Dublin City University
Office of the Dean of Teaching and Learning (ODTL)

Evaluation of effectiveness of Peer tutoring

To measure the effectiveness of the Peer Tutoring, two groups were used, a tutored group, and a control group who were individually matched in points level, and subject expertise with individuals from the tutored group. Both quantitative and qualitative measures of effectiveness were used.


  1. Peer tutoring significantly reduced the number of students who dropped out the course in the first semester.
  2. Peer tutoring significantly improved the student performance in Chemistry.
  3. Attendance at Mathematics in-house tests was significantly better.
  4. The scores on an index of student study strategies, the LASSI test (Learning and Study Strategy Inventory) were significantly higher for the tutored group for motivation, time-management, information processing and test-strategies.
  5. Students liked the peer tutor sessions, would have liked more of them, and would recommend them to a friend.
  6. The tutors enjoyed their role as peer tutors, and visibly matured over the course of the Semester.
  7. The Journals that the tutors kept were a fantastic source of feedback about the peer tutoring generally, and about the course as a whole.
  8. The effectiveness of a variety of approaches for tutoring was assessed and a large number of recommendations made for improvements.

Quantitative measures of the effectiveness of peer tutoring

Quantitative measures of the effectiveness of peer tutoring were based on the following:

Qualitative feedback

Both tutees and the tutors were interviewed.

At the end of the first Semester, a discussion was carried out with tutees in each tutorial group, and the main points summarised.

One tutor also asked the students a number of questions about the tutoring.

At the start of Semester II, the students were also asked for their individual comments.

Two formal discussion sessions were run with the tutors at 4 and 8 weeks into the Semester.

Each tutor kept a journal where they wrote down their impressions of the tutoring process after each tutorial. This was integrated in their BT2 course, and the students were assessed on the breadth and clarity of their comments and recommendations.

Early in Semester II, the students were asked to give a presentation where they were asked to cover their impressions of the peer tutoring, and to highlight the successes, failures, and ways to improve the process.

Quantitative Feedback

"Attrition rates"

Four of the 24 individuals in the control group dropped out of the course in the first Semester while no-one in the tutored group dropped out of the course.

Probability of dropping out of the course = 4/24 = 0.167.

Probability of having zero dropouts in a sample of 24 = 0.0125.

Semester I examination results in CS101, Inorganic and Organic Chemistry

Factorial ANOVA and correlation and regression analysis were used to tease out the factors which might affect examination performance

Students who had Higher Chemistry at Leaving cert. did significantly better than those without (p=0.022).

The higher the points at Leaving cert., the better the mark in Chemistry (p=0.002).

Performance in Mathematics

In the control group, 16 of the 20 students still in the course presented for Maths tests 2 and 3.

In the tutored group, 23 of the 24 still in the course presented.

Study Strategies

The results from the 10 scales of the LASSI test are shown below. Students were given the test at the start of Semester I, before the peer tutoring and then again at the start of Semester II. To remove the person to person differences in perceptions of studying, the significance testing was carried out not on the Semester II results but on the difference for each person between the results from the first test in Semester I, and the second in Semester II.
ScaleSig. (2-tailed)Mean Difference
Time Management.004-48.2500
Information Processing.015-48.6667
Selecting Main Ideas.655-6.3750
Study Aids.086-30.0417
Test Strategies.082-28.1667

Qualitative feedback from tutees

In tutorials in the last 2 weeks of the first semester, students were asked for qualitative feedback on the Peer Tutoring sessions. Students were asked what they would like us to stop, start and continue, and to give us an overall impression of the tutoring. 5 of the 6 groups gave back feedback.

Areas the students would like us to stop or have less of.

  1. The one area consistently identified by all students was the timing of the meetings on Monday mornings.
  2. One student felt that the search for feedback was taking too much time from the tutorials.
  3. Areas the students would like us to start

  4. To cover all the subjects and not just Chemistry and Mathematics.
  5. More sessions per week.
  6. Calling a roll of students, making attendance mandatory, and replacing those students who fail to attend on a regular basis.
  7. Allowing tutors to photocopy materials for use in tutorials.
  8. One student would like more explanation of reasons why answers are incorrect as well as being shown the correct way to do things.
  9. All students reported that they would like worked solutions to examination papers.
  10. Areas the students would like us to continue

  11. Peer Tutorials. Tutees liked the tutorials a lot, would like more of them, and would like them to continue into Semester II.
  12. The focus on areas of difficulty.
  13. The use of the Mentoring Suite for tutorials.
  14. Covering examination papers and tutorial questions.

Overall impression

Tutorials are very useful. All students who consistently attended tutorials were very enthusiastic about them. The one major flaw brought out by all students is the timing of tutorials on Monday mornings.

Individual Student responses to the peer tutoring

Overview of the tutors comments

The two meetings with the tutors, the Journals and the presentations were a rich source of feedback about the processes involved in peer tutoring. The comments fell into a number of areas, and included recommendations to improve the tutoring. The journals in particular provided a very rich source of feedback.

In addition, there were a number of comments and recommendations about the course generally, about the modules in Chemistry, and about the module in Mathematics. The tutoring therefore also acted as an excellent source of feedback about the course.

Group Dynamics

Effectiveness of differing strategies

How can we do it better next time?

[copyright] [legal]

Office of the Dean of Teaching and Learning (ODTL)
[Uploaded: Februrary 2001. Maintainer: odtl@dcu.ie]