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  • Writer's pictureAlaina

The Magic of Tutoring: Unlocking Student Success

So, what's the big deal about tutoring? As educators, people often ask why we choose to teach in this way, especially since many of us once taught in schools in classroom settings. It is simply because as trained tutors, when we help students learn, magic happens.



Yes, you read that correctly; tutoring is magic. It may very well be the key effective educational solution in today's ever-changing world. An article published by the Brookings Institution highlights how tutoring can help students get back on track, especially from the educational challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. 


In fact, the article notes that "tutoring ranks among the most widespread, versatile, and potentially transformative instruments within today’s educational toolkit." That's an incredible feat! To back that claim, of the 96 studies examined in this article, over 80% found significant positive effects of tutoring. As demonstrated over such a wide range of studies, not only is tutoring effective, but it is consistent. That is, the studies’ findings consistently suggest that tutoring is not just a one-off success in isolated cases but rather a reliable tool. No wonder there is a growing interest in tutoring as a national solution to combat the learning effects of the pandemic. 


Okay, so tutoring works and works extremely well, but for those who like to know there’s a robust evidence base behind interventions, let's zoom in on the research behind this. 


Meta-analytic studies show that trained tutoring and student-centered approaches are the most effective forms of tutoring. In an excerpt from The Revitalized Tutoring Center: A Guide to Transforming School Culture, Jeremy Koselack, a former tutoring director, breaks down complex research from award-winning researcher John Hattie, uncovering the power of trained tutoring and student-centered approaches. It's all about learners - of all ages - supporting each other, sharing their knowledge, and learning together. Placing students at the center of the learning process boosts their self-efficacy; they believe they can learn and have the ability to grow.


Moreover, research conducted by Swanson and Hoskyn reveals that direct instruction and strategy instruction across all academic domains were the most effective approaches, with respective mean score sizes of 0.91 and 1.07. Direct instruction involves dynamic, well-organized lessons conducted by trained tutors in small groups, fostering active student participation and immediate feedback. Meanwhile, strategy instruction encompasses detailed explanations and demonstrations, step-by-step guidance, open dialogue between trained tutors and students, and the honest support trained tutors provide. Certainly, a combination of these two strategies can create a powerful blend that maximizes student learning outcomes. 


Trained tutoring isn't just about boosting grades, though; it’s also about building a sense of community and support. Research by Derry and Murphy highlights the importance of recognizing students’ varying skill levels and the demand for fostering supportive environments. When students feel like they belong and have access to supportive guidance, they flourish, which is when academic challenges are overcome. Many trained tutors uniquely empathize with their students' struggles, having navigated similar challenges themselves - whether they’re the same in age or a bit older. It is simply invaluable to connect with somebody who so intimately understands their experiences. 


This trusting relationship that blossoms between trained tutors and students truly sets tutoring apart. In these relationships, students feel safe asking questions, making mistakes, and expressing their uncertainties without fear of judgment. When there’s trust, there’s a foundation for effective communication and collaboration, essential elements for successful learning experiences.


And if you weren’t already convinced of trusting the tutoring mojo, you only have to look at the evidence base behind these claims. For instance, John Hattie's findings aren’t based on just a handful of studies; he dug deep into a whopping 800 studies, covering 50,000 research articles and influencing the education of 240 million students worldwide. That's not just a number; it's a testament to how powerful tutoring really is. 


So, the next time someone wonders why tutoring has become so prevalent, you can confidently respond: it’s the magic. The magic of people, one-on-one, helping each other learn, grow, and understand how to keep succeeding, long after the hour-long session is finished. And, in a world where education is the key to unlocking opportunities, this magic is more important than ever. 


  • Alaina Napoli & the Ed Therapy Team

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