Using Peer Tutors to
Improve College Students’
Academic Success
Johanna Dvorak, PhD
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Innovative Educators Webinar
 This
webinar will assist tutoring
coordinators and professionals in
improving their programs and
practice of tutoring at the postsecondary level.
 As many programs face shrinking
budgets, we can maximize services
and reduce costs by using student/
peer tutors.
 This
webinar will discuss three
aspects of organizing a peer tutoring
program to improve student learning
and retention.
 I. Organizing peer tutoring services
 II. Staffing and evaluating peer
 III. Conducting tutor training
What will participants learn?
Participants will be able to improve
tutoring program practices in the following
 I. Choosing the most effective peer
tutoring program service components for
your campus.
 II. Interviewing and evaluation guidelines
to improve the quality of peer tutor
 III. Learn various models of tutor training
and modes of delivery.
Post-secondary Tutoring Program or
Learning Center Managers: Colleges and
Universities, Community Colleges, and
Technical Colleges
 Post-secondary Learning Center
Professionals with an interest in online
 New professionals in the field of college
learning assistance who aspire to become
program managers
Speaker: Johanna Dvorak
Director of Educational
Support Services at
University of
Tutoring Management
Experience: 25+ years
Leadership roles in
Frequent presenter
Qualitative Researcher
Organizing Peer Educator Services
What types of peer educator services can
you choose?
 Peer Tutoring Program
 Online Tutoring Services
 Supplemental Instruction
 Structured Learning Assistance
 Peer-led Study Groups
 Mentoring
 Academic Counseling
What tutoring services will you offer?
 Types
of Tutoring
 Individual
 Group
 Online Tutoring
 Walk in
 Scheduled weekly
 By appointment
 In Class
Steps to Organizing a
Tutoring Center
 Where
and when to provide tutoring
 Selecting courses to be tutored
 Selecting tutors
 Promoting the program
 Monitor the progress of the program
 Evaluating the service
Resources for Managing a
Tutoring Program
Bingham, R., Daniels, J. (1998).
Developing student support groups: A
tutor’s guide Brookfield, VT: Gower.
 Dvorak, J. “Managing tutoring aspects of
the learning assistance Center,” Research
for Education Reform, (9) 4, December
2004, pp. 39-51.
 Dvorak, J. “The college tutoring
experience,” The Learning Assistance
Review, (6)2, Fall 2001, pp. 33-46.
 Falchikov, N. (2001). Learning together:
Peer tutoring in higher education. New
York, NY: Routledge
More Resources for Peer Educators
Gottesman, B. L. (2009). Peer coaching in
higher education. Lanham, MD: Rowman
& Littlefield.
 Newton, F. B. (2000). Students helping
students: A guide for peer educators on
college campuses. San Francisco, CA:
 Wisker, G., Exley, K., Antoniou, M., &
Ridley, P. (2007). Working one-to-one with
students: Supervising, coaching,
mentoring, and personal tutoring. New
York, NY: Routledge.
 Planning
your peer tutoring services
 List all the services in your center
 What works well?
 What is most attended?
 What changes are you seeing?
 What services would you like to
add or develop?
II. Staffing & Evaluating
Peer Tutors
Management Functions:
 Recruiting
 Hiring
 Orientation
 Training
 Evaluating
Activity: Should you use peer tutors?
Discuss and post on one of these:
I. What are the advantages and
disadvantages of using peer tutors in a
college setting?
 II. Problem: Brainstorm how community
college programs can use peer tutors
effectively when many students leave
after two years.
Can you use peer educators?
Pros: budget savings, students are in
class and know exact content, work
study students, technology expertise,
developing leaders
Cons: continuity and expertise of staff,
turnover of students which increases the
need for training & supervisory staff
Selecting Peer Tutors
What functions will they perform?
 Do you need content experts?
 Undergraduates or graduate students?
 Tutoring function examples:
Supplemental Instruction leader
Academic Coach
Program assistant to help other tutors
Supplemental Instruction Leaders:
 SI
leaders are model students who have
usually taken the class
 Some are graduate students
 May be referred by professor or have been
excellent tutors
 SI leaders attend course lectures & hold 34 review sessions per week
 SI leaders integrate course content with
learning/study strategies
SI Leaders vs. Tutors
 SI
 Tutor
 Role
 Role
 SI
 Tutor
 SI
 Tutor
leader meets
w/ faculty often
by program
leader earns
about $10 per hr.
 Costs
for SI staff
meets faculty
determined by
tutor coordinator
training: 10
hours per semester
earns $9 per
Cost for tutor
The Interview Process
 Interviewing
guidelines to improve
the of selection peer tutors:
 Determining qualifications
 Posting the opening
 Screening applicants
 Broadening the applicant pool
 The interview
 Checking references
 Who make the best tutors?
III. Why Tutor Training?
Research Shows Better Retention:
Tutor Training= higher student retention
Tutor Certification Guidelines
Clark-Thayer, S. & Putnam Cole, L (2ndEd).
(2009). NADE self-evaluation guides: Best
practices in academic support programs.
Clearwater, FLA: H&H Publishing.
Self- Assessment Guides: Learning Assistance
(2007). Washington, DC: Council for the
Advancement of Standards in Higher Education.
Tutoring Certification Guidelines
Tutor Program Certification CRLA
 Individual Tutor Certification ATP
 Learning Center Management Certification
 Program Certification NADE
 Developmental Education Courses
 Tutoring
 Course-Based Learning Assistance
Training Tutors
Training Formats
 Hold training prior to the semester
 Pay student workers to attend meetings
throughout the semester
 Tutor Training Course
 Example: The Master Tutor
 Use a Course Management System
 Online Tutor Training
 Peer Educator Conference
Cost Efficient Training
Follow CRLA standards for tutor training:
- 10 hours of tutoring per semester
 What type of training format costs less?
 Analyze what type of training would be
most efficient:
 Example: Offering a tutor training
course where tutors pay for credits for
training rather than us paying them to
get trained
Activity: Tutor Training
Tutor Training
 What formats for tutor training do you
 Which models of tutor training are or
would be most effective for you?
 What would you like to improve or try?
Develop an plan for peer tutor training for
your campus.
IV. Tutor Evaluation
Evaluate your tutors
 Students evaluate tutors
 Staff visits tutors’ sessions
 Staff evaluates tutors’ overall
 Program is evaluated by
 Tutors
 Students
Use Research to
Evaluate Tutoring Practice
Research I conducted showed that the best tutors
displayed the following characteristics:
 Caring about students
 Showing sensitivity
 Building rapport
 Demonstrating flexibility
 Serving as role models
Dvorak, J. “The college tutoring experience,” The
Learning Assistance Review, (6)2, Fall 2001, pp.
Best Tutoring Practices
 Motivated
 Set expectations
 Built self-confidence
 Developed rapport
 Made a connection to campus
 Provided mentoring
(Dvorak, 2001)
Top Tutoring Techniques
Explained college study strategies
 Aided in reading college textbooks
 Encouraged active learning
 Used excellent communication skills
 Used visual aids and examples
 Adapted tutoring techniques
 Incorporated teaching and coaching styles
(Dvorak, 2001)
Benefits to Tutors
Empathized with struggling students
 Gained the satisfaction of helping other
students succeed
 Solidified their own knowledge
 Developed leadership skills
 Improved communication skills
 Increased multicultural awareness
 Became more prepared for future careers
(Dvorak, 2001)
Activity: Choose one
IV. How would you evaluate your tutors?
 What peer opportunities are on your
campus for student leadership? How could
your program collaborate to provide cross
training for peer leaders? Develop a
collaboration plan.
Contact Information
Dr. Johanna Dvorak, Director
Panther Academic Support Services
PASS/Bolton 180
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
P.O.Box 413
Milwaukee, WI 53201
[email protected]

: Using Peer Tutors to Improve College Students` Academic Success