ClassWide Peer Tutoring

ClassWide Peer Tutoring (CWPT) is a comprehensive instructional procedure or teaching strategy based on reciprocal peer tutoring and group reinforcement wherein an entire classroom of students is actively engaged in the process of learning and practicing basic academic skills simultaneously in a systematic and fun way. 
The CWPT program can double or triple the amount of practice time that students typically receive in the basic subject areas as they interact directly with the learning task. These academic tasks can include, but are not limited to, automatic spelling, rapid solutions to math facts, reading sight words, fluent reading, learning vocabulary, definitions, and content facts, as well as completing study guides. 
The CWPT program has been researched and used since 1980 and has repeatedly demonstrated that the tutoring process increases students' time on task and improves academic performance.
ClassWide Peer Tutoring has been proven effective with students from pre-school age to high school age levels, and has successfully been used with general, special education, limited English proficient students, attention deficit disordered students and students at risk for academic failure, regardless of ability levels. 
The primary goal of CWPT is to facilitate students' achievement and mastery of any classroom content subject matter. It incorporates a stimulus-response, error correction, tutoring technique and game format that benefit both the tutor and the tutee. 
In a CWPT classroom, students are paired with a same-aged peer to work together to learn the academic task at hand. In each pair of students, one performs the role of the tutor (the teacher role) by providing the content stimulus (whether it be a pronounced spelling word, a stated math problem, or a direction for reading a passage aloud) to the other student. The other student (the tutee) performs the learning student role by responding both orally and in writing. During this time, the tutor monitors and assesses the correctness of the responses. 
CWPT is based on a basketball game format with the entire classroom being divided into two equal ability teams who are competing to be the winning team by earning the most points during the tutoring process. In each tutoring pair, the responding student (the tutee) earns points based on the correctness of the answers. The tutor awards 2 points for every correct answer and as soon as the tutee makes an error in a response, the tutor provides the correct answer for the tutee to model. One point is awarded for every assisted answer the tutee correctly practices three times in both the oral and written form. Each student performs his/her specific role for a specified amount of time, and at the end of that time, the students switch roles so that the tutor now becomes the tutee and vice versa, allowing the same amount of time for the new tutee to earn points and be more directly involved with the content in the responding role. At the end of the second round of tutoring, the points earned from all members of the two teams are added together to determine the winning team for the day. 
The success of the CWPT program lies mainly in its 7 basic operational components. These components are:

  1. Multi-modality format
  2. Reciprocal and distributed practice
  3. Immediate error correction and feedback
  4. Game format with partner pairing and competing teams
  5. Built-in reinforcement
  6. High mastery levels
  7. Measured outcomes

The multi-modality format used in CWPT is the key for learning. The peer tutoring process incorporates each of the various learning modalities or styles by which children learn. The students "hear", "see", "say", and "write" their responses, tapping into all of the learning modalities, and each individual student determines his/her strongest modality and uses it to his/her advantage to acquire information quickly. With this format, success is easily achieved by using the modality that locks in learning. The traditional teacher lecture only reaches those students who are auditory learners, and the rest are literally lost. The multi-modality feature of CWPT provides the format whereby every student can utilize the way(s) that he/she learns best, resulting in more thorough and retainable learning. 

Reciprocal and distributed practice happens every time the students are paired together to learn information. It is reciprocal in that each student in a pair gets to be both the tutor or teacher as well as the tutees or student. The practice with the content is distributed or divided between the partners when it is their time to do the responding in the role of the tutee. This component provides the "active engagement" and "repeated practice" for all students. 
Immediate error correction and feedback are the cornerstones of the peer tutoring success. CWPT attempts to get at "errorless" learning by stopping the tutee as soon as they say or write anything that is incorrect. They are told and/or shown the correct answer and are allowed to practice the correct answer 3 times for more solid learning. This feature provides immediate feedback and direct involvement with correct responses. 
Game format with partner pairing and competing teams only heighten students' desire to participate in CWPT. Everyone, especially children, love to play games and win. CWPT provides a vehicle to do just that in the classroom with help from a friend in efforts to be the winning team. That is why the points earned for learning are so powerful in engaging students to strive to be winners every day. It motivates, excites, and fights the boredom of traditional classroom instruction. This component provides the increased "opportunities to respond." 

Built-in reinforcement occurs when students verbally reinforce one another for good work during tutoring, when the teacher acknowledges exceptional tutoring behaviors with dispensing bonus points during the tutoring sessions, with verbal praise when recording points, and with classroom intrinsic reinforcement for the winning team each day. Reinforcement is also displayed when the entire classroom cheers as they get closer and achieve pre-established classroom totals or point goals. This feature provides an opportunity for students to feel good about themselves and to develop and be engaged in more appropriate social skills. 
High mastery levels can be achieved by every student when the content or subject matter materials are tailor-made to fit the individual deficit of the responding student. This is done by providing more challenging work for higher achieving students, appropriate grade level materials for the average achieving students, and fewer items of the grade level items for lower achieving students. This component provides a daily awareness of individual learning progress. 
Measured outcomes are built right into the CWPT program. There are weekly outcomes that are evidenced in the pre and post assessments that are given at the very beginning of every new unit of material to be taught, before any tutoring is done (pre assessment), and then again at the end of a one or two week tutoring session (post assessment). Daily outcomes are evidenced in the points earned and the written documents produced during the tutoring sessions by every student. This component provides a solid foundation for monitoring learning and overall academic improvements. 
To be successful at any grade level and in any content area, CWPT has demonstrated that it is flexible and adaptive, easy to implement, both time and cost effective, and it provides a fun, easy and effective way to teach and learn. 
Developed by: Barbara Terry, Ph.D., University of Kansas