The Connection Between Peer Collaboration and Happiness

Peer tutoring is a great way to provide additional support to students. From the administrative side, it also helps expand teacher bandwith. Plus, it is an opportunity to receive one on one attention. This is instrumental for increasing student attention and boosting their confidence. All the while, it encourages students’ camaraderie in addition to providing academic support.  So what about happiness?


Background on Peer Tutoring

Peer learning can be studied since the time of Aristotle. One of the earliest formal records of a peer tutoring program being launched occurred in 1753. It was then that Superintendent Andrew Bell paired younger student tutees with older student tutors and noticed an increase in academic achievement and self-confidence for both the tutees and tutors. From here, the concept of peer tutoring began to grow. It became more widely accepted as a tool schools could foster to promote academic achievement. 


The Stats

With so much history, it provides an opportunity to look at the numbers. The research shows some of the greatest impact of a peer tutoring program is often in the subjects of math and science. For example, one study showed that more than 70% of students experience an increase in math scores when supplementing their learning with peer tutoring. Yet, the effects can also be seen in other subject areas as well. Students tutored by peers consistently for at least 8 weeks, increased their reading comprehension at 4.4 times the normal rate. These stats also indicated that it is not just about duration, but the need for consistency. Just showing up and reviewing a few key concepts once a week can demonstrate some improvement in academic scores and achievement.


The Happiness Factor

However, we know that life is more than just numbers. A study was conducted at a middle school in Spain using a group of 420 students. It concluded that anxiety can be greatly reduced by having a peer tutoring program in place. This seemed to be true regardless of gender or grade. Even in circumstances where a student did not benefit from an increase in their academic score, they had a positive outlook on the program due to having the opportunity to create new relationships. 

From the tutees perspective, they tend to have a positive opinion about peer tutoring due to a tutors’ rapid responsiveness, helpfulness, and individual attention. The collaborative student culture helps increase their confidence as well as feelings of social acceptance among their classmates.  On the side of the tutor, they find satisfaction in helping others, become more confident in the material they are teaching, and also enjoy making connections with their peers. 

Lastly, a Harvard study on happiness known as the Grant Study conducted by George Vaillant, is a great resource showing the importance of building relationships. It is one of the world’s longest studies, consisting of more than 70 years of research. The study points to the correlation between living long happy and healthy lives is due to fostering positive connections. It is more than IQ, money, or fame. A peer tutoring program is a great way to promote this, especially in the primary and secondary years. 

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