EFFECT OF PEER TUTORING ON ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT OF STUDENTS IN MATHEMATICS IN NIGERIA

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INTRODUCTION

  • Background of the Study

The field of education has undergone a significant shift in thinking about the nature of human learning and the conditions that best promote the varied dimension of human learning (Applefield, Huber & Moallem, 2001 as cited in Gan, 2008). Several researchers had suggested that human learn best if they repeat same behaviour several times, and the theory behind this type of learning in most western schools is viewed through the viewpoints constructivist. (Gan, 2008).

According to Facey-Shaw & Golding (2005) cognitive theories of learning attempt to explain how instructors can use information to improve students’ learning. However, constructivist theory suggests that human learn better if there is an interaction between previous knowledge and new knowledge. Thus, there has been a paradigm shift in the designing of instruction from behaviourists to cognitivists and now to constructivists (Cooper, 2008).

According to Gan, (2008) the conventional teaching approach usually involve teacher starting the lesson by introducing the topic or concept, explaining it and then give some works examples. Lastly, the teacher gives home work to the students. In this kind of learning situation, students are not able to construct their own understanding since they are not actively participating in the teaching and learning process. Students are not able to think creatively, innovatively and critically since they perceivably received what have been taught to them.

In addition some students are not able to keep with the teaching pace. Hence, in order to promote active participation of student’s teachers should adjust their teaching style to a more learner-centred once. One possible teaching approach is the peer-tutoring teaching approach. On the other hand, peer-tutoring are systematic, peer/mediated teaching strategies (Rohrbeck, Ginsburg-Block, Fantuzzo & Miller, 2003).

To further buttress on the above statement, Ezengwu (2007) stated that majority of teachers in the field still employ conventional methods in the classroom teaching, these methods though not without some advantages are found to be didactic, stereotype, ineffective and non-result oriented. The National Mathematics Advisory Panel (2008) as cited in Anselm (2010) argued that to continue to progress in mathematics achievement, we must improve the quality of mathematics instruction received by all secondary students. Although many factors affect a student’s mathematics learning, one factor over which schools have the most immediate control is the choice of mathematics program to be implemented by teachers, administrators and curriculum developers.

Peer tutoring is not a new idea, it is possibly as old as any form of collaborative or community action and has probably always taken place implicitly or vicariously (Topping 2005). But in a changing Higher Education landscape, more formalised and even assessed forms of peer teaching are becoming ever more popular. Indeed Peer tutoring schemes appear to becoming strategized; developing to meet calls for accountability, better assessment, and improved outcomes for students. (Anselm, 2010).

Peer tutoring is a very old practice traceable back at least as far as the ancient Greeks.  Archaic Definitions of peer tutoring perceived the peer tutor as a surrogate teacher in a linear model of the transmission of knowledge from teacher to tutor to tutee. Later it was realised that the peer tutoring interaction was qualitatively different from that between a teacher and a student, and involved different advantage and disadvantages (Razia, 2012).

Peer tutoring is an instructional strategy that consists of pairing students together to learn or practice an academic task. The pairs of students can be of the same or differing ability and/or age range. Peer tutoring encompasses a variety of instructional approaches including Cross-Age Tutoring, Peer-Assisted Learning Strategies (PALS), and Reciprocal Peer Tutoring (RPT). Variations exist among instructional approaches. However, the underlying theory is consistent: peer interaction can have a powerful influence on academic motivation and achievement (Light & Littleton, 2000; Steinburg, Dornbusch, & Brown, 2004; Wentzel, 2006). The research base also suggests that socialization experiences that occur during peer tutoring can benefit both the tutor and tutee by motivating students to learn and increasing their social standing among peers (Fuchs, D., Fuchs, L.S., Mathes & Martiniez, 2002; Rohrbeck et. al, 2003; Miller & Miller, 2008). When students understand the benefits of peer tutoring and have the tools to become effective tutors and tutees, they make greater progress than those who are not given any instruction on how to work together (Fuchs, Fuchs,  Hamlett,  Phillips,  Karns, & Dutka, 2007).

Peer-tutoring consists of students partnership, linking high achieving students with lower achieving students or those with comparable achievement for structure reading and mathematics study seasons. Peer-tutoring refer to situation where one child provides instructional assistance and guidance to another child (Tan, Cheah & Choug, 2005).

Furthermore, Nathern and Liz (2007) as cited in Ezenwosu, and Loretta (2013) noted that peer tutoring gives teachers the capability to accommodate a classroom with diverse learners to improve academic achievement across ability levels and content areas. According to Vygotsky (1987) as cited in Razia (2012) peers play a special role in children’s development. Although children’s relationship with their parents is more intense and enduring than relations with peers, interactions among age-mates are more free and egalitarian. The greater fluidity of peer relationships offers children the opportunity for a new kind of interpersonal experimentation and exploration.

Schools across the country are adopting and using student centered instruction rather than the conventional teaching method of instruction. This method of teaching has increased student achievement in all subjects of the elementary classroom, as well as the use of mathematics in everyday life (Topping, Campbell, Douglas & Smith, 2003).

Motivation was an additional benefit of using peer assisted learning to promote student learning in the mathematics classroom. Results have also indicated that learners were motivated in achieving their own success in mathematics (McMaster, Fuchs and Fuchs, 2006). Research on peer-assisted learning and its effects on students in mathematics, has proven to be a beneficial way in achieving success (McMaster et al., (2006); Nesselrodt & Alger, (2005); Robinson, (2005); Spencer, (2006).

According to research on same-age and cross-age peer tutoring, significant gains were made in learners of all backgrounds (Cairo & Craig, 2005). Nebo (2012) stated that this conventional method of teaching has failed to recognize the uniqueness of the inquiry base nature of Mathematics and the learner’s individuality thus failed to encourage creative thinking in the learner leading to poor achievement of students. Based on this  educators and scholars are challenged to seek for an intervention or innovative methods that would enhance academic achievement of students in Mathematics some of these methods includes concept mapping, discovering method, co-operative learning, target task approach, peer tutoring e.t.c. (Okoye, 2013).

According to Benjamin 2010 the benefits of peer-tutoring is that a struggling student can benefit greatly from having to prepare and teach the topic that they are studying to a tutor from the same age group as them. The formal lines that exist between a teacher and a student aren’t as defined with someone who is the same age as the person learning, and are therefore easier to cross and find common ground with that said student.

Therefore, students need to be able to master problem-solving skills. One way to achieve this goal is through peer-assisted learning (also known as peer tutoring), which, according to Calhoon (2003), is defined as students working together to teach one another. According to Summers (2006), this style of learning is correlated to social constructivism because students use their own knowledge to assist each other with assignments and class assessments