Cross-Age Tutoring

An Annotated Bibliography

by Marah Fortson

Learning and Mathematics || Research in Math Education

A classroom contains many learners. These learners have different abilities, different strengths and weaknesses, and are at different levels academically, behaviorally, and socially. The task of the teacher is a challenge, especially when students have trouble understanding and keeping up with the class. There are known advantages to working with a child one-on-one, but this is not always possible for a teacher to do.

Cross-age tutoring seems to provide ways of dealing with such problems. Sometimes called "peer tutoring," cross-age tutoring occurs when a tutor is older than a tutee. Often participants will be "disadvantaged" or "at-risk." Studies to date of cross-age tutoring have found that it is very beneficial to both tutor and tutee. Participants improve in the academic disciplines tutored as well as in self-judgment, behavior, and social interactions. Areas that have been included in cross-age tutoring include reading, spelling, mathematics, drug abuse, and social skills.

A literature review of related materials follows. Areas other than math or computers are included, and several references discuss peer tutoring rather than the more specific cross-age tutoring; however, these are important for gaining a comprehensive understanding of cross-age tutoring. All of the references that have been included can be successfully applied to the study of math and/or computers.



  1. Blackbourn, V. and Blackbourn, J.M. "An Adolescent with Moderate Mental Disabilities Tutors a 1st-Grade, Nondisabled Child."
    This article discusses hot topics for x-age tutoring, teacher attitudes, and special education. When an adolescent with mental disabilities tutored a first grader in arithmetic the mathematics performance of both participants improved. In addition, the adolescent was integrated into a more typical classroom and teacher attitude towards students with disabilities changed.
    In Teaching Exceptional Children , Vol.25, No.4, pp.56-61. Summer 1993.

  2. Beirne-Smith, M. "Peer Tutoring in Arithmetic for Children with Learning Disabilities."
    This article presents a possible teaching strategy for learning-disabled children. Twenty primary-aged students with learning disabilities were tutored by cross-age tutors on the acquisition of single-digit addition facts. Results strongly support the use of cross-age tutoring.
    In Exceptional Children , Vol.57, No.4, pp.330-337. February 1991.

  3. Berliner, D.; Cassonova, U. "Peer Tutoring: A New Look at a Popular Practice."
    Compares cross-age tutoring with other tutoring forms by analyzing several variables affecting student learning. Conclusion: cross-age tutoring has the greatest effect on student learning and is the most cost effective.
    IIn Instructor , Vol.97, No.5, pp.14-15. January 1988.

  4. Bouchard, L. "Mixed Age Grouping for Gifted Students."
    Practical issues of cross-age tutoring such as cooperation vs. competition, the optimum age-spread for cross-age tutoring, curriculum, parent and teacher reactions, and difficulties are discussed. The program studied was at a private school for gifted students.
    In Gifted Child Today , Vol.14, No.5, pp.30-35. September-October 1991.

  5. Fasko, D.; Flint, W. "Enhancing Self-Esteem of At-Risk High School Students."
    Cross-age tutoring meets social and emotional needs: results from cross-age tutoring by undergraduate students of "at-risk" ninth-graders show that the program enhanced the social and emotional feelings of the tutees (especially self-concept).
    (1990) (UPO Box 975 Morehead State University, Morehead, KY 40351)

  6. Fresko, B.; Chen, M. "Ethnic Similarity, Tutor Experience, and Tutor Satisfaction in Cross-Age Tutoring."
    Examines the effects of tutor-tutee ethnic similarity, tutor experience, and perceived goal attainment on the satisfaction of the tutors. The tutors were college students and they tutored disadvantaged elementary school students.
    In American Educational Research Journal , Vol.26, No.1, pp.122-140. Spring 1989.

  7. Gartner, A.; Reissman, F. "Peer Tutoring: Toward a New Model."
    Suggests a way to remove the negativity associated with receiving help: all tutors have the experience of being tutees as part of an apprenticeship for becoming tutors.
    (ERIC Clearinghouse on Teaching, Teacher Education. Washington, D.C.)

  8. Gaustad, J. "Peer and Cross-Age Tutoring."
    This article clearly explains cross-age tutoring and its benefits, reasons, and purpose. It shows how peers can relate better to their tutees, how one-on-one interaction benefits both parties, and how the psychological needs of both parties can be met, and also cites problems encountered. Key terms are defined and examples of working tutoring programs are given. The article discusses how to implement a tutoring program and what makes it successful (parent, community education etc.).
    In ERIC Digest , No. 79. 1993. (ERIC Clearinghouse on Educational Management, Eugene, OR.)

  9. Gaustad, J. "Tutoring for At-Risk Students."
    Tutoring is discussed as a way to augment traditional instruction and help students with special needs. The sixth chapter discusses three peer and cross-age tutoring programs. Also discussed: effectiveness, costs and benefits to tutor and tutee, and objectives, resources, and implementation details.
    In OSSC Bulletin , Vol.36, No.3. November 1992.

  10. Keane, K. "Using Peer Assisted Learning (PAL) to Reduce the Number of After-School Detentions and Increase Self-Esteem Among Fourth Through Sixth Grade Tutors Who are Considered to be Discipline Problems."
    A possible remedy for discipline problems: PAL used peer tutoring to decrease the number of detentions received by "discipline problem" students and increase their self-esteem. Those who designed this program feel it accomplished its goal.
    (August 1992, Accession #ED349531) (ERIC Document Reproduction Service, 7420 Fullerton Rd. Suite 110, Springfield, VA 22153-2852.)

  11. Martino, L. "When Students Help Students."
    Implentation of tutoring program is discussed and advice provided. This program gives students a credit for tutoring and being tutored. Pairs meet daily and work on a wide range of academics andin addition, time-management and study skills.
    In Executive Educator , Vol.15, No.1, pp.31-32. January 1993.

  12. Miller, A., et al. "START Tutoring: Designing, Training, Implementing, Adapting, and Evaluating Tutoring Programs for School and Home Settings."
    Help for teachers and parents: peers can successfully effect changes in academic and social skills. This article also states five steps involved in setting up the student-tutoring process.
    In Behavior Analysis in Education: Focus on Measurably Superior Instruction . Ralph Gardner et al (Eds.). Pacific Grove, California: Brooks/Cole Publishing Company. pp. 265-282. 1994.

  13. Miller, L., et al. "Winning With Peer Tutoring: A Teacher's Guide."
    This guide is organized in four components: planning, training, monitoring/evaluation, and problem-solving. It also discusses academic and social benefits of tutoring.
    In Preventing School Failure , Vol.37, No.3, pp.14-18. Spring 1993.

  14. Mitchell, S. "Portland Peers Project 1989-91 Final Evaluation Report."
    This cross-age program is designed to reduce substance abuse among middle schoolers. It demonstrates the usefulness of tutors as role models and as understanding peers.
    (1991) (ERIC Document Reproduction Service, 7420 Fluuerton Rd. Suite 110, Springfield, VA 22153-2852.)

  15. Montague, P. "Peer Tutoring in Special Education: Effects on the Academic Achievement of Secondary Students with Mild Handicaps."
    Benefits of tutoring include increased opportunity for student response, low "teacher-pupil" ratio, individualized instruction, improved social skills, and increased academic acheivement. this article discusses these things specifically in the context of special education. In this setting, tutoring also aids to integrate disabled students into the classroom.
    In B.C. Journal of Special Education , Vol.15, No.1, pp. 47-63. 1991.

  16. Peyton, J. "Cross-Age Tutoring on a Local Area Computer Network: Moving from Informal Interaction to Formal Academic Writing."
    An unusual example of cross-age tutoring proves that it can occur in many circumstances and with different resources. Here, basic writers from the pre-college level tutored deaf elementary school students. Discussions of writing on the computer network were encouraged.
    In Writing Instructor , Vol.8, No.2, pp.57-67. Winter 1989.

  17. Sassi, A. "The Synergy of Cross-Age Tutoring: A Catalyst for Computer Use."
    This article suggests an interesting way to teach kids to use computers. The cross-age tutoring program discussed also provides a way to strengthen computer and social skills in older kids. Cross-age tutoring was used to introduce computers to kindergarteners. Sixth-grade tutors worked with them using various software programs (described in the article). Benefits to tutor and tutee are discussed.
    In Computing Teacher , Vol.17, No.5, pp. 9-11. February 1990.

  18. Spiegel, L.; Richardson, M. "Collaborative Strategies That Integrate the Language Arts for Cross-Age Learning."
    An important, practical discussion for teachers: the grading of cross-age learning projects according to participation and quality of produced work.
    (1993, Accession #ED359531) (ERIC Document Reproduction Service, 7420 Fullerton Rd. Suite 110, Springfield, VA 22153-2852.)

  19. Thomas, R. "Cross-Age and Peer Tutoring."
    This practical article answers questions, provides information on how to start and organize programs, and discusses what the critical components are and why cross-age tutoring is effective. It also offers two program examples.
    In ERIC Digest . ERIC Clearinghouse. Washington, D.C.

  20. Topping, K. and Whiteley, M. "Sex Differences in the Effectiveness of Peer Tutoring."
    Something to keep in mind when setting up cross-age tutoring: this study showed that male-male combinations best served those involved. Overall, all participants benefitted, the tutors somewhat more.
    In School Psychology International , Vol.14, No.1, pp. 57-67. February 1993.

  21. Trapani, C. and Gettinger, M. "Effect of Social Skills Training and Cross-Age Tutoring on Academic and Social Behaviors of Boys with Learning Disabilities."
    Cross-age tutoring is useful in integrating academic and social skills. This article examines the effectiveness of pairing social skills training with cross-age tutoring. 20 boys with learning disabilities were watched for social communication improvement as a result.
    In Journal of Research and Development in Education , Vol.23, No.1, pp. 1-9. Fall 1989.

  22. Vacc, N. and Cannon, S. "Cross-Age Tutoring in Mathematics: Sixth Graders Helping Students Who Are Moderately Handicapped."
    Increases in academic and social achievement were attributed to cross-age tutoring after only six weeks. Sixth-graders tutored moderately mentally handicapped elementary school students in mathematics. The tutees' math abilities improved and teachers rated the program as a favorable learning activity.
    In Education and Training in Mental Retardation , Vol. 26, No.1, pp. 89-97. March 1991.

  23. Warger, C. "Peer Tutoring: When Working Together is Better Than Working Alone."
    Strategies to make tutoring work such as providing feedback, supervision, tutor training, and regularity are discussed. Also discussed are implementation problems and results of tutoring: increased student test scores and rare failures.
    In Research and Resources on Special Education , No.30. (Council of Exceptional Children, Publication Sales, 1920 Association Drive, Reston, VA 22091.)

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