Exploring the Potential of Peer Tutoring in Developing Student Writing

Literacy & Writing skills, Mentoring

Brief descriptionstmarysproject

This project launched an initiative to train students how to talk to other students about improving their writing. Student tutors were invited to initial training sessions where they were presented with a model for conducting one-to-one tutoring sessions with fellow students.


For writing to achieve critical sophistication it needs to ‘see the light of day’; however, in the case of many students, their writing is read by no-one apart from themselves and their markers. This project was founded on the belief that writing is more fruitfully nurtured in a more social environment: the more students were willing and able to look at each other’s writing, the more that writing would improve.

Project design

Firstly, the team reviewed the range of practices in use in the UK and abroad for bringing students together to review each other’s work. Having decided to adopt a peer tutoring model, they then ran pilot training sessions for the peer tutors in the spring term of 2001. In the second phase of the project was a more complete, fully functional running of peer tutoring for a full year. The final phase consolidated the lessons learnt from the first phases and included the most comprehensive training of peer tutors and the greatest number of students tutored. Dr Susan Dinitz, director of the writing centre from the University of Vermont, reviewed the project.

Learning outcomes

Over the three year period, the project pinpointed the best, most efficient methods of training students to be peer tutors. It also refined the methods for selecting peer tutors, and for convincing both student tutees and lecturers of the benefits of peer tutoring. The project also assessed these benefits experienced both by students who are tutored and by students who are tutoring. A new CETL-funded project, which has grown from the original project, will allow the writing demands of different disciplines to be integrated more closely.


Project Leader

  • Jonathan Worley
  • Matthew Martin

Research period