How Peer Teaching Improves Student Learning and 10 Ways To Encourage It
eer teaching is not a new concept. It can be traced back to Aristotle’s use of, or student leaders, and to the letters of Seneca the Younger. It was first organized as a theory by Scotsman Andrew Bell in 1795, and later implemented into French and English schools in the 19th century. Over the past 30-40 years, peer teaching has become increasingly popular in conjunction with mixed ability grouping in K-12 public schools and an interest in more financially efficient methods of teaching.
Not to be confused with peer instruction—a relatively new concept designed by Harvard professor Eric Mazur in the early 1990s— peer teaching is a method by which one student instructs another student in material on which the first is an expert and the second is a novice.
Goodlad and Hurst (1989) and Topping (1998) note that academic peer tutoring at the college level takes many different forms. Surrogate teaching, common at larger universities, involves giving older students, often graduates or advanced undergraduates, some or all of the teaching responsibility for undergraduate courses. Proctoring programs involve one-on-one tutoring by students who are slightly ahead of other students, or who have successfully demonstrated proficiency with the material in the recent past. Cooperative learning divides classmates into small groups, with each person in the group responsible for teaching others, and each contributing a unique piece to the group performance on a task. Reciprocal peer tutoring (RPT), a more specific version of cooperative learning, groups classmates into pairs to tutor each other.