Activities and Prosocial Behaviour in Vertical Tutor Groups
Graham Michael Best's doctoral thesis

From 2010-2011, Graham Best researched the use of activities in vertical tutor groups and their effect on prosocial behaviour. After visiting several schools and talking to many students and staff, he focused on conducting a mixed-method qualitative case study of the activities and prosocial behaviour in two vertical tutor groups at a challenging comprehensive school near London. He used a series of focused observations, interviews with students and tutors, and a focus group of students, to collect data. He went on to use Bar-Tal and Raviv’s six phase model of the cognitive development of helping behaviour, and the five techniques they identify for promoting it, as a framework for exploring the possible relationship between the structured activities students do in tutor time and any prosocial acts they performed.

Best found that the most significant activities in the development of students’ willingness and capacity to behave prosocially seemed to be the ones which familiarised the students with each other and created a bond between them. This led to his contribution of a sixth technique for promoting the cognitive development of prosocial behaviour, in addition to the five already identified by Bar-Tal and Raviv. He also contributed a refinement to their six phase model, recommending the subdivision of the fifth phase into two levels dependent on the degree to which an individual generalises their perception of a general social contract of reciprocity.

The full text of Dr Best's thesis is available at the Institute of Education library, in London, or on request from