Tutoring Adolescents in Literacy: A meta-analysis


What does research reveal about tutoring adolescents in literacy? We conducted a meta-analysis, identifying 152 published studies, of which 12 met rigorous inclusion criteria. We analyzed the 12 studies for the effects of tutoring according to the type, focus, and amount of tutoring; the number, age, and language background of students; and the quality of the research. Despite variability, these studies suggest benefits, notably for cross-age tutoring, reading, and small tutoring programs of lengthy duration. PROdIGueR du TuTORAT eN lITTéRATuRe Aux AdOleSceNTS : uNe MéTA-ANAlySe RÉSUMÉ. Qu’est-ce que la recherche nous apprend sur le tutorat en littératie auprès des adolescents? Nous avons mené une méta-analyse, relevant 152 études publiées, parmi lesquelles 12 rencontraient des critères rigoureux d’inclusion. Nous avons donc analysé ces 12 études, examinant les effets du tutorat non seulement selon son type, ses objectifs et sa quantité mais également selon le nombre, l’âge et le profil langagier des élèves. La qualité des travaux de recherche a aussi été prise en considération. Ainsi, malgré une certaine variabilité, ses études suggèrent des bénéfices aux initiatives de tutorat, particulièrement le tutorat inter-âge, les programmes de lecture et les programmes de taille modeste, de longue durée. Among the many forms of mentoring, one-to-one tutoring may be the most longstanding, conventional, and widely practiced supplement to traditional classroom-based education (Fashola, 2001; Shanahan, 1998). Much research has investigated the benefits of tutoring, particularly for reading but also other school subjects, during the initial years of schooling. Numerous reviews and meta-analyses have synthesized the research on tutoring in elementary schools, establishing clearly its effectiveness: most recently, Ritter, Barnett, Denny and Albin (2009) but also D’Agostino and Murphy (2004), Elbaum, Vaughn, Hughes and Moody (2000), Shanahan (1998), Topping and Hill (1995) and Wasik (1998). Seung Won Jun, Gloria Ramirez, & Alister Cumming 220 REVUE DES SCIENCES DE L’ÉDUCATION DE McGILL • VOL. 45 NO 2 PRINTeMPS 2010 As the National Reading Panel (2000) in the U.S. concluded, early intervention is more effective than remediation later in school. So educators have sought ways to identify young students at risk when there is still time to provide them focused, relevant interventions. Tutoring is generally considered among the most powerful forms of intervention, particularly for increasing the reading achievement of students at risk for academic failure (Burns, Senesec, & Symington, 2004; Elbaum et al., 2000; Harmon, Keehn, & Kenney, 2004; Wasik & Slavin, 1993). As Baker, Gerten, and Keating (2000) observed, “even the best instructional environments for first graders in a public school setting, with one expert teacher responsible for teaching 20-30 students, cannot match the educational intensity of a one-to-one interaction (p. 494).” Not even small group instruction is as effective as one-on-one tutoring. Ehri, Dreyer, Flugman, and Gross (2007), for example, showed that one-on-one tutoring, rather than small group instruction, was more effective for teaching reading to struggling readers because tutoring allowed instruction to be tailored to the individual needs of student readers, engaging them in greater, focused reading practice with feedback than was feasible in small groups. Likewise, Juel (1996, pp. 268-282) described the characteristics of tutoring that provide advantages over classroom-based teaching, particularly for literacy: Tutors can engage learners with texts and learning processes for concentrated, lengthy periods of time; focus the attention of young learners; model and scaffold reading and writing processes; and provide immediate, individualized feedback in context and other personalized activities at key moments and repeatedly as may be needed. As this account suggests, tutoring is not a uniform process. Rather, tutoring operates under variable conditions that may be more or less optimal for student learning. For instance, Wasik (1998) and Wasik and Slavin (1993) argued that for literacy tutoring to be effective, (a) tutors need to be supervised by a certified reading specialist, (b) tutors need ongoing training and feedback, (c) tutoring sessions need to be intensive, consistent, structured, and regularly administered, (d) tutors need to use high quality materials, (e) the assessment of tutees needs to be ongoing, and (f) tutoring needs to be coordinated with classroom instruction. Given the extensive inquiry, positive results, and practical knowledge about tutoring literacy for young learners, it seems surprising that only a limited amount of inquiry has systematically evaluated tutoring for adolescents, and only in recent years. Indeed, as numerous books and reviews have observed, it is only in the past decade that a significant body of research has emerged on literacy development and instruction among adolescent students (Franzak, 2006; Hull & Schultz, 2001; Moje & O’Brien, 2001; Rush, Eakle & Berger, 2007; Schultz & Fecho, 2005). Among this inquiry, claims have started to appear about the benefits of tutoring at-risk adolescent students in literacy in respect

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@inproceedings{JunTutoringAI, title={Tutoring Adolescents in Literacy: A meta-analysis}, author={Seung Won Jun and Gloria J. S. Ramirez and Alister Cumming and G R Thompson} }