Abstract: When in doubt, asking a peer can be very helpful. Students learn a lot of social strategies from peers. However, stated preference studies have found that for elementary school students with math questions, they prefer to ask their teacher for help. In this paper, we study revealed preferences instead of stated preferences. We analyzed the behavior of fourth-grade students seeking face-to-face assistance while working on an online math platform. Students started by working independently on the platform, before the teacher selected two or three tutors from among those who have answered 10 questions correctly. Each student was then able to choose between the teacher or one of these tutors when requesting assistance. We studied the students’ preferences over 3 years, involving 88 fourth-grade classes, 2700 students, 1209 sessions with classmate tutors, and a total of 16,485 requests for help when there was an option to choose between a teacher or a classmate. We found that students prefer asking classmates for help three times more than asking their teachers when given the choice. Furthermore, this gap increases from the first to the second semester. We also found that students prefer to request help from classmates of the same sex and of higher academic performance. In this context, students from the two highest tertiles sought help from classmates in the same two tertiles, and students from the medium tertile prefer to seek help from students of the highest tertile. However, students in the two lowest tertiles do not prefer asking for help from students from the top tertile more than from their own tertiles.
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