As regular readers know, I’m a big fan of peer tutors (see THE BEST RESOURCES ON PEER TUTORS), and use ten or more in each period of my ELL Newcomers class.

A new study that is not behind a paywall (thanks, Peps McCrea for sharing it on Twitter) has come out with a conclusion that anyone who has ever used peer tutors already knows – tutors are more likely to help the most eager and skilled students who they are tutoring with hints and strategies, and are more likely to “help” the least proficient students by just giving them the answers.

It makes sense, because helping students in the latter group is harder.

I think it’s a safe bet that most of us teachers would prefer to teacher the former group, too, because it’s easier.

The student is just more reinforcement that we can’t just throw peer tutors into the “job” without prep and training, which is hard to do in the context of teaching an entire class.

However, I’ve found that it is possible to do “on-the-job” training just by having all the peer tutors that I have in my class.   I’m able to spend a few minutes with a peer tutor modeling what to do, while a the same time the other peer tutors are working with everyone else.  It’s not the most efficient way to provide that kind of support but, given the structure of a K-12 school, it works.