A Little History about Peer Tutoring

How did peer tutoring originate? Where did this idea come from? Bruffee writes in his article that in the 1970's many students were not succeeding in their college classroom environments, and were refusing help from campus tutors and counselors because that help simply meant extra work for them. "What they [college students in the `70's] needed, it seemed, was help that was not an extension of but an alternative to traditional classroom teaching. To provide that alternative some colleges turned to peer tutoring" (Bruffee, 86). The idea of peer tutoring developed because of students' need for aid in schoolwork, but reluctance to go to faculty for help.

Students feel comfortable going to other students for help, especially within the context of the writing center. The University of Michigan's writing center states part of the reason for the existence of their peer tutoring program is that "students often feel more comfortable talking about their writing with peers, many prefer tutors rather than faculty" (Monroe and Rickly). This idea was confirmed in responses to my e-survey, which showed that students tutoring other students increases the comfort of the student writers. A sophomore at Rutgers University wrote that he found his writing tutors helpful because "they were also students so they still related to me and my work," (Bob Holmes, Engineering major) as opposed to a professor who can be detached from the student. Another sophomore and Geology major at Colgate University likes going to the writing center because of the anonymity of the tutor, which prevents her from feeling anxiety about having another person read her paper.

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