Colleges Research

Peer Tutoring vs. Professional Tutoring

2015 study analyzing final grades and their relation to different kinds of academic assistance concluded that peer tutoring is significantly more effective for college students than professional tutoring, in both a one-on-one and group setting.

The closer the tutor and tutee were in grade, the more problem solving the tutee engaged in during the session.”

There are two primary reasons why this is true:

1. Students relate to their tutors more easily.

Tutoring is a new experience for many, but having someone about the same age as you who just took (and did well in) the class you are currently taking can make the process go a lot smoother. Being able to relax in front of your tutor and connect about shared experiences not only makes sessions more enjoyable but also makes them more productive. The analysis of the study states that “the closer the tutor and tutee were in grade, the more problem solving the tutee engaged in during the session” (57). An added level of comfort with your tutor leads to added engagement during sessions, which leads to quicker positive results.

2. Tutors relate to their students more easily.

Professional tutors often use methods of teaching that are very similar to what a student’s professor is using during lecture, since oftentimes professional tutors are former professors or teachers themselves. While these tutors are certainly knowledgeable about their subject(s), they are not nearly as knowledgeable about how a student can most effectively learn because it has been so long since they were on that side of the classroom. Peer tutors, on the other hand, can draw from their personal experience of learning the material to make connections and communicate concepts in a way that a college student can more easily understand. On top understanding the course material extremely well, the tutor also understands the nature of the class itself and has a much better idea about how the assessments are structured and graded.

The study showed that peer tutors were even more effective in a group setting (2–5 students), stating that “the test yielded significantly higher grades for students who attended peer group tutoring than students who attended professional group tutoring” (92), but we will explore group tutoring more in-depth in a future post.

In the end (while there are far more reasons why than the two listed), it is clear that peer tutoring is more effective than professional tutoring for college students.

Still not convinced? On average, peer tutors charge less than half as much as professional tutors.