Students to students helping to overcome learning difficulties

Project duration: 2004 - 2005

Project supported by:
World Bank

Project partner:
Children Support Center, Lithuania

Project background
There are many activities to involve students into the school life: organization of the traditional events, charity actions for the children, living in nurseries and other. Nevertheless, the most significant for children at school is learning at class and achievements at school subjects. This activity influences their self-esteem, perception of the others and to a great extent predicts success in their adult life. Therefore it is very important to provide pupils with the opportunities to look more attentively at learning processes of their own and the others. The concept of student-oriented teaching methodology takes a new aspect, when we allow them to teach and learn from each other, organizing peer and cross-age tutoring activities. There is also a new frame for understanding and tolerance for their schoolmates, support for each other.

The research material, which is available at the Educational Recourse Information Center’s (USA) website and the websites of the other educational organizations show, that peer and cross-age tutoring influences the school life in many ways: improves their academic achievement, social skills, enhances positive attitude toward school, self – control, diminishes tardiness, truancy and drop-out rate. It could be applied for the various groups of students: with gaps in learning achievements, with learning disabilities, attention deficit hyperactivity disorders and others.

Research also gives evidence, that despite the fact of time consuming teachers’ and tutors’ preparation for this activity, peer and cross-age tutoring is still cheaper in comparison with the reducing class size, increasing the length of the school day and Computer Aided Instruction and also more efficient.

There were some efforts at Adam Mickiewch's gymnasium of Vilnius to implement these ideas into practice. But following the reports of the pupils, who were involved into this activity, we could say, that they need some methodological support, psychological advice and community involvement to make this activity really work.

Project aim
The project aimed to involve school communities in peer and cross-age tutoring activities, promoting the idea of learning to learn as the main accelerator towards the goal of inclusive education.
Project objectives
  • To provide teachers and tutors with teaching instructions for partner-learning.
  • To achieve multiple increase of help-giving recourses.
  • To enhance learning results of tutees and tutors and their contentment with the learning activities.
  • To increase the collaboration skills between the teachers, students and their parents.
  • To make learning processes a part of democratization of school community life.
Project participants
Target groups of the project - teachers, students and their parents, school communities.

15 teachers and 42 students of 7-10 grades from these schools participated in the project:
Vilnius J. Basanavicius secondary school
Grigiskes secondary school of Vilnius municipality
Vilnius A. Kulvietis secondary school
Vilnius A. Mickiewich gymnasium
Vilnius M. Mazvydas secondary school
Vilnius P. Vileisis basic school

Project lecturers:Romualda RAGUOTIENE - psychologist of Vilnius A.Mickievich gymnasium 
Erna PETKUTE - Director of Children Support Center

Project activities
September 2004-May 2005
Workshops for the teachers and students-tutors

September-October 2004
Organization of peer and cross-age tutoring clubs

September 2004-June 2005
Ongoing assessment of peer tutoring activities

September 2004-June 2005
Discussions on peer and cross-age tutoring activities at the students’ councils

September-October 2004
Preparation of the tools to evaluate students learning progress and contentment with the learning activities

September 2004-June 2005
Monitoring of learning progress of tutors and tutees during the project time

September 2004, May 2005
Survey on contentment with the learning activities of tutors and tutees in the beginning and in the end of the project

October 2004-May 2005
Consultations for tutors regarding teaching contents, methods, communication problems

October 2004-May 2005
Publications in the schools newsletters about the project activities and problematic issues

March-May 2005
Preparation and publishing the methodical recommendations on peer and cross-age tutoring

October 2004-May 2005
Discussions of the project activities with students teachers and parents

Project results
  • The project activities improved child-oriented teaching skills, provided the opportunities to discuss openly the teaching and learning issues, to look for and mobilize inner school resources for learning improvement.
  • The methodic recommendations for the teachers who want to organize peer tutoring in their schools were prepared.
  • A group of teachers and tutors prepared for teaching new groups after the end of the project.

Learning to learn is one of the goals of contemporary school. Our project like a small laboratory enabled to notice, how this goal is possible to achieve and what stands on the way to it.
The teachers involved in the project were interested and trying to keep the timetable of the project. This project stressed the reflection skills and the ability to go deep in to the learning specifics of the particular child, which is more and more demanded at the contemporary school because of the ongoing process of integration children with the special educational needs. Our project gave the opportunity for the teachers to develop these necessary skills.
Students involved in the project seemed also interested, because they have the possibility to learn communication skills and to discuss the difficulties in very concrete activities, which is not common in usual class setting. Giving voice for children in the process of solving problems of their learning is the part of democratization of school community life.

Communication with the school communities was not always easy, but useful, because the process of the discussion showed, that participants became more and more involved in the topic and developed the attitude of the necessity to organize support for those in need.
Some teachers experienced significant difficulties in monitoring the learning process of the peer they coach, because this is a quite new skill they have to learn.
Some cases showed, that teachers are reluctant to negotiate with parents difficult topics, such as, why the parents do not allow their children either to help other children or to receive the help from other children after the lessons, why the work in peers do no show results at class and how to solve this inadequacy.
Some pupils think that life at school is so intense and out of their control, that the best thing they can do is to help themselves. This is the attitude worth constant teachers and parents attention. This is an obstacle for the sustainability of our project ideas.
Raguotiene R., Petkute E. Methodical Recommendations for Teachers Organizing Peer and Cross-age Tutoring Activities. - Vilnius : Modern Didactics Center, 2005.

Publication introduces a peer  and cross-age tutoring model, elaborated during the project, that could be applied at other Lithuania schools. The methodical and practical guidelines of peer and cross-age tutoring programme implementation as well as individual cases of peer tutoring are presented in the publication.

Workshops for students-tutors



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