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Evaluating Vancouver’s Peer Tutoring
Literacy Program

The ACIE Newsletter, November 2006, Vol. 10, No. 1

By Monique Bournot-Trites, Assistant Professor, Department of Language and Literacy Education,
University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia

[Editor’s note: A description of the Peer Tutoring Literacy Program can be found in this issue’s Bridge insert.]

The Peer Tutoring Literacy Program™ has been evaluated with a quantitative study assessing the improvement of peer-tutored readers in reading achievement compared to a control group, and also with a survey study using questionnaires to all stakeholders.


First, a quantitative study with a limited number of students (Bournot-Trites & Lee, 2001; Bournot-Trites, Lee, & Séror, 2003; Chipman, Roy, & Naylor, 2001) has shown that peer tutoring for grade 2 and 3 students in French immersion can be an efficient way to improve the reading achievement of students who have minor reading difficulties. Students with moderate to severe difficulties did not demonstrate any increased reading achievement.
Secondly, questionnaires were distributed to all stakeholders (Grades 2 and 3 tutees, tutors, their parents and teachers as well as adult helpers) in four schools from different provinces across Canada (Bournot-Trites, 2004) that had participated in the program for at least one term, and a fifth school from Vancouver that had participated in the previous study. Table 1 shows the number of respondents by category.

TABLE 1. Number of respondents by category


The questionnaires contained between sixteen and twenty-seven items. Each item was associated with a five point (1 = Strongly Disagree, 2 = Disagree, 3 = Neutral, 4 = Agree, 5 = Strongly Agree) Likert response scale. These questionnaires were developed around some main concepts with several questions for each concept and several parallel questions for each participant type for comparison purposes. After obtaining the results, questions were regrouped by themes, one theme being represented by one to six questions. In the results presented in Table 2, page 10, a high score means that respondents were positive toward the corresponding theme of the program. As can be observed, most of the means are superior to 4, indicating that the participants were very satisfied with the program. The only theme for which the scores are low is the one related with possible difficulties with the program. This demonstrates that participants did not associate many difficulties with the program.


The results of this evaluation suggest that peer tutoring, where parents are part of the program, is a systemic social endeavour that has far-reaching effects in the lives of all participants in the school community. Not only do readers who have minor difficulties read better, but other qualitative benefits arise from such a program for all the individuals who are part of the system. An overall improvement in reading is reported by the learners, their parents and teachers. Ninety two percent of the learners agree or strongly agree that they read better after the peer tutoring program. This is echoed by their parents (94%), by their teachers (100%), and by their tutors (81.6%). The percentages of positive responses about the improvement in reading mechanics, such as decoding, were quite high, 76%, 91%, and 88% respectively for learners, their parents and their teachers. Comprehension was also perceived as being better from 83% of the learners, 83% of their parents and 85% of their teachers. In addition, 89% of the learners and 88% of their parents think that the learners’ concentration while reading has improved, while 100% of their teachers think this is the case.

TABLE 2. Results per themes in the questionnaires

 


Results were outstandingly positive with a high degree of satisfaction from all participants, with many of them adding comments to the effect that they wanted the program to continue at their school. The results show that 91% of the learners, 91% of their parents, 100 % of their teachers, 67% of the tutors and 100% of the adult helpers would like the tutoring program to start up again in their school the following year. The participants reported enhanced learner reading proficiency, as well as improved confidence and a more positive attitude toward reading. Furthermore, the results show that a peer tutoring program in reading may help retain students in French immersion in the early years, and that peer tutoring is also beneficial for the tutors. Finally, classroom teachers were very satisfied with the program.


In summary, this experience was extremely positive for all those involved. One comment from a tutor tells it all: “My reader became much better in her reading and pronouncing the words she had trouble with. I am very proud of her. I think it helped to have someone to talk to if she had trouble. It helped me too, to take responsibility and to help her. I probably got better at my reading too. She did a great job!” m

References
Bournot-Trites, M. (2004). The French-Second-Language Peer Tutoring Programme. In The State of French Second Language Education in Canada 2004, 56-57. Ottawa, Ontario.

Bournot-Trites, M., Lee, E., & Séror, J. (2003). Tutorat par les pairs en lecture: une collaboration parents-école en milieu d’immersion française. La revue des sciences de l’éducation, 29 (1), 195-210

Bournot-Trites, M., & Lee, E. (2001). Implementing and evaluating a school-based peer-tutoring program: Report #2, Evaluating the program. Vancouver: British Columbia Teachers’ Federation.

Chipman, M., & Roy, N. (2005). The Peer Tutoring Literacy Program™ for French immersion schools: A parent-teacher collaborative approach. Canadian Parents for French, 2-3.

Chipman, M., Roy, N., & Naylor, C. (2001). Implementing and evaluating a school-based peer-tutoring program: Report #1, Implementing the program. Vancouver, BC: British Columbia Teachers’ Federation.

 

 

 

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