You are here:

Telecommunications and intergenerational learning: A test of senior tutoring of fifth graders DISSERTATION

, Teachers College, Columbia University, United States

Teachers College, Columbia University . Awarded


The Westbury Public Schools are in a state of fluctuation! After winning three prestigious awards for excellence in the latter part of the 1980's, some of its schools have now become problematic. This study assessed the viability of Westbury's senior citizens being utilized as a primary resource of its elementary schools for supplementing classroom activities, by facilitating student use of Internet resources to enhance student research and writing skills.

This was a collaboration between the Westbury Public Schools and Senior Citizens of Westbury. Sixty-four fifth graders were randomly selected from the four average academic ability fifth grade classes at Powells Lane Elementary School; and, ten senior citizens were recruited from the Adult Cultural and Educational Studies (ACES) program at the Senior Citizens of Westbury Center to serve as tutors.

The teachers of the four classes carried out a common unit of study, using identical lesson plans. As a culminating activity, students researched a related theme; then, wrote reports on their chosen topics. Each class was divided into an experimental and a control group; then, the Unit was taught to the entire class, over a 7-week period--three sessions per week. The students in the experimental group received an additional two sessions per week of instructions from the senior tutors, over a period of six weeks. The focus of the tutoring was preparing the research report, using Internet resources.

Student learning was measured by evaluating the students' mastery of eight research and writing skills, as reflected in the research reports. The instrument for scoring these skills evolved from the criteria established for the rating of the Writing Test for New York State Elementary Schools.

The results showed significantly higher performance by the tutored group on seven of the eight measures--effectiveness of presentation, development of ideas, organization, sentence structure, mechanics, presentation of a full picture, and completeness. It offers evidence that senior citizens can be a valuable resource to the classroom teacher in enhancing student performance. Although these findings are not generalizable, they represent some interesting insights and directions for further study.


Lewis, A.M. Telecommunications and intergenerational learning: A test of senior tutoring of fifth graders. Ph.D. thesis, Teachers College, Columbia University. Retrieved June 20, 2018 from .

This record was imported from ProQuest on October 23, 2013. [Original Record]

Citation reproduced with permission of ProQuest LLC.

For copies of dissertations and theses: (800) 521-0600/(734) 761-4700 or