A tutor is a person who provides assistance or tutelage to one or more people on certain subject areas or skills. The tutor spends a few hours on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis to transfer his/her expertise on the topic or skill to the student. Tutoring can take place in different settings, such as a classroom, a formal tutoring center, or the home of the tutor/learner. As a teaching-learning method, tutoring is characterized by how it differs from formal teaching methods on the basis of the (in)formality of the setting as well as the flexibility in pedagogical methods in terms of duration, pace of teaching, evaluation and tutor-tutee rapport.
Tutoring began as an informal and unstructured method of educational assistance, dating back to periods in Ancient Greece. Tutors operated on an ad-hoc or impromptu basis in varied and unfixed settings wherein the main goal of the tutor was to impart knowledge to the learner in order to help the latter gain proficiency in the subject area. Methods of tutoring only began to become more structured after the 20th century through focus and specialisation in the training of tutors, application of tutoring, and evaluation of tutors. From the 20th century onwards, with the rapid spread of mainstream education, the demand for tutoring has also increased as a way to supplement formal education.
Types of tutoring
There can be an existing overlap between different types of tutoring with respect to the setting or location of tutoring, the size of tutor-learner pairings/groups, and the method of tutoring provided, for example, one-on-one peer tutoring can take place through online tutoring. Tutoring is typically private since it is exists independent of the system of public and private education, that is, one can be enrolled in public/private schooling and attend private tutoring services.
Academic coaching is a type of mentoring applied to academics. Coaching involves a collaborative approach. Coaches try to help students learn how they best learn and how to operate in an academic environment. Tutors help students learn the material in individual courses while coaches help students learn how to be successful in school. In college, that includes such topics as: study skills, time management, stress management, effective reading, note-taking, test-taking, and understanding how to use a syllabus. Academic coaches meet with the student regularly throughout the semester. Coaches work with students in all kinds of situations, not just those who are struggling academically. Academic coaching is also serves to help students prepare for entrance exams to gain entry to schools or universities, and it is a particularly popular in Asia. For example, in India, a majority of students, be it of any class or stream, visit a coaching center or a "study circle."
In-home tutoring is a form of tutoring that occurs in the home. Most often the tutoring relates to an academic subject or test preparation. This is in contrast to tutoring centers or tutoring provided through after-school programs. The service most often involves one-on-one attention provided to the pupil. Due to the informal and private nature of in-home tutoring, there is limited substantial or conclusive information on in-home tutoring.
Online tutoring is another way for a student to receive academic help, either scheduled or on-demand. Sessions are done through an application where a student and tutor can communicate. Common tools include chat, whiteboard, web conferencing, teleconferencing, online videos and other specialized applets which make it easier to convey information back and forth. Online tutoring has relatively recently emerged as a mechanism to provide tutoring services in contrast to more traditional in-person teaching. One of the potential drawbacks of online tutoring stems from the influx or sensory overload of information from different materials. "For example, mate- rial presented in multiple modalities run the risk of interrupting the learner from a coherent learn- ing experience, of imposing a “split attention” effect (the mind cannot concentrate on two things simultaneously), or of overloading the learner’s limited supply of cognitive resources."
Peer tutoring refers to the method of tutoring that involves members of the same peer group teaching or tutoring one another. The characteristics of a peer tutoring group/pairing vary across age, socioeconomic class, gender, ethnicity. It has been defined as "a class of practices and strategies that employs peers as one-on-one teachers to provide individualized instruction, practice, repetition, and clarification of concepts"
Studies have found that peer tutoring provides academic benefits for learners across the subject areas of "reading, mathematics, science, and social studies" Peer tutoring has also been found to be an effective teaching method in enhancing the reading comprehension skills of students, especially that of students with a low academic performance at the secondary level in schools. Additionally, peer tutoring has been proven especially useful for those with learning disabilities at the elementary level, while there is mixed evidence showing the effectiveness of peer tutoring for those at the secondary level.
Although certain types of tutoring arrangements can require a salary for the tutor, typically tutoring is free of cost and thus financially affordable for learners. The cost-effectiveness of tutoring can prove to be especially beneficial for learners from low-income backgrounds or resource-strapped regions. In contrast, paid tutoring arrangements can create or further highlight socioeconomic disparities between low-income, middle-income and high-income populations. A study found that access to private tutoring was less financially affordable for low-income families, who thus benefited less from private tutoring as compared to high-income populations, who had the resources to profit from private tutoring.
Tutoring as "Shadow Education"
Tutoring has also emerged as a supplement to public and private schooling in many countries. The supplementary nature of tutoring is a feature in the domain of what some scholars have termed "shadow education". Shadow education has been defined as "a set of educational activities that occur out side formal schooling and are designed to enhance the student's formal school career." The term "shadow" has four components to it: firstly, the existence of and need for tutoring is produced by the existence of the formal education system; secondly, the formal education system is the mainstream system and thus tutoring is its shadow; thirdly, the focus remains on mainstream education in schools; fourthly, tutoring is largely informal and unstructured as compared to formal or mainstream education. As a consequence of the popularity of shadow education, private tutoring can sometimes overshadow mainstream education with more priority given to enrolling in private tutoring centers. Mark Bray claims that "Especially near the time of major external examinations, schools in some countries may be perceived by pupils to be less able to cater for their specific needs."
- Homework coach
- Learning by teaching
- Peer-mediated instruction
- Tuition agency
- Virtual education
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- Bray, Mark (2009). Confronting the Shadow Education System: What Government Policies for What Private Tutoring?. Paris: International Institute for Educational Planning. p. 13. ISBN 978-92-803-1333-8.