|Effective Educational Practices (IAE - IBE - UNESCO, 2000, 24 p.)|
Teaching one student or a small number with the same abilities and instructional needs can be remarkably effective.
Tutoring gears learning to student needs. It has yielded large learning effects in several dozen studies. It yields particularly large effects in mathematics - perhaps because of the subject's well-defined sequence and organization. If students fall behind in a fast-paced mathematics class, they may never catch up unless their particular problems are identified and remedied. This individualized assessment and follow-up process is the virtue of tutoring and other means of adaptive instruction.
In the classroom
Peer tutoring (tutoring of slower or younger students by more advanced students) appears to work nearly as well as teacher tutoring; with sustained student practice it might be equal to teacher tutoring in some cases. Significantly, peer tutoring promotes effective learning in tutors as well as tutees. The need to organize one's thoughts in order to impart them intelligibly to others, the need to become conscious of the value of time, and the need to learn managerial and social skills are probably the main reasons for benefits to the tutor.
Even slower-learning students and those with disabilities can be in the position of teaching to others if they are given the extra time and practice that may be required to master a skill. This can give them a positive experience and increase their feelings of self-esteem. The success of two other practices in this booklet - the teaching of learning strategies and cooperative learning - is attributable to instructional features similar to those of tutoring.
References: Cohen, Kulik & Kulik, 1982; Ehly, 1980; Medway, 1991; Walberg & Haertel, 1997.