REVIEW OF LITERATURE (abbreviated)

 

There does not appear to be a consensus among educators on the way students

 

should be taught.  Some researchers and administrators believe that direct instruction or

 

traditional lecture, learning, and regurgitating information is the only approach that

 

should be used... 

 

According to Weissglass (2001), there are many differences of opinion about

 

curriculum which originate from differences about the way students learn, the way

 

society believes students should learn and the purpose of schools in a democracy…

 

Traditionalists believe that the core body of knowledge that all students should

 

learn includes: mathematical and scientific concepts, historical facts and interpretations,

 

and books that are part of our shared American heritage (Resnick, 2001)…Traditional

 

teaching has long been the preferred method of teaching and it has become a habit for

 

some teachers that is hard to break.

 

Progressive instruction is a concept founded by John Dewey in 1896 in the

 

United States.  Progressives, are people who want to change the educational system from

 

traditional to an all inclusive teach every child system… 

 

The battle between the progressives and the traditionalists will continue with

 

neither side giving in, because progressives are against memorization of facts and

 

repetitive learning.  Progressive methods of teaching include: group activities, hands-on,

 

cooperative learning, and peer-tutoring…

 

            Peer Tutoring, also referred to as peer learning – students’ working together to

 

complete academic tasks is - not a new concept… In the 1960s there was a great

 

resurgence of interest in peer tutoring as attention in the United States focused on

 

problems of underachievement in public schools.

 

            Studies report that peer learning promotes greater conceptual and procedural gains

 

for students...    Peer-tutoring programs have positive social and cognitive effects on many

 

of the participants (Coenen, 2002)...     Powell (1997) summarized a significant national

 

study and evaluation of peer tutoring in schools. The researcher found that peer tutoring

 

can positively affect academic achievement. 

 

How does peer tutoring work?  Peer tutoring is the process by which a competent

 

pupil, with minimal training and with a teacher’s guidance, helps one or more students at

 

the same grade level learn a skill or concept (Thomas, 1993).  Peer tutoring can be used

 

as an effective teaching strategy... 

 

Peer tutoring has repeatedly been found to be an effective method of teaching

 

students with disabilities (Burnette, 1999)…

 

Peer tutoring has been found to be effective in helping second language learners

 

keep pace with peers...

 

Are there any examples of tutoring success?    According to Gaustad (1993), one

 

successful program was at Willamette High School in Eugene, Oregon. Another

 

successful program was in San Antonio, Texas where low-achieving Hispanic middle

 

school students were recruited to tutor at-risk Hispanic elementary students.  Another

 

study by Fisher (2001) suggests that peer tutoring was beneficial for the students who did

 

the tutoring... 

 

        What are the costs involved with peer tutoring?  According to Kalkowski (1995),

 

peer tutoring has been shown to be more cost-effective than reducing class size or

 

increasing the length of the school day..

 

            Who are the students who will benefit from peer tutoring?  Olge (1997) found that

 

at-risk and divergent learners benefit from peer tutoring in both the academic and

 

affective realms and at all age/grade levels. 

 

            Who are the divergent learners? Divergent learners have different personality

 

traits that differ from other students and the thinking process is of divergent learners is

 

different.  Divergent learners seek constant reassurance from other people and value close

 

friendships (Johnson & Lane, 2002).

 

The one factor that all divergent learners have in common is a strong dislike for a

 

traditional classroom and traditional teachers.  According to Johnson (2000), divergent

 

learners think, learn, and behave different from other students and therefore have

 

difficulty keeping up with daily assignments.  Unfortunately, students identified as being

 

divergent learners often receive the traditional teaching approach that emphasizes rote

 

memorization and basic academic skills. 

 

            Different learning styles are also being recognized to empower students to learn

 

faster and easier.  Once teachers understand that different learning styles exist, teachers

 

can direct students to take responsibility for learning. 

 

According to Guskey (1996), "most teachers use too few instructional strategies

 

and those that are used conflict with the modality strengths of most youngsters" (p.3).  If

 

anything, peer tutoring raises both teacher and student expectations…Over the past

 

decade, peer tutoring has emerged as the leading new approach to classroom instruction. 

 

            Peer tutoring has also been found to help Learning Disabled students and

 

according to Braxton (1998),  traditionally children diagnosed with ADHD... 

 

            Can new technology provide meaningful learning experiences for diverse learners

 

and students at risk of educational failure?  Cohen (2001) did a study that found that the

 

use of technology affected all aspects of the teaching and learning continuum and

 

demanded new approaches to the curriculum.  Jones (1996), in a study for the

 

Department of Education, found that students using computers to learn need instruction

 

that recognizes students’ unique learning styles. The study also concluded that students

 

learn with and from each other…         

 

Are there any problems with students helping other students as an approach to

 

teaching diverse learners?  According to Kerka (1998), one of the problems with tutors is

 

that tutors sometimes tend to be insensitive to different cultural perspectives. In addition

 

to these problems, Ogle (1997) found that teachers still maintain traditional ways of

 

teaching because at-risk students often challenge teachers in classroom order and

 

management.

 

            Should teachers concentrate more on males than females when researching

 

at-risk learners in a technology curriculum?  Bae, Choy, Sable, and Synder

 

(2000) found that females are just as likely as males to use computers at home and at

 

school, although some of the activities for which computers are used differ.

 

            In summary, research indicates that traditional lecture classes are not addressing

 

the problem. Therefore, educators must assess teaching methods and the manner in which

 

students learn, in order to insure learning experiences that will prepare all students for the

 

varied demands within and outside the educational environment.

 

Peer tutoring has not been researched as much as extended time and cooperative

 

learning and the benefits, although promising, are not conclusive. Peer tutoring generally

 

works well as a teaching strategy because it provides a progressive approach to learning

 

that emphasizes learning together as a social activity.  The old adage, "those who teach

 

learn twice," holds true for peer tutoring and when it is used, learning becomes much

 

more effective because learners are teaching themselves (Whitman, 1988). This approach

 

warrants study across the curriculum, particularly in technology, which is being used in

 

most classrooms today.