What evidence-based mathematics instructional strategies can teachers employ?
Page 7: Peer Tutoring
In peer tutoring, two students work together on an instructional activity (e.g., learning multiplication tables, practicing two-digit addition with carrying). The pairs of students can be of the same or different ability levels. Two peer-tutoring approaches (i.e., Peer Assisted Learning Strategies [PALS] Math, ClassWide Peer Tutoring for mathematics) have been shown through research to be highly effective for teaching mathematics. These strategies have several features in common:
- Reciprocal peer tutoring (i.e., during the session, each student in the pair serves as a coach and as a tutee).
Note: The method below can be used with first through twelfth graders to create mixed-ability pairs.
Step 1: Rank the students
Ranks students based on their mathematics skills. In the example below, the teacher administered a quick mathematics assessment with a maximum score of 50.
Name Mathematics score Micah 48 Emma 46 Chase 42 Katie 39 Zach 37 Avery 37 Carlos 35 Damarcus 34 Diondre 33 Madalyn 33 Ethan 32 Zoe 30 Kana 30 Noah 29 Shante 28 Aliya 27 Alexis 27 Antoine 23 Hannah 20 Garrison 12 Sherise 8 Grant 6
Step 2: Divide list
Divide the list of students in half.
Step 3: Move the halves next to each other
Arrange the halves side-by-side and pair the higher-performing student in the first list to the corresponding lower-performing student in the second. Continue this process until all of the students have been paired.
Micah 48 Emma 46 Chase 42 Katie 39 Zach 37 Avery 37 Carlos 35 Damarcus 34 Diondre 33 Madalyn 33 Ethan 31 LOWER
Zoe 30 Kana 30 Noah 29 Shante 28 Aliya 27 Alexis 27 Antoine 23 Hannah 20 Garrison 12 Sherise 8 Grant 6Pair 1
- Frequent verbal interaction and feedback between the coach and tutee
- Use of positive reinforcement
- A competitive game format
- Teacher monitoring and feedback
The video below depicts two students engaged in one mathematics PALS activity. Notice that the students switch roles, engage in frequent verbal prompts, provide each other with feedback, and use positive reinforcement. In addition, the teacher monitors the students, provides feedback, and (upon leaving) awards the students points (time: 2:29).
Peer tutoring was not designed as a method of teaching new skills. Rather, it provides students opportunities to practice a newly learned skill or to review mathematics skills while receiving feedback.