Jiva Technology

Tutoring: does it work?

In the competitive world of education, school selection and exams, it’s an article of faith for many parents, tutors and students that tutoring, in conjunction with normal classroom attendance and homework, actually improves educational performance.

Intuitively, you’d assume that one-to-one support from someone who has a good grasp of a subject must help. It’s obvious, isn’t it? People wouldn’t keep paying if it wasn’t delivering results, so you could say that the continued existence and growth of the tutoring industry is a vote of confidence in it’s effectiveness. But up until now, I’d never really thought to ask if anyone had independently tested to see if this was true.

It turns out they have. A number of academic studies have been carried out to gauge how effective tutoring is in improving educational performance, including Bloom (1984, Educational Researcher), Evens & Michael (2006, Erlbaum) and Chi et al (2001, Cognitive Science). The fact that they’ve been published in reputable, peer reviewed academic journals, should give us a fair degree of confidence in the results. They’re certainly not ‘marketing studies’ sponsored by tutoring agencies. These studies compared groups of students who received human tutoring with students who received no tutoring at all and then measured the results. The studies consistently showed that tutoring improved performance and whilst we have to be extremely careful about translating statistical results into real life examples, the studies suggest that in a group of 100 students, tutoring would make the difference between finishing 50th in the class (no tutoring) and 21st in the class (with tutoring).

So in answer to our question, not only can we say, “yes tutoring works”, but by how much. That works for me.





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