The text below is a summary of the research evidence on the impact of peer tutoring on the educational attainment of pupils in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). It is an analysis of individual studies of peer tutoring on educational attainment in sub-Saharan Africa. The information here is valuable for African school leaders, administrators and policy makers. It is even more valuable for parents who maybe thinking of better ways to improve on the educational attainment of their children.
Effective Basic Services (eBASE) Africa developed this summary using available research evidence while also taking into consideration prominent themes arising from key informant interviews (KIIs) and focus group discussions (FGD), particularly FGD with teachers and students. The research evidence in this summary is acquired from a detailed and replicable search protocol used on a wide range – listed below – of research databases for related studies in low- and middle-income countries in general and sub-Saharan Africa in particular.
Definition of Strand
Peer tutoring refers to a variety of approaches in which learners are paired or work in groups to provide teaching support to each other. In involves cross-age tutoring in which an older student is the tutor, and reciprocal peer tutoring where learners alternate between the role of tutor and tutee (Higgins, et al., 2016).
Why is this strand important?
Increased school enrolment across SSA has heavily weighed on existing school resources and the number of students per teacher within the region is high. Within this context, peer tutoring could serve as an effective strategy by supporting pupils to maximize their own learning opportunities.
Research Evidence in Sub-Saharan Africa
Educational practitioners the world over have explored strategies to improve attainment. One of such strategies is peer tutoring. If well implemented by teachers, peer tutoring could be one key strategy in improving education in rural Africa (Adedeji & Olaniyan, 2011).
A small scale quasi-experimental study into the effects of peer tutoring on students’ academic performance in economics in Ilorin South, Nigeria found that quality peer tutoring significantly improved student test scores, compared students in the control group who received conventional instruction. The study suggests that peer tutoring had a positive impact on both male and female student test scores and provided “an opportunity for each student to be aware of their weaknesses.” (AbdulRaheem, Yusuf, & Odutayo, 2017).
A quasi-experimental study in two public schools in Ghana, Awudza, (2017) suggests that class wide peer tutoring (CWPT) instructional strategies had a more “significant effects on students’ achievement, retention and perception in quadratic functions” compared to students who received conventional teaching techniques. In a descriptive study of 12 schools in Kenya, 100% of department heads perceived peer tutoring to have a positive effect on students’ achievement in mathematics, by increasing student motivation, enhancing understanding of mathematical concepts, and building pupils’ confidence. (Oloo, Mutsotso, & Masibo, 2016).
Adekoya & Olatoye, (2011) in a pre-test, post-test research design with control group on a hundred and fifty Senior Secondary School Agricultural Science students, drawn from three schools in Nigeria, investigated the effects of three teaching strategies; demonstration, peer tutoring and lecture, on senior secondary school students’ achievement in an aspect of agricultural science. They found that, while demonstration is the most effective because it “affords students the opportunity to study on their own”, a combination of demonstration and peer tutoring also proved effective than traditional lectures, hence can be used for teaching and learning depending on the topic.
Other quasi-experimental studies in Nigeria and Ethiopia have also established that peer tutoring or peer assisted learning improves secondary school students’ performance in biology and technical drawing (Jibrin & Zayum, 2012; Ogundola, 2017), basic science (Etobro & Fabinu, 2018) and physics and chemistry practical (Alemu, 2020; Ogunleye & Bamidele, 2014).
Some researchers have rather focused on peer tutoring approaches towards specific demographics. For example, through a mix method study design Fox et al (2007) aimed to explore the possible advantages of cross-cultural peer tutoring of some sections of the Mathematics curriculum to probe the benefits of peer tutoring between students from high and low-income pupils in South Africa. The study suggests that both groups of students gained from cross-cultural peer teaching. Also, township learners witnessed an enhancement in their understanding of the mathematics topics covered as they performed significantly better than their peer in the control group. Mokuku et al, (2013) in a qualitative study involving 104 year 6 learners as tutors, 86 year 2 learners as tutees, and 8 teachers as facilitators, explored peer tutoring in the context of outdoor learning at a primary school in Lesotho. Determining learners’ perception on peer tutoring and outdoor activities, they established a positive associative effects of peer tutoring in the context of outdoor learning. However, they recommend further research on peer tutoring.
Overall, the research evidence in SSA suggests positive effects of peer tutoring on educational outcomes. Some experimental research to date has focused on subject specific topics such as the effects of peer tutoring on performance in economics or the impact of peer tutoring on students’ performance in agricultural sciences. Peer tutoring is associated with positive academic outcome, thought to contribute to the improvement of learners’ achievement. It may support pupils’ understanding of their strengths and weaknesses, and has been perceived by teachers, learners and school leaders as a positive intervention for improving academic achievement, peer tutoring supports pupils in understanding their strength and weaknesses.
Impact, Security, and Cost of Local Evidence
The evidence overwhelmingly suggest a positive association between peer tutoring and attainment. Nevertheless, the available evidence is limited in strength as studies on peer tutoring in SSA are either quasi-experimental studies or observational studies. Randomized trials are therefore recommended to ascertain the effectiveness of peer tutoring on educational attainment in SSA.
The cost of peer tutoring within the region is likely to be moderate.
Education Research Complete
Peer tutoring, peer assisted learning, peer teaching, peer instruction, reciprocal tutoring.
AbdulRaheem, Y., Yusuf, H., & Odutayo, A. (2017). Eﬀect of Peer Tutoring on Students’ Academic Performance in Economics in Ilorin South, Nigeria. Journal of Peer Learning.
Adedeji, S. O., & Olaniyan, O. (2011). Fundamentals of Teacher Education Development: Improving the conditions of teachers and teaching in rural schools across African countries. Addis Ababa: UNESCO: International Institute for Capacity Building in Africa.
Adekoya, Y., & Olatoye, R. (2011). Effect of Demonstration, Peer-Tutoring, and Lecture Teaching Strategies on Senior Secondary School Students’ Achievement in an Aspect of Agricultural Science. The Pacific Journal of Science and Technology.
Alemu, M. (2020). Improving Secondary School Students Physics Achievement Using Reciprocal Peer Tutoring: A Multi-level Quasi-Experimental Study. EURASIA Journal of Mathematics, Science and Technology Education.
Awudza, E. M. (2017). Impact of Classwide Peer Tutoring Method on Senior High School Students’ Achievement and Retention in Quaratic Functions.
Bukhala, P. W. (2012). Effects of a Peer Tutor Programme on Social, Psychomotor and Physical Fitness of Youth With and Without INtellectual Disability in Nairobi County, Kenya.
Etobro, A. B., & Fabinu, O. (2018). Effects of Peer-Assisted Learning Strategies as Pedagogical Approaches on Students’ Academic Performance in Basic Science. Asian Journal of Education and Social Studies.
Fox, T. D., Vos, N., & Geldenhuys, J. (2007). The experience of cross-cultural peer teaching for a group of mathematics learners. Pythagoras 65.
Higgins, S., Katsipataki, M., Villanueva-Aguilera, A., Coleman, R., Henderson, P., Major, L., … Mason, D. (2016). The Sutton Trust-Education Endowment Foundation Teaching and Learning Toolkit. Education Endowment Foundation.
Jibrin, A. G., & Zayum, S. (2012). Effects of Peer Tutoring Instructional Method on the Academic Achievement in Biology Among Secondary School Students in Zaria Metropolis, Nigeria. Journal of Research in Education and Society.
Mokuku, T., Ramakhula, L., & Jobo, M. (2013). learners’ Experiences of Peer tutoring in the Context of outdoor learning The Case of a Primary School. Southern African Journal of Environmental Education, Vol. 29, 2012.
Ogundola, P. I. (2017). Effects of Peer Tutoring Strategy on Academic Achievement of Senior Secondary School Students in Technical Drawing in Nigeria. British Journal of Education, Society and Behavioral Science.
Ogunleye, B. O., & Bamidele, A. (2014). Effects of Classwide Peer Tutoring on Students’ Concept Attainment and Achievement in Chemistry Practicals. A Journal of Studies in Education, Faculty of Education, University of Lagos.
Oloo, E. A., Mutsotso, P., & Masibo, D. (2016). Effects of Peer Teaching Among Students on Their Performance in Mathematics. International Journal of Scientific Research and Innovative Technology.