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Peer Tutoring at Reed College

In addition to a tradition of spontaneous and informal peer tutoring, students work in many different capacities to help teach other students at Reed. The college has a strong one-on-one tutoring program, where students can receive help, free of charge, from qualified upperclassmen who have been nominated by the faculty in their major department. In the 1998-99 school year, 193 students were tutored by 65 individual subject tutors for a total of 500 hours. Reed also operates a drop-in writing center staffed by nominated upperclassmen who have been trained to aid other students with every stage of the writing process. The math and science departments provide additional types of peer tutoring. The drop-in science (physics, biology, and chemistry) and math centers offer help to students on homework and problem sets, analysis of lab data, preparation of lab reports, clarification of concepts, and on questions regarding course material. In addition, science students serve as lab assistants and grade problem sets in some courses.

Research ChickensIn 1999, Reed expanded the opportunities available for peer tutoring in its science departments by means of a National Science Foundation Award for the Integration of Research and Education (NSF-AIRE). This award was used to develop an Undergraduate Research Mentor program, using experienced students as peer mentors to help develop the empirical research skills of students who are newer to the sciences. The peer mentors work closely with students who are conducting independent research projects in introductory, intermediate, or advanced science courses. These student mentors are selected juniors or seniors in the department who have demonstrated proficiency in the course in which they are assisting and have participated in a paid three month summer training program in order to build mentoring skills. In addition, the summer training emphasizes collaboration with a faculty member on an ongoing research project (in order to develop research skills and experience), and includes working with faculty in course planning and strengthening skills in appropriate areas (e.g., computer programming and statistics).

For students in the classroom, the Undergraduate Research Mentor program serves as a supplement to their usual interactions with faculty members by extending opportunities for individual attention, development of research skills, and active participation in research projects with the help of their peer mentors. Although these goals are the same for all of the science departments, each department is implementing the Undergraduate Research Mentoring program in a different way, according to its needs.

History of Peer Tutoring in the United States
Varieties of Peer Tutoring
Current Research: Is Peer Tutoring Effective?
Examples of Successful Programs
Peer Tutoring at Reed College
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