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




            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.