Does Tutoring work?

Tutoring works, BUT only if it is done correctly! Obvious isn’t it?

So what is the ‘correct’ way of Tutoring according to research studies?
Shilpa Guggali, B.Com, Educator

I was reading this publication on Tutoring by the U.S. Department of Education which studied the results of many research studies and came up with some good suggestions on how to make a tutoring program effective. This publication looked at tutoring for Reading skills but I believe that it holds true for tutoring of all skills and subjects such as math tutoring or English tutoring. A British tutoring program involving 2,372 elementary and junior high students who were tutored by trained parents and peers for an average of 8.6 weeks improved their reading comprehension 4.4 times the normal rate and word recognition 3.3 times the normal rate.(1) This shows that it is very essential to be consistent and have patience for at least 2-3 months and even longer if tutoring is being done only 2-3 times a week. An after-school tutoring program in which low-achieving second- and third-graders were tutored for one hour twice each week by university students, retirees, and suburban mothers also generated strong improvements in the tutees’ reading skills.(2) In the absence of such resources, I would recommend using a professional Tutoring program that incorporates the good practices described below.

What Research Says About High-Quality Tutoring Implementation

Researchers who have examined multiple tutoring programs found a few factors that influence the effectiveness of a Tutoring program.

Some of the factors were –

  • coordinating the Tutoring activity with what the child is doing in school
  • proper training for the tutors to confidently implement the good tutoring practices
  • well structured tutoring sessions; most successful tutors often have well-rehearsed scripts for responding to student errors; this was especially found to be effective in math tutoring
  • careful monitoring and reinforcement of progress; positive communication between Tutor and student increased the effectiveness of the tutoring activity
  • frequent and regular tutoring sessions of up to 60 minutes; longer sessions may not necessarily improve outcomes; more sessions a week result in greater gains with an optimum of 2-3 times a week.

In conclusion, I would recommend all parents to make use of all resources that you have at hand, starting from yourself, spending time with the children. Other older family members or friends and relatives including older children are an excellent resource, even if it is for a short time. In our present day busy lifestyle, I can understand that it is not always possible to devote the amount of time as suggested and one may not have all the necessary skills to tutor. In such situations, I feel that parents should use the pointers given above to choose a good professional Tutoring program for your kids, sooner than later.\r\n\r\nBest wishes for success!

References :

  1. [Topping, K., & Whitley, M. (1990). Participant evaluation of parent-tutored and peer-tutored projects in reading. Educational Research, 32(1), 14-32.]
  2. [Morris, D., Shaw, B., & Perney, J. (1990, November). Helping low readers in Grades 2 and 3: An after-school volunteer tutoring program. Elementary School Journal, 91, 133-150].