The Effectiveness of Volunteer Tutoring Programs for Elementary and Middle School Students: A Meta-Analysis

Mar. 19, 2009

Source: Review of Educational Research, Volume 79, Issue 1, pg. 3-38. (March 2009)

This meta-analysis assesses the effectiveness of volunteer tutoring programs for improving the academic skills of students enrolled in public schools Grades K-8 in the United States. It also further investigates for whom and under what conditions tutoring can be effective.

Research Questions

Specifically, the authors ask, Is there good evidence to encourage policy akers and school leaders to continue to pursue volunteer tutoring as a possible strategy for improving the academic skills of young students? How do differences in participants (e.g., age, gender) affect the effectiveness of the programs? And how do differences in tutoring programs (e.g., program structure, program focus, types of tutors) affect the results?
For this review, volunteer tutoring is defined as academically focused instruction delivered by nonprofessionally trained adults, which does include college students but not teachers.

The authors found 21 studies (with 28 different study cohorts in those studies) reporting on randomized field trials to guide them in assessing  the effectiveness of volunteer tutoring programs. Overall, the authors found volunteer tutoring has a positive effect on student achievement. With respect to particular subskills, students who work with volunteer tutors are likely to earn higher scores on assessments related to letters and words, oral fluency, and writing as compared to their peers who are not tutored.

Updated: May. 18, 2009