Kernel Factsheet — Relational Kernel

Peer-to-Peer Tutoring


  • Education
  • Community

Developmental Phases

  • Childhood
  • Early Adolescence
  • Adolescence
  • Emerging Adulthood


Moderately low, but requires preparation

How To Do It

Peer-to-peer tutoring—also called reciprocal peer tutoring or class-wide peer tutoring—is among the most powerful teaching and learning strategy in all of educational science. Class-wide peer tutoring (CWPT) involves the entire class in tutoring each other using a game format. It uses existing curriculum materials and can be adapted across different grade levels and content areas.

How It Works

The class breaks up into two or more competing teams and students pair up within each team. To begin, each pair (dyad) decides who will be the “tutor” and who will be the “tutee.” The tutor presents the content (e.g., a word to spell, a math problem) to the tutee. The tutee responds both orally and in writing. The tutor evaluates the tutee's performance, provides corrective feedback, and awards points for the performance. Tutor and tutee exchange roles within each session. Points for each student are publicly posted and added to determine the winning team of the day. The procedure requires 30 minutes per session; each student in the pair receives 10 minutes of tutoring, and 5 to 10 minutes are used to add and post individual points. Content to learn, teams, and tutoring pairs will normally change weekly. Teachers organize the academic content to be tutored into daily and weekly units and prepare materials to use within the Class-Wide Peer Tutoring format. Teachers (or others) develop tests, and teachers administer a pretest-posttest on the same day. The results serve as feedback for the student and for monitoring learning.

Using Class-Wide Peer Tutoring to Get Things Going in Community Settings

An individual teacher can prepare the materials, which can take a bit of time. It is more efficient and powerful for the community to organize class-wide peer tutoring group similar to a quilting bee, in which a group of teachers, retired teachers, and community volunteers develop all the materials for each grade in a district or area.

Measuring Change

There are multiple ways of measuring change: a) increased engagement—typically about 90% plus of students and minutes sampled, b) improved weekly quizzes, and c) improved standardized achievement test scores that can range in effect sizes from +.5 to as high as +2.00.

Extended Recipe

Here are the basic steps for this evidence-based kernel: 1. Peer in the same room or class are assigned to teach each other, taking turns. Typically, the pairs are on teams. One child is a “mover” who gets supplies, while the other child is a “stayer.”

  1. Children take turns being teacher and learner, which can be determined in multiple ways to suit the subject or needs of the situation. The first peer tutor starts rapidly asking pre-determined questions of the tutee. If the tutee gets the answer correct, maximum points are awarded with a brief positive feedback statement like “right, accurate, or correct.”

  2. If the tutee starts to make an error, the tutor cuts off the answer right away with quick feedback of “stop” and proceeds to give the correct answer while re-asking the question. If the new answer is correct, then half or so points are awarded. If wrong, the points are zero, and the next question is asked.

  3. The tutor rapidly asks questions, keeps up the pace, and gives good positive feedback and praise.

  4. The tutor REPEATS from the top of the questions until signaled to stop.

  5. The pair reverses roles, with the second student becoming the tutor.

  6. When the time is up, points get totaled first for each “player” and then each pair, and finally added to the total for the team. The highest number of points determines the “winning” team.

  7. On Fridays, all students typically take a pre-test on NEXT weeks material and a POST-TEST on the past week’s material.

Performance and Impact

Teachers or schools can use standardized test scores, special services, or other important academic indicators. Improves behavior, increases standardized achievement, and reduces ADHD/conduct problems and special-education placement. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9



  1. Allsopp, D.H. (1997). Using classwide peer tutoring to teach beginning algebra problem-solving skills in heterogeneous classrooms.. Remedial and Special Education, 18(6), 367–379.  

  2. Delquadri, J.C., Greenwood, C.R., Hall, R.V. & Stretton, K. (1983). The peer tutoring spelling game: A classroom procedure for increasing opportunity to respond and spelling performance.. Education and Treatment of Children, 6(3), 225–239.  

  3. DuPaul, G.J., Ervin, R.A., Hook, C.L. & McGoey, K.E. (1998). Peer tutoring for children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder: Effects on classroom behavior and academic performance.. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 31(4), 579–592.  

  4. Fantuzzo, J. & Ginsburg-Block, M. (1998). Reciprocal peer tutoring: Developing and testing effective peer collaborations for elementary school students.. Peer-assisted learning, pp. 121–144  

  5. Greenwood, C.R. (1991). Classwide peer tutoring: longitudinal effects on the reading, language, and mathematics achievement of at-risk students.. Journal of Reading, Writing, and Learning Disabilities International, 7(2), 105–123.  

  6. Greenwood, C.R. (1991). Longitudinal analysis of time, engagement, and achievement in at-risk versus non-risk students.. Exceptional Children, 57(6), 521–535.  

  7. Maheady, L., Harper, G.F., & Sacca, K. (1988). A classwide peer tutoring system in a secondary, resource room program for the mildly handicapped.. Journal of Research and Development in Education, 21(3), 76–83.  

  8. Maheady, L., Harper, G.F., & Sacca, K. (1998). Classwide peer tutoring with mildly handicapped high school students.. Exceptional Children, 55(1), 52–59.  

  9. Sideridis, G.D., Utley, C., Greenwood, C.R., Delquadri, J., Dawson, H., Palmer, P., et al. (1997). Classwide peer tutoring: Effects on the spelling performance and social interactions of students with mild disabilities and their typical peers in an integrated instructional setting.. Journal of Behavioral Education, 7, 435– 462.