Special Offer

Effectiveness of tutoring

Tutoring, whether provided as supplemental or remedial instruction for low-achieving students or for enrichment or competitive advantage to high-achieving students, is generally perceived as a valuable investment benefitting students; however, the quality of tutoring services is notoriously difficult to assess. Tutors differ with respect to their qualifications, training, age, and even motivations for tutoring. There is no guarantee that private, independent tutors can or will offer quality tutoring, as the most common characteristic of tutors is that they are older than the students they are tutoring. Tutoring companies, although they likely employ qualified and trained tutors, differ in the quality of instruction they provide and their orientation toward learning and education. A common criticism of many tutoring companies is that they teach rote learning rather than comprehension of principles.

Nonetheless, there is evidence that tutoring can be effective. For example, findings from a meta-analysis of studies on the effectiveness of tutoring showed that tutored students showed higher academic achievement than non-tutored (control) students, as measured on examinations. In another study of students at risk for academic failure, peer tutoring (in combination with parental involvement) was found to be effective in helping students make gains in classroom-based and standardized mathematical achievement tests. The tutored students obtained higher scores than the (control group) students who were asked to practice their math lessons on their own.

Although the demand for tutors is typically in the area of mathematics—and some studies have shown that larger gains result from tutoring in mathematics than in other subjects such as reading —tutoring can also be an effective supplemental instructional strategy for reading. A recent study revealed large improvements in sight-word acquisition, and smaller gains in reading fluency and comprehension, among students identified as being at risk for reading failure and who participated in a peer tutoring intervention.

In addition to improving academic outcomes, some evidence suggests that tutoring positively affects students' self-confidence. Tutored students develop positive attitudes toward the subject in which they are tutored, particularly in a subject like mathematics where negative attitudes have been observed to be common. One-on-one tutoring, in particular, can help students overcome the anxiety often encountered in classrooms where rewards are based on performance. By contrast, the reward for tutored students is usually the learning process itself, and success is based on effort and practice. Similar gains in self-confidence are made by at-risk students, who also show improvements in classroom behaviour and self-control.

Canadian Concil of Lerning