The Evolution of Peer Tutoring Programs: Past, Present, and Future

By Ray Liu and Sherri Bealkowski on Saturday, July 7th

Durham, NC - July 7, 2018 - Peer (student-to-student) tutoring is not a new concept. In the US during the 19th and early 20th centuries, most American students attended a one-room schoolhouse. A single teacher was responsible for teaching reading, arithmetic, history, and geography to six to 40 students in first through eighth grades! It became common practice for teachers to enlist the help of older students to help teach younger ones. This fluid practice of matching older or more advanced students with those needing help became more difficult to implement as the industrial age progressed, cities grew, and education adapted by segregating students into same age, same grade classrooms.

Fast forward to today, and you will find that many school administrators are taking a fresh look at the time-tested practice of peer tutoring. Particularly at high achieving schools, where students are focused on competing for college admissions, it can be difficult to build a culture that strives for learning. Peer tutoring can help students achieve while also fostering collaboration over competition. The benefits school administrators can expect to see include:

  • Student tutees get free help from a peer at the same school, who has likely taken the same class with the same teacher
  • Student tutors reinforce their own understanding of the subject and are often eligible to receive volunteer hours for their efforts
  • Student tutors and tutees often form positive relationships that extend outside the tutoring experience, helping reduce the isolation, stress, and competition many students feel at school today
  • The workloads of overburdened teachers are reduced

Many schools have not been able to get a peer tutoring program off the ground due to competing priorities and the time and resources required, even though they recognize the value of peer tutoring.

One approach is to leverage existing resources such as a school's student-led National Honor Society or other service organizations to run peer tutoring programs. While these efforts may be strong for a year or two due to a group of dedicated students, once this group graduates the program often loses steam.

Schools that have implemented peer tutoring programs typically rely on generic tools such as pencil and paper, bulletin/whiteboard signups, or Google Forms and spreadsheets. But without specialized peer tutoring solutions, major obstacles still exist.

Students still have to be manually matched by the peer tutoring program coordinator, usually a busy faculty member. Making these pair matches manually often takes more time than a student who needs immediate help can spare. Ensuring tutor quality can also be a rather extensive process, asking individual teachers about their strong students and then screening or training these potential tutors. In addition, it is difficult to track when tutoring sessions are happening and whether the sessions' objectives have been met, making it almost impossible to evaluate program efficacy.

With the right technology, these problems can be alleviated. Students, parents, and educators are all benefited by a digital solution that:

  • Allows students to pick their own matches and easily schedule tutoring sessions
  • Enables administrators to oversee all activity
  • Provides faculty with insights about their students and their progress
  • Ensures ease-of-use and security
  • Reduces training and maintenance burden

In addition to these logistical concerns, the primary hurdle in an academic support program is getting students to be comfortable asking for help. Nowadays a software approach is one of the primary ways to do that. With a targeted software platform, a school can achieve the perfect balance between oversight and student independence. Administrators can suggest tutor/tutee matches, while leaving students to sign up for their own sessions. The students take ownership of their academic support, making it easier for them to request help, and the school can continuously monitor the volume and quality of the program.

Our solution, PeerKonnect, is a platform that lets tutees find peer tutors and schedule sessions. It has provided promising results at the high schools which have adopted it so far. By utilizing cloud technology, more students feel comfortable asking for help. Grades are improving, and students feel less stress and isolation thanks to academic success and new relationships with fellow students. On the administrative side, educators also get an intuitive dashboard to effectively manage their peer tutoring program.

With the rise of such cloud solutions, peer tutoring programs are poised to be revolutionized in the next few years. While these cloud solutions might not ever completely replace traditional peer tutoring programs, they can bring major benefits. By applying the same benefits of cloud-based focused software being used in many other areas of K-12 to peer tutoring, surely we can empower schools to help their students by fostering healthier, cooperative learning environments. We all want our kids to learn how to help others and to be open and receptive to being helped.

PeerKonnect Launches Innovative Student-to-Student Peer Tutoring Software

By Ray Liu on Tuesday, April 17th

Durham, NC - April 17, 2018 - PeerKonnect announces the release of its software as a service (SaaS) platform that aims to empower K-12 schools to create efficient, sustainable student-to-student peer tutoring programs. The platform is available via annual subscription by schools. PeerKonnect enables tutees to find a peer tutor at their school and schedule a tutoring session with them seamlessly, while allowing school administrators to oversee all activity through an easy-to-use dashboard.

Building on the success of several schools, PeerKonnect now includes an easy-to-manage administrative dashboard, a customized white-labeled landing page for each school, and onboarding of each school's information such as subjects and tutoring locations and times. These customizations provide PeerKonnect with the versatility to serve K-12 students in extremely competitive or underserved high schools.

"Peer tutoring is a very powerful concept that is mutually beneficial for both tutors and tutees, and can foster a healthy, cooperative learning environment within schools," says founder Ray Liu. However, traditional peer tutoring programs are hard to manage, and often utilize pencil and paper systems or manual pairing on generic Google Forms and spreadsheets. "PeerKonnect is a specialized cloud-based solution that enables schools to help more students more effectively, while saving both time and money."

Liu continues, "In an age of limited school resources and overburdened teachers, PeerKonnect is on a mission to provide academic support for students by connecting them through peer tutoring which, if done effectively, not only boosts student outcomes academically, but also fosters community and collaboration and can reduce the stress, competition, and isolation many students face today."

About PeerKonnect

Founded in 2017, PeerKonnect aims to connect students by building healthy, collaborative learning environments at schools across the nation with its unique peer tutoring platform. Founder and CEO Ray Liu has years of experience both tutoring firsthand and launching peer tutoring programs, and went through Duke University's 2017 Melissa & Doug Entrepreneur Program. His team of talented software engineers and growth managers are all driven to build PeerKonnect, having all seen the power of peer tutoring firsthand.

Contact Information

Name: Ray Liu
Phone Number: 703-261-5841