Value of peer groups

March 22, 1996

We should not mourn the passing of the "Educating Rita"-style personal tutorial (THES, March 15). The so-called "modification" of this system into a group-based system of tutoring reflects differences in pedagogical practice and educational philosophy, not simply a negative response to pressure.

Students need a collaborative and supportive learning environment not one-to-one sessions with academic virtuosos. Those of us who have long been using small group-based personal tutoring systems know that it is often peers who provide the most valued contact for our students. The danger in talk of the demise of personal tutoring is that long established alternative systems of student support will be undervalued and consequently underfunded because they are viewed as falling short of ideals to which they never aspired.

DOUG STUART

School of social sciences University of Greenwich

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