring? 3 Ways Peer Tutoring Can Help Students

Many parents and students are looking for ways to improve classroom performance and get better grades.

Peer tutoring may offer several benefits, including but not limited to:

  • Enhanced learning thanks to one-on-one attention and individualized plans
  • Motivating students to learn and study in preparation for their tutoring sessions; and
  • Allowing students to improve their communication and social skills.

Students may also find it easier to pay attention and want to participate in learning when working with a peer.

Peer tutoring is not just helpful for the student being tutored; acting as a tutor can also be beneficial.

#1: Enhanced Learning

Learning is not linear. The same teaching methods do not work best for every student. 

This is where peer tutoring can help cement learning and allow students to take learning into their own hands.

Working with a peer tutor allows students to focus on what they need most. In situations where students take turns playing the role of the tutor, it can increase the confidence of struggling learners to know they have the tools to tutor another student and gain valuable practice themselves. 

For the tutor, explaining the concepts for their tutee can reinforce them and increase their own retention

#2: Improved Motivation

Have you ever told your child something and they completely ignored you? What could you possibly know? But then someone the child admires tells them the same thing and

all of a sudden it is the most important information they have ever heard?

Students tend to be more motivated to learn and review when they are working with peers.

Tutees aren’t the only ones who may be more motivated to learn.

Research has shown that students who participate in peer tutoring with younger students or those at a lower academic level report feeling more motivated to be successful in their schoolwork.

#3: Increased Socialization Skills

If your student is tutoring (or being tutored) by a peer, they are probably learning more than just classroom subjects.

Students may benefit from better social-emotional development as a result of peer-to-peer tutoring. As students learn how to communicate with their tutoring partners, they also improve their socialization skills.

peer tutoring

3 Disadvantages of Peer Tutoring

Of course, there is no one perfect way to get tutoring for a student. While peer tutoring can be a great solution for some students, it is certainly not without disadvantages.

Some drawbacks to peer tutoring may include:

  1. Peers may lack the knowledge and professionalism an experienced adult can provide.
  2. Supervision is often needed in peer tutoring situations.
  3. Relationships between students and teachers may not be as strong.

Knowing and understanding the potential downside can help you make the best choice for your student. If you have questions, you can rely on the experts at Emergent Education to give you answers and offer guidance based on their years of experience.

#1: Student Tutors May Lack the Knowledge a Professional, Experienced Tutor Has

When it comes to teaching content, experienced professionals are invaluable. Peer-to-peer tutoring may be great for reviewing and reinforcing, but introducing new material is probably best left to the professionals.

Peer tutors also lack the skills to adapt as quickly and effectively as a professional tutor.

Working with peers can be great; it’s just not always the best solution for every student.

#2: Supervision Is Often Required

Peer tutoring may help teachers improve learning outcomes in the classroom without increasing instruction time — but that doesn’t mean it’s a hands-off strategy.

Not only does peer tutoring usually require some additional lesson planning, but supervision is also necessary for most situations.

Higher grade levels or university students may not need supervision as much as younger students. Younger students may be easily distracted and struggle to stay on task without supervision.

#3: Student-Teacher Relationships May Weaken

Many students, regardless of age, prefer learning in partnership with their peers versus a teacher.

Unfortunately, that preference may become more apparent and affect student-teacher relationships because of peer tutoring.

Not every student will feel disconnected from their teachers, but it does happen and should be monitored if tutoring with peers is a regular part of a student’s learning plan.

Is Your Student in Need of Tutoring Services in Portland, OR? Emergent Education’s Experienced Tutors Help Students Succeed

We know that parents who care about their children’s education aren’t going to trust just anyone to tutor their students.

Parents all over the Portland area have told us that Emergent Education’s tutoring services have helped their children succeed. We can help you find the right strategy to suit your child’s learning needs and your goals for their education.

Peer tutoring can be a good option, but it isn’t right for every student and lacks that professional touch. Our expert tutors bring years of experience to your child’s sessions and have the skills and knowledge to help your child learn.

Call today and let one of our tutors answer your questions. You may just find the tutoring services you’re looking for.

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