Tutor learning: The role of explaining and responding to questions

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

236 Scopus citations


Previous research on peer tutoring has found that students sometimes benefit academically from tutoring other students. In this study we combined quantitative and qualitative analyses to explore how untrained peer tutors learned via explaining and responding to tutee questions in a non-reciprocal tutoring setting. In support of our hypotheses, we found that tutors learned most effectively when their instructional activities incorporated reflective knowledge-building in which they monitored their own understanding, generated inferences to repair misunderstandings, and elaborated upon the source materials. However, tutors seemed to adopt a knowledge-telling bias in which they primarily summarized the source materials with little elaboration. Tutors' reflective knowledge-building activities, when they occurred, were more frequently elicited by interactions with their tutee. In particular, when tutees asked questions that contained an inference or required an inferential answer, tutors' responses were more likely to be elaborative and metacognitive. Directions for future research are also discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)321-350
Number of pages30
JournalInstructional Science
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Explanations
  • Metacognition
  • Peer tutoring
  • Questions
  • Tutor learning
  • Tutorial dialogue
  • Verbal data analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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