A mixed methods study of cross-age math tutoring using middle school students working with low math achieving kindergarten and first grade students



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To combat the problem of low achieving math students, the researcher implemented math and memory skill cross-age tutoring approach using middle school tutors to work with kindergarten and first grade students with low math skills to provide an instructional intervention aimed at improving these students’ math skills and attitude towards math. Current research shows promising use of cross-age tutors, but there is a paucity of other research in this area focusing on math and hardly any using mixed methods to study both the quantitative and qualitative aspects of such an approach. To implement the study, nine homeschooled middle school students volunteered one afternoon for ten weeks working with the fifteen kindergarten and first grade students in either a one-on-one format or a small group of two or three students to one tutor format. All the students were tested for their math skill levels before and after the study to determine skill improvement. All the students’ math teachers were interviewed concerning their attitude towards math and performance in the classroom. The structured math tutoring intervention using middle school tutors demonstrated a statistically significant effect of a large size, but whether the kindergarten and first grade students were tutored one-on-one or in a small group did not show a significant difference. Additionally, most of the teachers of the tutees reported measurable math gains with several teachers noting improved attitude towards math work. All the teachers of the tutors said they would recommend the cross-age tutoring experience as they thought the middle school students showed either increased leadership skills, improved confidence towards math, or found helping others a positive, enjoyable experience.



Cross-age tutoring, Math, Memory skills, Kindergarten, First grade, Middle school, Homeschool, Low-achieving, Socio-emotional