The Cognitive Benefits of Learning by Tutoring
A central question in educational theory is how students best encode material for long-term recall. We explored cognitive gains for students engaged in an actual tutoring task. Subjects (N=88) were randomly assigned to Learning conditions (Non-tutoring, Tutoring) and asked to read two passages followed by Post-test 1. Non-tutoring subjects were asked to review the passages while Tutoring subjects were asked to tutor the material to another student and then all took Post-test 2. We predicted that (i) Tutoring subjects would score higher than Non-Tutoring subjects on both general and specific material ...view middle of the document...
Extensive literature suggests that tutoring has many social and cognitive benefits for both tutors and tutees (Dangwal and Kapoor, 2009; Dineen et al., 1977; B.Goldschmid and M.Goldschmid, 1976). Some of these benefits are in the form of positive social attitudes toward peers, better understanding of subject material and overall learning gains. According to Katona (1940), the act of instructing helps the tutor build a more organized cognitive structure and facilitates an understanding of the relationship between facts (as cited in Bargh & Schul, 1980). Further, Roscoe and Chi (535) defined these positive outcomes as the "Tutor Learning effect" which refers to learning gains experienced by tutors as a result of tutoring.
Cohen, C. Kulik and J. Kulik (1982), in their meta-analyses of sixty-five independent school-tutoring programs, found that both tutors and tutees experienced academic and social gains through peer-tutor programs. Saunders (1992) found that peer learning, the process where students learn from and with each other in both formal and informal ways, provided a unique learning experience that was qualitatively different from the usual teacher-student interactions and offered mutual benefits for both the tutor and the tutee (as cited in Anderson & Boud, 1996). Specifically, majority of the senior students involved in proctoring or mentoring junior students experienced positive social attitudes towards them.
A study by Benware and Deci (1984) explored the role of intrinsic motivation and conceptual learning by comparing students with Active and Passive orientations while learning new material. They found that subjects who learned material in order to teach (Active orientation) another student expressed more intrinsic motivation, conceptual understanding and active engagement in the learning environment than subjects who learned the material in order to be tested on it (Passive orientation).
Bargh and Schul (1980) explored the benefits of peer-tutoring programs for tutors and the resulting cognitive gains in the form of Content-specific gains and Generalized-knowledge gains. They defined Content-specific gains as positive outcomes that resulted from an increase in the organization and/or elaboration of the specific subject matter that was taught thus causing the representation of that subject matter to become stronger and more accessible in memory. They further defined Generalized-knowledge gains as gains that resulted from the development of a more general knowledge structure that also facilitated the learning of related material. In their first experiment, Bargh and Schul (1980) explored Content-specific gains by having subjects in the experimental group learn verbal material in order to "prepare to teach someone" (they did not actually teach) while the control group simply learned material to be tested on it. The second experiment explored Generalized- knowledge gains by including problem-solving and verbal tasks in the...