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Peer Tutoring in Strength & Conditioning

John McMahon November 4, 2012

Peer feedback has been defined by Lui and Carless (2006) as “a communication process through which learners enter into dialogues related to performance and standards”. A peer feedback approach to strength and conditioning practical sessions was proven to be very successful in enhancing undergraduate sports science students’ performance during their practical assessment, which mainly consisted of coaching and performing the “clean” exercise (Comfort, 2011).

More specifically, the results of Comfort (2011) showed that a group of 2nd year sports science students, who received ‘optional’ peer tutored practical sessions from 3rd year students, achieved significantly higher grades for their end of semester practical assessment compared to a group of students from the same cohort who did not attend these sessions (75.00 ± 10.58% vs. 51.81 ± 18.49%, p = 0.003). The practical assessment results achieved by the students who attended the peer tutored sessions were also significantly greater than the results attained by 2nd year students from the previous cohort, who did not have the option to participate in peer tutored sessions (75.00 ± 10.58% vs. 59.48 ± 19.21%, p = 0.014).

In a follow up study, Comfort and McMahon (In-Press) found that peer tutoring also had a positive effect on the tutors’ performance during their practical assessment, which mainly consisted of coaching and performing the “snatch” exercise, compared to the students who did not act as peer tutors (82.00 + 11.01% vs. 64.88 + 8.82%, p<0.001). Furthermore, students who attended the optional peer tutored sessions once again achieved higher grades than those students who did attend these sessions.

In addition to the results presented above, previous research also found peer tutoring to be an extremely effective process for improving both tutor and tutee academic accomplishments and practical skill development (Topping, 1996; Topping et al., 1997; Houston and Lazenbatt, 1999; Johnson and Ward, 2001; Saunders, 2002; Sobral, 2002; Maynard and Almarzouqi., 2006). The aforementioned benefits of peer tutoring have been particularly prevalent in both Physical Education (Ward and Lee 2005) and sports coaching (D’Arripe-Longueville et al., 2002) settings, which, like practical strength and conditioning sessions, requires students to learn a range of complex practical skills within a relatively short period of time.

Based on the results presented above, peer tutoring should be regarded as a great method for facilitating learning in a strength and conditioning environment, particularly when used to facilitate students’ learning of practical skills. Therefore, it is recommended that peer tutoring is utilised during strength and conditioning practical sessions, especially those relating to the instruction of exercise, on undergraduate sports science/related programmes. Finally, enhanced practical skills are likely to improve employability of graduates from such areas of study and may also lead to a more financially efficient method of delivering highly practical modules to large groups of students.


Comfort, P. (2011). The effect of peer tutoring on academic achievement during practical assessments in applied sports science students. Innovations in Education and Teaching International, 48(2), 207-211.

Comfort, P. and McMahon, J. (2012). The effects of peer tutoring on academic achievement. Journal of Applied Research in Higher Education, In-Press.

D’Arripe-Longueville, F., Gernigon, C., Huet, M., Cadopi. M. and Winnykamen, F. (2002). Peer tutoring in a physical education setting: Influence of tutor skill level on novice learners motivation and performance. Journal of Teaching in Physical Education. 22, 105-123.

Houston, S.K. and Lazenbatt, A. (1999). Peer tutoring in a modelling course. Innovations in Education and Teaching International. 36(1), 71-79.

Johnson, M. and Ward, P. (2001). Effects of classwide peer tutoring on correct performance of striking skills in 3rd Grade Physical Education. Journal of Teaching in Physical Education. 20, 247-263.

Lui, N.F. and Carless, D.R. (2006). Peer feedback: the learning element of peer assessment. Teaching in Higher Education, 11(3), 279-290.

Maynard, J. and Almarzouqi, I. (2006). Investigating peer tutoring. ELT Journal. 60(1), 13-22.

Saunders, D. (2002). Peer tutoring in higher education. Studies in Higher Education. 17(2), 211-218.

Sobral, D.T. (2002). Cross-year peer tutoring experience in medical school: conditions and outcomes for student tutors. Medical Education. 35, 1064-1070.

Topping, K.J. (1996). The effectiveness of peer tutoring in further and higher education: a typology and review of the literature. Higher Education. 32, 321-345.

Topping, K., Hill, S., McKaig, A., Rogers, C., Rushi, N. and Young, D. (1997). Paired reciprocal peer tutoring in undergraduate economics. Innovations in Education and Teaching International. 34(2), 96-113.

Ward, P. and Lee, M. (2005). Peer-assisted learning in physical education: A review of theory and research. Journal of Teaching in Physical Education. 24, 205-225.

Peer Tutoring in Strength & Conditioning, 5.0 out of 5 based on 3 ratings

Comments (2)

  1. Peer tutoring helps students feel more comfortable in seeking outside help in academic subjects because it doesn’t have the same stigma of a traditional student/teacher relationship. As the peer tutor and the student are similar in age, it can make the tutoring relationship feel more like a study partnership. This helps reduce anxiety over difficult subjects and benefits both the tutor and the tutee.

  2. Thanks for your great comment. In my experience, students seem to respond extremely well to peer-tutored sessions due to most of the reasons that you have stated in your comment above.

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