Fulfilling the Research Mandate

Your TutorLink Tutor Training program is created based off of over 20-years of thorough research in the successful methods and practices of tutoring. Use the links below to review some of the research that backs TutorLinks award-winning structure and design.


One-to-one tutorials are widely recognized as an effective and superior method of instruction when compared to group or traditional classroom learning environments.

Tutoring can adapt instruction to the learner’s pace, learning style, and level of understanding. Feedback and correction are immediate. Basic misunderstandings can be quickly identified and corrected, practice provided, and more difficult material introduced as soon as the student is ready. (Gaustad 1993)

In 2001, the Office of the Deputy Secretary, Planning and Evaluation, for the U.S. Department of Education reported that students tutoring students is effective because it provides reinforcement, individual attention, close contact with understanding peers, and support for academically struggling students. The report further concluded that peer and cross-age tutoring increased reading levels for students as determined by pre-tests and post-tests.

The World Book TutorLink Peer/Cross-age Tutor Program is a process which includes methods, protocols, and benchmarks developed through rigorous field testing over a 14 year period. Between 1987 and 2001, the study population included nearly 6000 (six thousand) 4th to 12th grade students from both public and private schools, representing diverse academic abilities and socio-economic backgrounds. All TutorLink program components were critically reviewed by nationally certified tutoring administrators and directors, as well as licensed educators from the elementary, middle, high school, and college levels. TutorLink field testing concludes that peer/cross-age tutoring is not intended to be a substitute for assistance from trained resource specialists. Learning-disabled students require specialized, professional assistance. Peer tutors cannot remediate dyslexia, dysgraphia, auditory discrimination problems, or visual memory problems. Peer/cross-age tutors can, however, provide adjunct assistance and help struggling learners find success in the seemingly insoluble academic problems they face each day. Peer tutors provide additional support systems for challenged students, model successful academic behaviors, and guide students to understand and complete assignments. Peer tutors help students organize materials, manage time, comprehend key concepts presented in class, and study for tests. Over 14 years of TutorLink field testing with nearly 6000 students has proven that success outcomes occur when trained tutors model practical assistance to frustrated, discouraged, and academically struggling students.


Tutorial administrators and researchers agree that multiple definitions exist in the literature for both peer and cross-age tutoring. That is where the agreement ends. Gaustad (1993) concludes that peer tutoring occurs when the tutor and student are the same age. In cross-age tutoring, the student is usually younger than the tutor. But even Gaustad admits that the term peer tutoring is often used as a blanket label for both types of tutorial situations. Damon and Phelps (1989) caution that peer tutoring is often called cross-age tutoring because the tutor is more than two years older than the student. For Damon and Phelps, the term peer tutoring is an oxymoron. The matter of this terminology is further confused because at many schools, peer tutoring is referred to as “peer teaching,” “peer learning,” “students helping students,” “child-teach-child,” or “peer homework help.”

The most commonly accepted definitions of peer and cross-age tutoring appear in the ERIC Digests.

Peer teaching or tutoring is the process by which a competent pupil, with minimal training and with a teacher’s guidance, helps one or more students at the same grade level learn a skill or concept.

Cross-age tutors are students in higher grade levels who work with younger students. (Thomas 1993)

Kalkowski (1995) reported many benefits of peer or cross-age tutoring:

  • The learning of academic skills
  • The development of social behaviors and classroom discipline
  • Enhancement of peer relations
  • Improved self-esteem
  • Improved internal locus of control
  • A more cooperative and pleasant classroom atmospheres
  • The recruitment of future teachers into the profession
  • Students who acquire skills transferable to employment or business
  • Students who acquire skills transferable to parenting
  • Improved vocabulary skills
  • Improved reading skills

Kalkowski also cites Levin, Glass, and Meister (1987) who reported that peer and cross-age tutorial programs are more cost effective when compared to the cost of Computer Aided Instruction (CAI), increasing the length of the school day, summer school, or other school programs.

Peer tutoring is effective because the tutor can provide relevant assistance to the student, the information is delivered in a timely and understandable manner, and the tutor provides an opportunity for the tutee to use the new information (Webb 1989). A major reason that peer and cross-age tutoring is effective is that tutors and their students often speak a more similar language than do teachers and students (Hedin 1987, Cazden 1986). Being closer in knowledge and status, the tutee in a peer relation feels freer to express opinions, ask questions, and risk untested solutions. The interaction between instructor and pupil is more balanced and more lively. This is why conversations between peer tutors and their tutees are high in mutuality even though the relationship is not exactly equal in status. (Damon and Phelps 1989).

Gastaud (1993) stated that a major reason that peer tutoring is effective is that peer or cross-age tutors who struggled academically in the past are often more patient with students who are struggling currently. The Peer Research Laboratory (2002) stated that peer tutoring is a “strengths-based approach that emphasizes students’ assets and skills to help themselves as well as someone else. In peer (tutoring), students are sent the message that they have something to offer other students, something to teach.”

The ERIC Clearinghouse on Educational Management (2002) reports that there are over 500 research documents dealing with the effectiveness of peer and cross-age tutoring. A brief review of the research includes:

  • A list of proven instructional and administrative practices suggests some of the actions teachers and schools can take to enhance student learning and other outcomes. Peer tutoring, with its focus on monitoring, support, and corrective feedback, represents specific means of implementing these practices. (Cotton 2002)
  • Students at all grade levels participating in tutorial programs, improved their reading performance more than the expected gain for the typical student at that grade level. (AmeriCorps 2001)
  • Peer tutoring usually resulted in significant cognitive gains for both the tutor and the tutee. (Britz, Dixon, and McLaughlin 1989)
  • In the areas of literacy especially, both the tutee in a cross-age program, makes substantial gains in vocabulary, reading accuracy, self-correction and comprehension. Cross-age tutoring programs are indeed very successful. (Marious 2000)
  • In a study of middle school students, peer tutoring was identified as a successful and appropriate educational intervention for readers. (Fisher 2001)
  • Cross-age tutoring is an excellent cooperative learning tool and should be used daily in conjunction with classroom teaching. ( Thorpe and Wood 2000)
  • When children teach children, the result is marked improvement in student learning which increases the productivity of the school. In peer tutoring, students are “prosumers” – they are both producers and consumers of education. (Peer Research Laboratory 2002)
  • Peer tutoring is the most cost effective way to improve both math and reading performance. (Peer Research Laboratory 2002)
  • Effects on both tutors and tutees were positive in the areas of learning, attitude toward subject matter, and self-concept. (Cohen and Kulik 1981)
  • Peer tutoring is well worth the cost and effort when compared with the costs of many alternatives that are teacher or computer mediated. (Greenwood, Carta, and Kamps 1990)
  • Seventy-one percent of the students in six remedial middle school teachers’ classes achieved 70% accuracy on criterion measures for four out of five days, while 19% of the control students did, when tutored by four of the best students in each class. (Palincsar and Brown 1986)
  • Peer tutors are more effective for reading programs because parents may not always be available or appropriate tutors; peer tutors are plentiful, or available for training and can be readily monitored and organized; low-progress readers respond readily to peer tutors; and tutoring is beneficial to tutors and increases their caring for others. (Wheldall and Colmar 1990)
  • Peer tutoring is cost effective, has a sound theoretical basis and is effective has demonstrated a positive impact on student learning. (Bartz and Miller 1991)
  • Peer and cross-age tutoring contribute to a child’s social and cognitive development. (Benard 1990)
  • Tutoring programs are more cost effective than increased instructional time, reduced class size or CAI. (Berliner and Casanova 1988)
  • Peer tutoring is effective, particularly for at-risk students.(Gaustad 1992)
  • Validates the positive effects of peer tutoring. (Giesecke, Cartledge and Gardner 1993)
  • After six weeks of tutoring, 16 truant and tardy junior high school students all made significant gains in locus of control and most showed decreased truancy and tardiness. (Lazerson, Foster, Brown, and Hummel 1988)
  • Peer tutoring also has benefit for the tutor. High school students raised their own reading scores almost three years, during a five month period, as a result of tutoring fourth graders in reading. (Peer Research Laboratory 2002)

The design of an effective tutoring program is dictated by its objectives, including age group targeted and subject area, and by availability of human, physical, and financial resources. Establishing specific, measurable objectives permits assessment of individual progress and evaluation of the program’s success as a whole. Frequent assessment of student progress gives program staff feedback on the effectiveness of lessons and encourages both tutor and tutee. (Gaustad 1993). Gaustad (1993) continues that:

  • Procedures must be established for selecting and matching tutors and tutees.
  • Tutors require training to accompany carefully structured materials.
  • Tutors require ongoing supervision and support.
  • Tutors must learn from each other’s experiences as well as from the staff or director.
  • Support by teachers and administrators is essential for a tutoring program to succeed and be sustained.

The need for trained tutors is clear. Staub and Hunt (1993) concluded that trained tutors had a significantly higher success with tutees than a control group of tutors who were not trained. The need for structured and ongoing training is one key to the success of tutorial programs as reported by AmeriCorps in a 2001 report. The AmeriCorps Tutorial Outcomes Study (2001) cited the following practices as key to tutorial effectiveness.

  • Tutors meet with students at least three times per week.
  • Programs conduct formal evaluations.
  • Tutors are trained both prior to and during the tutoring program.

The TutorLink Peer Tutor Training Program is a process that works in conjunction with your content and curriculum. TutorLink works across all disciplines and for all age/grade levels. TutorLink is based on the three basic elements of every successful tutoring program as reflected in the research and professional literature: administrative vision and organization; sound understanding of the tutoring process; and structured training for initial and ongoing professional development of tutors and coordinators.

The three TutorLink guides provide proven methods, practices, and protocols for delivering sound tutorial assistance and for planning program growth.

  • Define program goals, objectives and mission statement
  • Analyze existing program and support
  • Develop a leadership plan for all staff
  • Identify target student population
  • Identify and recruit tutors
  • Determine location and materials needed for program
  • Promote your program on campus and in the community
  • Identify the causes of low grades
  • Determine why students are challenged to succeed academically
  • Discover proven tutoring methods and protocols
  • Understand how to utilize forms for program tracking and evaluation
  • Understand the Discovery Process
  • Learn the 4 key steps to every successful tutoring session
  • Learn how to gather and analyze data
  • Understand the importance of the initial tutoring session
  • Module 1: Orientation
  • Module 2: The Tutoring Sessions
  • Module 3: Tutoring Skills
  • Module 4: Evaluating Progress
  • The Tutor Code of Ethics
  • Procedures must be established for selecting tutors and students.
  • Tutors require structured training to learn and reinforce key skill sets.
  • Tutors require ongoing supervision and support.
  • Tutors must learn from each other’s experiences as well as from the staff or director.
  • Support by teachers, administrators, and community is essential for a tutoring program to succeed and be sustained.
  • Tutors must meet with students in a structured and scheduled environment.
  • Programs must conduct formal evaluations.
  • Programs must document success in order to be sustained.

The World Book TutorLink Peer/Cross-age TutorProgram provides each of these key elements for success. Practically driven and research confirmed, TutorLink is an essential resource.


AmeriCorps. Tutoring Outcomes Study, AbT Associates, Corporation for National and Community Service, February 2001. http://www.americorps.org/research/tutoring_0201.html.

Bartz, D., and Miller, L.K. 12 Teaching Methods to Enhance Student Learning. (Report No. ISBN-0-8106-1093-0). Washington, DC: National Education Association, 1991 (ED 340 686).

Benard, B. The Case For Peers, Portland, OR: Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory, 1990.

Berliner, D., and Casanova, U. “Peer Tutoring: A New Look at a Popular Practice.” Instructor 97/5 (1988): 14-15.

Britz, M.W.; Dixon, J.;and McLaughlin,T.F. “The Effects of Peer Tutoring on Mathematics Performance: A Recent Review.” B.C. Journal of Special Education. 13/1 (1989): 17-33.

Cazden, C.B. “Classroom Discourse.” In Handbook of Research on Teaching, 3rd edition, edited by M.C. Wittrock. New York: MacMillan, 1986, 450-451.

Cohen, P.A. and Kulik, J.A. “Synthesis of research on the Effects of Tutoring.” Educational Leadership 39/3 (1981): 226-227.

Cotton, K. “Peer Tutoring: Lake Washington High School and Benjamin Rush Elementary School.” School Improvement Research Series. Snapshot #5. NW Regional Educational Library. 2002.

Camon, W. and Phelps, E. “Three Approaches of Peer Learning and Their Educational Uses.” Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, New Orleans, LA, April 1988.

Fisher, D. “Cross-Age Tutoring: Alternatives to the Reading Resource Room for Struggling Adolescent Readers.” Journal of Instructional Psychology 28/4 (2001): 234-237.

Gaustad, J. “Peer and Cross-Age Tutoring.” ERIC Digest 79. Eugene, OR: ERIC Clearinghouse on Educational Management, March 1993.

Gaustad, J. “Tutoring At-Risk Students.” OSSC Bulletin 36/3 (1992).

Giesecke, D.; Cartledge, G.; and Gardner, R. “Low Achieving Students as Successful Cross-Age Tutors.” Preventing School Failure 37/3 (1993): 34-43.

Greenwood, C.R.; Carta, J.J.; and Kamps, D. “Teacher-Mediated Versus Peer-Mediated Instruction: A Review of Educational Advantages and Disadvantages.” In Children Helping Children, edited by H.C. Foot, M.J.Morgan, and R.H.Shute. New York: John Wiley and Sons, 1990, 1777-205.

Hedin, D. “Students as Teachers: A Tool for Improving School.” Social Policy 17/3 (1987): 42-47.

Kalkowski, P. “Peer and Cross-age Tutoring.” School Improvement Research Series. Close-up #18. NW Regional Educational Library. 1995.

Lazerson, D.B.; Foster, H.L.; Brown, S.I.; and Hummel, J.W. “Low-Achieving “The Effectiveness of Cross-Age Tutoring with Truant, Junior High School Students with Learning Disabilities.” Journal of Learning Disabilities 21/4 (1988): 253-255.

Levin, H.M.; Glass, G.V.; Meister, G.R. “Cost-Effectiveness of Computer Aided Instruction.” Educational Review 11/1 (1987): 50-72.

Marious, S.E. “Mix and Match: The Effects of Cross-Age Tutoring on Literacy.” Reading Improvement 37/3 (2000): 126-128.

Office of the Deputy Secretary, Planning and Evaluation Service, United States Department of Education. “Evidence That Tutoring Works.” 2001. http://www.nationalservice.org/areads/about/evtutoringworks.pdf.

Palinscar, A.S., and Brown, A.L. “Interactive Teaching toi Promote Independent Learning From Text.” The Reading Teacher 39/8 (1986): 771-777.

Peer Research Laboratory. “Peer Tutoring Works Both Ways.” National Self-Help Clearinghouse, March 2002. http”//www.selfhelpweb.org/peer.html.

Staub, D., and Hunt, P. “The Effects of Social Interaction Training on High School Peer Tutors of Schoolmates with Severe Disabilities.” Exceptional Children 60/1 (1993): 41-57.

Thomas, R.L. “Cross-Age and Peer Tutoring.” ERIC Digest ED 350598. Eugene, OR: ERIC Clearinghouse on Educational Management, 1993.

Thorpe, L., and Wood, K. “Cross-Age Tutoring for Young Adolescents.” The Clearinghouse 73/4 (2000): 239-242.

Webb, N.M. “Peer Interaction and Learning In Small Groups.” In Peer Interaction, Problem-Solving and Cognition: Multidisciplinary Perspectives, edited by N.M. Webb. New York: Pergamon Press, 1989, 21-29.

Whedall, K., and Colmar, S. “Peer Tutoring and Low-Progress Readers Using ‘Pause, Prompt, Praise’.” In Children Helping Children, edited by H.C.Foot, M.J. Morgan, and R.H. Shute. New York: John Wiley and Sons, 1990, 117-134.